Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing may launch a 'professional board' for international companies to list their shares in the city under a more flexible regulatory structure than the current model, according to chief executive Paul Chow Man-yiu. Only professional investors, not retail customers, will be allowed to trade on the board. Because of that limitation, companies, mostly from other countries, will be allowed to list without having to conform to the extensive regulatory vetting process of the main board or the Growth Enterprise Market (GEM). Mr Chow said a consultation paper would be issued this year to outline the idea. 'A professional board will allow only professional investors to trade, but the consultation paper will discuss the definition of a professional investor,' he said. 'Under the current law, professional investor refers to someone who has a US$1 million portfolio and investment experience, but recent complaints about accumulators have shown that the definition is debatable.' Many high-net-worth clients - including housewives and pensioners - have complained recently to legislators and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority that banks misled them about high-risk derivative products called accumulators. The complex investments, which have suffered extensive losses, should only have been sold to professional investors. Mr Chow said the proposal was not in response to a report issued last week by the Bauhinia Foundation. The pro-government think-tank called for HKEx to follow the London Alternative Investment Market (AIM) model, which makes sponsors, usually investment banks, responsible for the quality of new listings rather than regulators. 'The exchange has considered launching the professional board since last year,' Mr Chow said. Confirming a report published in the South China Morning Post on Tuesday, he said the listing committee had agreed to require all main-board firms to follow the British model of quarterly management statement updates by next year. After three years, it would review whether to launch quarterly statements. The listing committee on Monday also approved revamping the GEM and launching Hong Kong depositary receipts to make it easier for overseas firms to list in Hong Kong. Both plans would be implemented in the third quarter, Mr Chow said.