Hong Kong's small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have increased their investments in assets such as property and stocks as the financial turmoil made them more cautious about expanding operations, according to HSBC Holdings. In an HSBC survey conducted by the University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme in May and June, the bank found that almost one in three small businesses in the city had investments. Of the 623 SMEs surveyed, nearly 40 per cent said they planned to invest, of which 12 per cent said the investment would be made over the next 12 months. Property was the most popular asset for their investments, followed by Hong Kong stocks and structured products. Albert Chan, HSBC's head of commercial banking in Hong Kong, said concerns about the economic outlook were the main reason for increased investment. 'We have yet to see a full comeback in business confidence among SMEs although they received more orders in recent months,' he said. 'Some may consider using the money to invest in financial products, given the low interest rate environment.' The bank said investments by its own customers started to pick up in the final quarter last year with low-risk products such as principal-protected notes and bonds being the most popular, Mr Chan added. Equity trading through its online business banking platform rose by double digits in volume over the past few months, HSBC said.