Hong Kong financial summit 2022
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Hong Kong’s Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu spoke at the Global Financial Leaders’ Investment Summit at the Four Seasons Hotel in Central on 2 November 2022. Photo: Sam Tsang

John Lee urges global banks to ‘get in front’ of the queue for business as Hong Kong ‘puts the worst’ behind it

  • The conference at the Four Seasons Hotel is packed with panels and fireside chats with global bankers and fund managers
  • Three of China’s financial regulators held a pre-recorded panel discussion moderated by HKMA’s chief executive Eddie Yue Wai-man
The Global Financial Leaders’ Investment Summit kicked off publicly today in Hong Kong, with the de facto central bank hosting the largest gathering of financial heavyweights the city has seen in almost three years.

More than 200 international and regional leaders from around 120 global financial institutions including banks, securities firms, asset managers, private equity and venture capital firms, hedge funds, and insurers are attending the three-day summit, according to the HKMA.

Hong Kong “remains the only place in the world [where] global advantages and the China advantage come together in a single city,” said Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu, in a speech live-streamed from the summit’s venue at the Four Seasons Hotel in Central. “Opportunity and timing, right here, right now in Hong Kong. This is the moment you have been waiting for. Go for it. Get in front, not behind.”

Lee highlighted three government policies to enhance the city’s competitiveness: Hong Kong Investment Corporation’s plan to optimise the use of fiscal reserves in steering economic development, the HK$30 billion (US$3.8 billion) scheme to help businesses set up in Hong Kong, and an array of new initiatives including the top talent scheme to help enterprises build a base in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s unique location – the heart of Asia, an air cargo hub, five universities among the world’s top 100, proximity to China’s market, the Greater Bay Area (GBA), as well as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – makes it the best city for business, said Lee.

At a separate event on Wednesday evening organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Lee emphasised his results-oriented approach to running the city “like a business”.

“We will not be a laid back laissez-faire government. We will lead in a direction for the overall benefit of Hong Kong,” he said.

“As well as looking at Hong Kong as a special administrative region, from now on you can probably also look at Hong Kong as a Hong Kong enterprise.

“I emphasise [results], just like a business. You want the bottom line, you want the dollar sign, [and] I want the result.”

China’s central bank governor, Yi Gang, said Hong Kong “is, and will continue to be important [as a] financial centre, connecting the mainland to the international market.”

Delegates awaited the start of the Global Financial Leaders’ Investment Summit at the Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong’s Central district on 2 November 2022. Photo: Sam Tsang.
“Hong Kong’s economy and finance system have shown remarkable resilience despite disruptions,” the governor said in a pre-recorded dialogue with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s chief executive Eddie Yue Wai-man.

China’s stock market regulator reminded the audience to keep their eyes on the big picture and disregard temporary distractions and disruptions.

A pre-recorded dialogue between the Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s chief executive Eddie Yue Wai-man (left) and the People’s Bank of China governor Yi Gang (right), during the Global Financial Leaders’ Investment Summit at the Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong’s Central district on November 2, 2022. Photo: Enoch Yiu.
“International investors [should] find out what is going on in China by themselves, and don’t bet against China and Hong Kong,” said Fang Xinghai, vice-chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), in a second pre-recorded conversation with Yue.

“As President Xi Jinping underscored during the 20th party congress, China’s doors can only [open] bigger, and Hong Kong will play a very important role in the overall opening of China’s economy and Chinese financial sector,” Fang said.

Hong Kong’s stock market cheered the gathering of financial heavyweights, driving up the benchmark Hang Seng Index by as much as 2.3 per cent, reversing the earlier 1.2 per cent decline in a half-day trading session that was cut short by an approaching typhoon.

“The attendance, the vibration, the energy, the excitement [of] seeing a lot of bankers, fund managers and asset managers coming to town has been tremendous,” said DBS Hong Kong’s chief executive Sebastian Paredes. “We need to very rapidly remove the last mile of the of the 0+3 [anti-Covid controls] and fully open Hong Kong [like] other centres and countries. That is fundamental to reactivating Hong Kong as an international hub.”

The first day of the summit featured three discussions sessions. The first panel about “ navigating through uncertainty” was moderated by the HKMA’s Yue.
The panellists were Blackstone’s chief financial officer Michael Chae, Morgan Stanley’s chairman James Gorman, UBS Group’s chairman Colm Kelleher, Bank of China’s president Liu Jin and Goldman Sach’s chairman David Solomon.
The world will be clouded by “a significant amount of uncertainty” in 2023, but central banks will step in to tame inflation amid the transition from economic expansion to economic contraction, they said.

“It is a painful transition, but not an unexpected transition,” Gorman said, adding that the era of low global inflation was over, and inflation remains the biggest uncertainty that keeps him up at night.

Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po (centre) attended the Global Financial Leaders’ Investment Summit at the Four Seasons Hotel in Central on 2 November 2022. Photo: Sam Tsang
The second panel, about sustainable finance, was moderated by Nicolas Aguzin, chief executive of the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX).

The panellists were KKR’s co-chief executive officer Joseph Bae, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’s president Jin Liqun, Citigroup’s chief executive for personal banking Anand Selvakesari, and BNY Mellon Investment Management’s chief executive Hanneke Smits.

Hong Kong can take the lead in promoting sustainable finance in the Asia-Pacific, as the city is among the first to incorporate disclosures for environment, social and corporate governance (ESG) in its audit and listing rules, they said.
Sequoia China’s managing partner Neil Shen led the third panel, with the theme of “technology, innovation and the future of finance.” The four speakers on the panel were BlackRock’s president Rob Kapito, JPMorgan Chase’s president Daniel Pinto, HSBC’s chief executive Noel Quinn, and Standard Chartered’s group chief executive Bill Winters.
“Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have started to be more popular,” said JPMorgan’s Pinto. “Positive or negative, we are all fully aligned about the power of the technology.”

Hong Kong this week proposed a range of measures to develop the virtual-assets industry to promote the city as an international cryptocurrency hub as it vies with Singapore for the crown.

Former HKMA chief executive Norman Chan Tak-lam conducted a “fireside chat” with former Bank of England governor Mark Carney after lunch about environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG).
Filippo Gori, Asia-Pacific chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co., arriving for a closed-door meeting at the office of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) in Central on 1 November, 2022. Photo: Sam Tsang.

Hong Kong “has extensive access to global financial institutions in a wide range of financial services, financial expertise, talents and internationally recognised regulators,” Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po, the chief architect of the summit, said in a keynote address before lunch.

“Hong Kong’s position in the GBA, its role as a ‘ Super Connector’ between China and the rest of the world, and its vibrant fintech [sector] are all nurturing the financial ecosystem,” Chan said.
The city’s top financial official caught Covid-19 last week during a working trip to Saudi Arabia, which forced him to delay his return to Hong Kong.

In a late statement on Tuesday night, local health authorities said the financial secretary was deemed to be in a “recovery” stage and was “non-infectious” after undertaking a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on arrival, and was cleared to attend the summit, though he must refrain from joining any banquets.

Bill Winters, chief executive officer of Standard Chartered, arriving for a closed-door meeting at the office of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) in Central on 1 November, 2022. Photo: Sam Tsang.
The three-day summit began informally on Tuesday with a closed-door meeting at the HKMA’s office in Central, where more than a dozen top bankers were invited to give their feedback to Hong Kong’s financial officials. A dinner at the M+ museum of contemporary art wrapped up the day’s proceedings.

Bankers and financiers seen arriving for the closed-door meeting included HSBC’s Quinn, Standard Chartered’s Winters, Goldman’s Solomon, Morgan Stanley’s Gorman, UBS Group’s Kelleher, Bank of China’s Liu, BlackRock’s Kapito, Credit Suisse’s chairman Axel Lehmann, JPMorgan’s Asia-Pacific chief executive Filippo Gori, PIMCO’s chief executive Emmanuel Roman and Carlyle Group’s co-founder and co-chairman William E. Conway Jr.

Deputy Financial Secretary Michel Wong Wai-lun led the Hong Kong officials at the meeting, joined by the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury (FSTB) Christopher Hui, the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) chief executive Ashley Alder and the HKEX’s Aguzin.
Participants of The Global Financial Leaders’ Investment Summit attends the Gala Dinner at M+ Museum at West Kowloon Cultural District on 1 November 2022. Photo:Sam Tsang
The city’s Observatory upgraded its warning signal to 8 from 3 as the Severe Tropical Storm Nalgae developed into a typhoon on its approach to Hong Kong.

Schools were shut, and most businesses including banks and the city’s stock market suspended operations in the afternoon, after the summit wrapped up its first day of public sessions.

In his closing remarks, HKMA’s Yue said a similar conference will be held in 2023 to mark the 30th anniversary of the city’s de facto central bank.

Additional reporting by Martin Choi