Get more with myNEWS
A personalised news feed of stories that matter to you
Learn more
A view of Hong Kong from The Peak on July 28, 2022. The government under Chief Executive John Lee is taking steps to attract high-level talent. Photo: Sam Tsang

Fintech: JPMorgan, Endowus say Hong Kong has talent, capital and location edge to be global hub

  • The city is fertile ground for a vibrant fintech ecosystem, top business leaders have said in the run-up to the monetary authority’s global investment summit
  • Robust capital markets, ability to attract talent and access to the Greater Bay Area, coupled with recently announced policy support, are strengths
Hong Kong has a wealth of talent and infrastructure that will support its push to be a world leader in the fintech industry, top business leaders have said in the lead up to the Global Financial Leaders Investment Summit in Hong Kong.

The city is home to high-quality talent not seen anywhere else, said Mary Callahan Erdoes, CEO of JPMorgan Chase’s asset and wealth management business. “The talent, the drive, the innovation … I haven’t seen that in a very long time in any particular area,” she said in an interview.

The CEO visited Hong Kong in the lead up to the summit, which is hosted by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. The US bank will be represented at the event by its chief operating officer Daniel Pinto.

Mary Callahan Erdoes, CEO JPMorgan Asset & Wealth Management, photographed in Central on October 25, 2022. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

“Some of the apps built here in Hong Kong are going to be the core technology platform for much of what we’re doing around the world, so this is really exciting,” said Erdoes, who described technology being developed by JPMorgan in Hong Kong as “simply breathtaking”.

Yet the pandemic saw an exodus of high-quality talent amid the government’s strict Covid-19 quarantine measures. This prompted Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu to take more active and aggressive efforts to vye for companies and talent, a key plank in his policy address last month.

To attract high-potential companies in artificial intelligence and fintech, the government said it will dangle incentives under the Office for Attracting Strategic Enterprises scheme. This will include land and tax concessions and fiscal support, including helping their personnel with visas and the education needs of their children.


Breaking down Hong Kong chief executive John Lee's policy address

Breaking down Hong Kong chief executive John Lee's policy address

Meanwhile, the new Top Talent Pass Scheme aims to lure high-calibre people by granting a two-year visa to anyone earning at least HK$2.5 million (US$318,480) a year, or anyone who graduated from one of the world’s top 100 universities and has at least three years of working experience.

Singaporean digital wealth platform Endowus, which opened an office in Hong Kong earlier this year and recently acquired Hong Kong-based wealth manager Carret Private, believes the strategic location of Hong Kong as a gateway to mainland China and its vibrant city lifestyle still make it an undeniably attractive choice for global talent.

“Hong Kong’s depth of market and robust capital markets allow fintech firms to have better access to funding and network resources,” Steffanie Yuen, the company’s Hong Kong head, told the Post.

Hong Kong to clarify stance on cryptocurrencies during FinTech Week

Current headwinds for the city include the talent shortage and leakage, especially on the software engineering front, according to Yuen. However the government’s HK$30 billion co-investment fund is a step in the right direction.

Hong Kong’s leading position as an international financial centre, along with its deep expertise on the region, provides it with an “advantageous location in the Greater Bay Area”, said Bing Li, head of Asia-Pacific at Bloomberg, a US financial data company.

The carbon market is one area that Li believes can benefit from fintech innovation. For example, blockchain technology can be used to enhance transparency in carbon market transactions, he said. No other financial centre is better placed to connect investors to China’ carbon emissions trading market, he added.

HKMA’s chief executive talks about November summit, interest rates and fintech

Meanwhile, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po has voiced his desire to push Hong Kong as a global centre for virtual assets.
Digital assets have boomed in popularity in recent years due to the proliferation of non-fungible tokens and cryptocurrency trading. A joint survey by KPMG and Aspen Digital found that nearly 60 per cent of ultra-rich individuals and family offices in Hong Kong and Singapore were allocating a small part of their portfolios to digital asset investments.

Former HKEX CEO’s revenue-sharing platform a hit with small Chinese firms

Regulators need to fine-tune their policies to make digital asset investments better suited to family offices, said Paul McSheaffrey, senior banking partner at KPMG China. The survey found the biggest concerns of investors were the current lack of regulatory guidelines, protections and tax concessions.

Chief China economist David Wang from Credit Suisse echoed these concerns, saying that Hong Kong needs to introduce a “transparent and stable regulatory framework” that can promote the adoption of digital assets.

“The government will need to introduce low convertibility restrictions between digital assets and more liquid assets, and a strong institutional framework to protect digital assets from being unlawfully accessed,” Wang said.

Hong Kong not quick, broad or generous enough to woo talent, says think tank head

In addition, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority has been studying the introduction of the e-HKD and e-CNY digital currencies, which when launched would make Hong Kong the only city in the world with two digital fiat currencies in circulation.

A pilot programme that has been ongoing since August involved four currencies and 20 commercial bank participants, including HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank and Bank of China, across four jurisdictions on the mBridge pilot network.