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Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA)

Hong Kong’s central banker adds fintech to priorities to burnish city’s role as financial hub

HKMA Chief Executive Norman Chan wants financial industry stability – a tough job in the age of fintech disruption and Chinese expansion.

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 July, 2017, 11:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 January, 2018, 4:14pm

Hong Kong Monetary Authority Chief Executive Norman Chan Tak-lam, 62, is Hong Kong’s central banker. Paid HK$6.5 million per year (substantially less than his predecessor, Joseph Yam), Chan is still ranked as one of the highest paid central bankers in the world, behind only Mark Carney at the Bank of England.

Chan is tasked with managing the local reserve Exchange Fund, maintaining the stability of the local currency and banking system, as well as handling the many new financial market developments in the city, including the renminbi business, Belt & Road Initiative and financial technology (fintech).

After graduating from Chinese University with a social science degree, he joined the Hong Kong government in 1976 and worked in a number of government departments. In 1991, he became deputy director of the Office of the Exchange Fund, which managed the local reserve. Joseph Yam was its director.

In 1993, Chan helped Yam set up the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) by combining the Office of the Exchange Fund and the Banking Commissioner’s office. Chan became Yam’s right-hand man as deputy chief executive for 12 years until taking sabbatical leave in 2005.

After a brief stint as vice-chairman for Asia of Standard Chartered Bank, Chan became then-chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen’s office director. In October 2009, he took up the top job at the HKMA when Yam retired.

Chan’s office is situated on top of the iconic IFC 2– the 88th floor. From his vantage point, he has a spectacular view of Hong Kong and Victoria Harbour. But the office itself eschews the trappings of power. Books on banking and finance are the main décor.

(This an article that appears in the July/August issue of The Peak magazine, available now at selected bookstores and by invitation.)