White Collar

Hong Kong’s market rally has brought out the best in people

The Community Chest saw all its public-donation campaigns grow, some faster than the benchmark Hang Seng Index rally

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 December, 2017, 10:30am
UPDATED : Monday, 25 December, 2017, 10:30am

Christmas is a time when we tend to think about giving. So here is a festive review of how the stock market rally is not only helping brokers reap bigger bonuses, but also seems to be encouraging Hong Kong people to give away more to good causes.

The Community Chest, Hong Kong’s largest charity body, has seen all its fundraising programmes that rely on public donations grow strongly this year, according to its chief executive Cecilia Li Wing-yin.

This included the annual “Community for the Chest” television show in May, which raised HK$3.8 million through its public donation telephone hotline, up 36 per cent from HK$2.8 million a year earlier.

That just beats the benchmark Hang Seng Index, which has rallied 33 per cent this year.

The charity also collected HK$3.8 million between April and December by selling flags on the street, a 6 per cent rise from the same period a year earlier.

Even charity mooncakes have been selling like … well, hot cakes. The amount raised from mooncake sales ahead of the Mid-Autumn Festival rose 10 per cent year on year to HK$1 million.

“We have seen Hong Kong people being more generous in their donations this year. This may be because they’re earning good money from the stock market rally and improved economic sentiment,” Li said.

“This is in line with past experience, when the amount of charity donation in Hong Kong has moved up and down with the stock market and economic cycle.”

Corporate donations to the Community Chest, however, have not yet been vastly different from last year. This may be because company executives need to wait for their full-year results to see how much they can afford to pay.

However, the stock code donation programme, the largest of its kind in terms of funds raised, has already seen more donations. In Hong Kong, listing candidates on the main board can donate HK$1 million or more to the Community Chest for the right to choose a stock code they like. If they don’t donate, the stock exchange will randomly select a number for the company.

This year, the mainland board raised HK$44 million during the period from April 1 to mid-December, up 7 per cent from HK$41 million in the corresponding period of time a year earlier.

This puts it on track to pass the average annual HK$60 million raised in a financial year from April 1.

It is worth noting that the GEM, the city’s second board, only raised HK$3 million between April and mid December, slightly down from a year earlier. Firms listed on that board pay HK$500,000 for the right to pick a code, so that means just six out of the more than 50 GEM companies listed were prepared to make the donation.

This may be because all GEM-listed companies’ stock codes start with the number “8”, which is a lucky number in Chinese culture.

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing should really consider changing the rules to let only those who are willing to donate the money enjoy such a lucky code.

I’d like to finish by wishing all readers of the White Collar column a very Merry Christmas!