Singapore — The current civic and political unrest in Hong Kong is giving another demographic cause for concern. More and more Hong Kong millionaires are worried about the potential ramifications of the political crisis in their homeland and are using Singapore’s banks to transfer their money.
Wealth managers and private bankers in Singapore have been receiving gradually increasing number of inquiries from Hong Kong investors since the extradition bill issue erupted. The majority of the inquiries were coming from individuals with assets ranging from US$10 million to US$20 million (S$13.5 million to S$27.1 million) according to a report.
Despite protests dissipating, Hong Kong investors are still concerned and are preparing for change.
Investors are worried that Beijing’s continuous intrusion into Hong Kong’s government may blur the lines between Hong Kong’s separate judicial system from mainland China’s. The 2017 case of Xiao Jianhua is often cited as a cautionary tale when the financier was allegedly abducted from a Hong Kong hotel by Chinese agents and has since disappeared.
Others may view the recent development as Singapore taking advantage of Hong Kong’s crisis. To counter this perception, the Monetary Authority of Singapore advised wealth managers and financial organisations “not to aggressively market their services” to get clients in the rival country.
Regarding the issue, an anonymous banking executive said that “The message was that we shouldn’t be taking undue advantage of what’s going on in Hong Kong… We have to act responsibly and not launch campaigns to convince clients that this is a good time for them to move their assets.”
If the clients really want to move their assets to Singapore, Singapore’s wealth managers need to assist them in doing so.
Singaporean banks such as DBS and OCBC have been expanding their businesses in Hong Kong and China in the recent years which reportedly make up a significant amount of the banks’ revenue./TISG