Bankers Starting To Leave HK In Droves
HONG KONG – Overseas bankers are exiting the Chinese territory en masse because of the controversial national security law and stringent travel restrictions, reported Nikkei Asia on Friday morning (26 November, SGT).
While it’s common this time of the year for many senior executives of multinational banks to leave, few replacements are flying in Hong Kong this year.
Most of the overseas financial firms, whose local headquarters are located along the waterfront of Victoria Harbour, have witnessed a steady decline in their top positions as functions are relocated elsewhere.
Although banks insist they are not moving their operations, hiring companies have disclosed that the exodus of key staff is being camouflaged by an expansion of wealth management departments tailored to mainland Chinese.
The exodus is being blamed on Hong Kong’s uniquely strict COVID-19 rules, which mandates quarantine of up to three weeks for all inbound travellers.
“But while the goal (of the measures was) to open up travel with China, so far this has failed. The doors to the mainland have been shut for more than 18 months, and so too is the gate for international travellers into Hong Kong,” stated Nikkei Asia’s staff writer Pak Yiu.
For many in the business circles, the stringent quarantine measures are the last straw, and signifies that Hong Kong has become inhospitable for globe businesses.
For instance, the head of sales at a global financial services manager recently relocated to Hong Kong after 4 years in Sydney. He spent US$4,492 on a 14-day quarantine in a 25 sq m hotel room. He told the news outlet that he decided to relocate to Hong Kong without his family as the quarantine would have a negative impact on his kids.
“Two weeks in a room alone with a fair bit of office work is do-able. But the misery and mental toll it will inflict on children is immeasurable.”
Furthermore, an Asia Pacific head of markets at a multinational bank also said that in the past Hong Kong was the only choice for top Asia Pacific jobs, but that’s not the case anymore.
“Today, we run into several hurdles: from the global heads posing whether we could use the opportunity to pick Singapore perhaps, to risk managers assessing if the role is suitable in Hong Kong, to the prospective bankers themselves asking if they could go elsewhere.”