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Investing in a warm welcome

Published on Saturday, 08 Nov 2014
Alan Tsang
Photo: Sky Lip

AMTD CEO Alan Tsang seeks 20 asset managers to assist wealthy newcomers to Hong Kong.

Many Hongkongers view new immigrants from the mainland as merely coming here to take advantage of the city’s social benefits. Alan Tsang Hing-lun, director and chief executive of AMTD Group, believes the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme will bring a fresh attitude towards these newcomers. 

The scheme was introduced by the government in 2003 to encourage rich mainlanders to immigrate here. Applicants are required to invest no less than HK$10 million in the city to earn an identity card. 

Tsang sees a great future in serving this group of wealthy clients, with 10,000 new applicants every year bringing in billions of dollars to the local market. “These high-value accounts have injected new life into the financial market, [and] the demand for asset management has grown by leaps and bounds,” he says. “For the first time, there are more asset managers registered at the Securities and Futures Commission [SFC] than stockbrokers.”

Tsang predicts this new source of capital will lead to major growth in Hong Kong dollar bonds. These are not a popular choice for local investors because they lack flexibility, he says, but they are perfect for new immigrant investors, who need to keep their capital in Hong Kong for at least seven years to become local citizens.

AMTD’s asset managers for immigrants do more than handle their client’s money – they also take care of the problems that families face when moving to a new place. 

“We understand that when one moves to a foreign place, their concerns are not only about the investment. They want to know how to make the transition to a new home easier. Education, medical care and even small matters like employing a mandarin-speaking domestic helper and chauffeur – the asset managers are there to help. The aim is to provide a one-stop service for migration and investment,” he says.

AMTD assigns two managers, usually a man and a woman, to serve clients at different stages of their immigration process. In the initial stage, a male manager will be responsible for explaining the investment options and risks involved to clients. In the later stage, a female manager will play a bigger role in helping them make the transition. “From our experience, female colleagues tend to be more attentive. They can communicate better [about] details such as schools for the children, shopping spots and all the little things related to living in the city.”

Asset managers for immigrants are highly sought-after, Tsang says. “The position is new to the banking and finance sector. Not many banks or financial institutions have this service yet, so it is really difficult to employ someone outside. We provide in-house training for staff and the plan is to have 20 more colleagues by the end of the year.” 

Besides having an SFC licence, asset managers for immigrants also need to know about the local education system, medical policies, the property market and other aspects of living here. An excellent command of Mandarin is a must. 

Tsang says asset managers have to work under pressure. “Immigration has a series of deadlines for applicants to meet as they move on with their application. In many cases, clients do not give the documents to managers until the last minute, leaving colleagues a tiny window to get the job done.” 

Asset managers typically build long-term relationships with clients, he says. “Some clients use Hong Kong as a stepping stone to move to other places. Our relationship with clients does not end after they have got the Hong Kong identity card,” he says. 

While 80 per cent of applicants for the scheme are mainlanders, the city’s simple tax system also attracts people from France and Taiwan. “There are also quite a number of inquires about moving to Canada, the US or Australia from mainland immigrants after they have received Hong Kong citizenship, but many of them are turned down because of the complex tax systems in those countries,” Tsang says. 

Tsang believes asset managers can help immigrants improve their image by supporting the local community. 

AMTD plans to start a charity group for the new immigrants so they can give back to Hong Kong society. “There is a lot of misunderstanding between locals and new immigrants and having the charity will foster a closer relationship between the two. For the newcomers, the charity is a channel for them to develop a new personal network,” he says.

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