The online magazine of the Swiss Bankers Association
September 21, 2017


Hong Kong and Switzerland: exploring opportunities for collaboration

Hong Kong and Switzerland: exploring opportunities for collaboration

Representatives from the banks, regulators and fintech companies in Hong Kong and Switzerland met to discuss topics of high importance for both financial centres.

On 19 September 2017, the first Hong Kong – Swiss financial seminar, organised by the Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), was held in Bern. The seminar was complementary to the first financial dialogue between the governments of Switzerland and Hong Kong on the same day and marked a further step in establishing fruitful collaboration between the two strong financial centres.

First Hong Kong – Swiss financial seminar

The financial seminar held on 19 September 2017 in Bern brought together almost 50 representatives and specialists from the banks, regulators and fintech companies in both Hong Kong and Switzerland. The aim of the seminar was to address current financial sector issues and to provide a platform for an open exchange of views and technical expertise. The participants explored potential opportunities for collaboration in the internationalisation of the renminbi, the One Belt One Road Initiative (OBOR) and private banking in China. For fintech, it was noted that both economies are facing similar challenges and opportunities. Participants learned that the HKMA, in addition to promoting a modern regulatory environment for the dynamic world of fintech, is also actively pursuing the promotion of the fintech industry by bringing together the established banks with the emerging fintech players.

Ambassador René Weber (SIF)

The seminar opened with welcome addresses from Ambassador René Weber, State Secretariat for International Financial Matters (SIF), and Mr. Vincent Lee, Executive Director (External), HKMA. These were followed by two panel discussions on issues that are of critical importance for both financial centres. “In Hong Kong, we see a partner with whom we can cooperate on international standards and regulatory reforms. At the same time, we see the potential of having our financial market participants establish successful joint business models”, said Ambassador Weber in his speech. Vincent Lee shared this view and explained that the HKMA is convinced that the many opportunities and challenges will lead to strong collaboration between the financial centres.

Vincent Lee (HKMA)

Hong Kong as an important financial gateway for China

In a first panel chaired by Vincent Lee, the panellists and participants exchanged their views on the developments in the opening of the Chinese financial market and internationalisation of the renminbi. Stephen Chan (Bank of China), Manuel Rybach (Credit Suisse), Angel Serna (Zurich Insurance Group Ltd), Roger Studer (Vontobel) and Sue Anne Tay (HSBC) discussed the opportunities arising from the Belt & Road initiative. The panellists also discussed opportunities for foreign financial institutions with onshore operations in mainland China. In closing, the panellists agreed that even though entering the Chinese market or joining the OBOR-Initiative still poses risks for Swiss institutions, China’s further opening of its economy provides attractive opportunities.

Hong Kong as a gateway for China: f.l.t.r. Roger Studer, Manuel Rybach, Stephen Chan, Sue Ann Tay, Angel Serna and Vincent Lee

Fintech and the opportunities for the financial sector

During the second part of the seminar, Adrian Schatzmann (SBA) led a panel discussion about fintech developments in Hong Kong and Switzerland. Noël Bieri (Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority FINMA), Henry Chang (HKMA), Veronica Lange (UBS) and Cornelia Stengel (Kellerhals Carrard) discussed the regulatory landscape for fintech in both countries and the opportunities for the industry and customers alike. They also explored the need for cultural change as a result of the rapid technological changes in the industry and  for cross-border initiatives arising from the use of new technologies. At the end of the discussion, the panellists agreed that one of the most important factors in the near to medium-term is a regular dialogue between regulators, banks and fintech companies.

Fintech and the opportunities for the financial sector: f.l.t.r. Noël Bieri, Veronica Lange, Henry Chang, Cornelia Stengel and Adrian Schatzmann

The participants greatly enjoyed the panel discussions and took advantage of the opportunity to share their views and ask questions during the Q&A sessions. The event was followed by an informal lunch where the guests had the opportunity to continue the discussion.

Events like the Hong Kong – Swiss financial seminar are an important foundation for establishing future relations between the two financial centres as well as for raising international awareness of the strengths of the Swiss financial centre. Ongoing promotion of Switzerland as a major financial centre is a key focus of the SBA and the Swiss Federal Council in their efforts to ensure Switzerland remains a leading global financial centre in the years to come.