Hong Kong still reigns as Asia’s leading wealth hub
Strong digital uptake, demonstrable investment savvy
26 Jun 2020 | The Asset

Hongkongers have shown their investment savviness and flexibility as they readily adopt digital tools for managing wealth – further underscoring the city’s status as a leading wealth hub, according to a recent survey.

The survey by HSBC shows that close to 70% of Hongkongers invest at least twice a year, compared with 40% of consumers in Singapore, and that 66% of Hongkongers have made short-term investments via online channels using either a PC, laptop, smartphone or tablet.

Meanwhile, three quarters have made long-term investments and over half have done so through digital channels. By contrast, two-fifths of Singaporeans have made short-term investments online and a third have made long-term investments through digital channels.

The use of digital channels to invest has also increased under the social distancing restrictions because of the Covid-19 outbreak. Total digital retail sales in Hong Kong grew by 63% year-on-year in Q1 2020. In the first five months of the year, the bank’s average monthly equity trading turnover via digital channels increased by over 50% year-on-year.

“Hong Kong is one of the world’s leading wealth hubs, and as digital banking becomes more pervasive, we have seen that Hong Kong customers – from new savers to savvy investors – are increasingly managing their investments using mobile and online banking,” says Sami Julian Abouzahr, HSBC’s head of customer wealth, wealth and personal banking, Hong Kong. “Moreover, Covid-19 accelerated the adoption of digital channels for wealth management, including FX, funds, equities and portfolio management – whether this be via an app or a video call with a relationship manager.”

However, while Hong Kong banking customers are rapidly adapting to digital banking tools and services, they still prefer a combination of human and digital interactions to support their banking needs.

Just under a third of Hong Kong citizens report they apply for a credit card or overdraft in person. Nearly two-fifths of long-term investors go through the traditional banking channels, either in person at branch offices or through direct interaction with experienced investment service representatives.

The survey findings also show, however, there is room for Hongkongers to further increase the use of digital banking channels for non-wealth, day-to-day transactions. For instance, 61% of Hongkongers currently use a smartphone app to check their bank balance compared to 75% of Singaporeans. Similarly, only 50% of Hong Kong citizens pay their bills or add payees using smartphone apps versus 67% for their Singaporean peers – showing opportunity for customers to further benefit from the efficiency and convenience of digital channels.

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