Number of family offices based in Hong Kong could surpass Singapore ‘in a few more years,’ investment body predicts

The number of family offices in Hong Kong could surpass Singapore in just a few years, despite a large gap at present, the director of the city’s investment promotion agency has said.

InvestHK on Friday added it had also helped 382 mainland Chinese and overseas companies set up or extend their businesses in Hong Kong in 2023, a year on year increase of 27 per cent, which brought HK$61.6 billion (US$7.9 billion) to the city and created and 4,100 jobs.

Alpha Lau Hai-suen, the body’s director general of investment promotion, said she believed Hong Kong’s portfolio growth was gaining “good momentum” despite facing global financial uncertainties.

“As companies were able to resume their Asian strategies after the pandemic, Hong Kong is a natural first choice as a business base for many global multinationals and entrepreneurs,” she added.

“We have already seen a very good number of family offices opening up in Hong Kong because, frankly speaking, we have a better deal, a better tax environment and we are very supportive.

“Family offices in Hong Kong, for last year, have already picked up to such an extent that, I believe, in a few more years will surpass Singapore in terms of registrations.”
Alpha Lau, InvestHK’s director general of investment promotion, says 382 mainland companies had set up shop or extended their business in the city in 2023. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

Lau, who assumed her role last November, did not reveal how many family offices were based in Hong Kong, but Christopher Hui Ching-yu, the financial services and treasury secretary, said last July that the government aimed to have 200 based in Hong Kong by 2025.

InvestHK said it had contacted 800 family offices around the world since it was set up in 2021 with a view to attracting them to Hong Kong.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore said more than 1,500 family offices operated in the city state by 2022, with 200 more awaiting approval to open up in 2023.

InvestHK’s latest statistics showed the 382 new businesses came from 45 jurisdictions.

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China took the lead with 136 firms, followed by Britain with 48 and the United States on 34.

Most of the companies focused on finance-related activity.

There were 90 involved in financial services and fintech, 82 in innovation and technology, and 45 on professional services.

Lau said the agency would continue to prioritise innovation and technology, financial services and family offices and boost its promotion efforts in strategic markets, such as the Middle East in Asean economies.

The agency last year secured memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with sovereign wealth funds in Saudi Arabia and Egypt for cooperation on investment promotion exchange and support.

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Other MOUs signed included ones with the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the commerce authorities of the mainland provinces of Zhejiang and Jiangsu.

Lau added that InvestHK wanted to open economic and trade offices in Egypt and Turkey, and that one of them would be opened this year.

She dismissed fears that foreign investors might be deterred by the prospect of Hong Kong’s home-grown national security legislation, mandated under Article 23 of the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution.

Lau said all the overseas chambers of commerce and consulates general she had spoken to had no special concerns about the legislation and that they were not worried about it affecting the business environment.

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