On May 28, the Securities and Future Commission (SFC) issued a statement saying that senior bankers travelling to and from Hong Kong will be exempt from the city’s tough quarantine laws provided they are fully vaccinated.
The head of corporate finance at one firm said he was looking forward to travelling to see clients again. “During Covid, if I wanted to travel to Europe I would have to fly to Dubai, where I would have to quarantine in a hotel for two weeks, then when I arrived in the UK, I’d have to undergo another quarantine regime.”
According to the SFC, senior executives of a licensed corporation with global or regional roles are entitled to two trips per month. The new rules cover ‘global or regional heads or senior executives of financial institutions', allowing bankers to visit Hong Kong twice a month, or executives to return to the city from foreign business trips with similar frequency.
The increased mobility has been welcomed by both bankers and headhunters, who believe it will lead to the resumption of relocations. “Moves that involve relocations from the UK and the US have been completely on hold. This will unlock that,” said one London-based head-hunter specialising in relocations.
The move will help banks fill vacancies as they look to recruit senior talent in the biggest hiring frenzy Hong Kong has seen in a decade
HSBC is moving senior bankers to the region as part of its ‘pivot to Asia’ with Greg Guyett, CEO of global banking, Barry O’ Byrne, CEO of the global commercial bank and Nuno Matos, who runs HSBC’s wealth and personal banking business, all set to move from London in the coming months.
The exemptions could also pave the way for people to move from Hong Kong to rival financial centres. “I know people who want to move closer to home – mainly Australians who have been cut off from their families because of COVID-19. I think you’ll see people requesting transfers to Singapore now that things are opening up,” the head of corporate finance said.
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