I'm French by birth and I love Hong Kong. I've lived here for over two decades while working in finance and no matter what people say I have no intention of ever moving to Singapore.
Hong Kong is home for me. French bankers and traders like Hong Kong because taxes are lower and there's much less admin, but this isn't Hong Kong's only appeal.
If you work in banking, Hong Kong is a real global hub. By comparison, Singapore never really took off. The total market cap of the Hong Kong Exchange is over US$5 trillion. The total market cap of Singapore Exchange (SGX) is less than $1 trillion. There's no real comparison. There are few corporate clients of interest in Singapore. Yes, Singapore has is private banking, but if you want to work in any markets job in Asia, you're better off in Hong Kong.
Size isn't the only issue. Hong Kong has also historically been a place of greater freedoms than Singapore. I know there are reasons to disagree, but personally I think this is still the case - you are a lot less free in Singapore than you think. There's also the weather: in Singapore there are no seasons, and you're stuck with 30-40C temperatures and 99% humidity the whole year round; in Hong Kong there is at least a winter and the humidity is sometimes less than 50%.
Driving is a challenge in Singapore: you have to buy a crazily expensive Certificate of Entitlement (COE) and taxis are a huge headache. In Hong Kong, you can usually get a taxi within 5-10 minutes on any day, at any time and to anywhere.
Hong Kong is also far more hospitable to outsiders. I'm a permanent resident in Hong Kong - I have right of abode here no matter what. Achieving similar status in Singapore isn't easy - although Singapore says it wants foreign bankers to work there, ultimately it gives locals priority over jobs. It's not like that in Hong Kong.
Yes, Hong Kong has its problems, but for me, it's home. And I have no plans to change this in the future.
Philippe Ersatz is a pseudonym. This is his opinion and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of eFinancialCareers.
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