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"Expat bankers in Hong Kong have unusually privileged lives"

I'm a finance professional and technologist and my career has been spent in the US and Asia. I grew up in public housing in Hong Kong, as did my family members. I live in Hong Kong again now. And although I can easily afford it, I don't employ maids or "helpers."

This is in contrast to most bankers in the expat community here. My experience is that my expat friends in Hong Kong enjoy very privileged lives. All their needs are catered for. They hang out in private clubs with other expats and live relatively care-free wives with a few maids at home - many have one maid per child. 

As a native Hong Konger, I dislike this culture, which is why I've always refused to get full time helpers even if I have the means. In my opinion, having maids in the house makes both adults and children feel entitled. It's not good for the power dynamics in the household. When our children were young and we needed help, we instead got part-time helpers to help out a few times a month. 

The approach to domestic help in Hong Kong is very different to elsewhere in the world. I know many people in the US with net worth easily above $100m and they refuse to get full time maids or assistants. They feel that having someone always around negatively affects their personal lives and so they stick to part-time cleaners or babysitters. 

In Hong Kong, it's very different. People in financial services here work long hours and have little time for anything else. It's really cheap to get a maid versus the average banking salary, and so most people do it - even if they're in the back office. 

The prevalence of household help means expat Hong Kong bankers are divorced from reality. In the US and Canada people are much more down to earth. They try to live frugal lives, especially if they entered the industry after 2008. The finance culture is very different here. 

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AUTHORAdam Chao Insider Comment
  • Jo
    John L
    29 September 2022

    Foreign domestic helpers are hired by locals as well. In HK it's not some luxury that only bakers have. Many middle class families have helpers. This article would play better if it was about how the helpers should be paid more and have better protections.

    Also, you should be aware... When you try to hire a domestic helper, they will tell you they prefer expat families because they tend to treat them better.... Makes me wonder if the expats are the ones with the entitlement issues ...

  • AS
    AS Venta
    17 September 2022

    If anyone loves the culture of maids, it’s Asians, are you kidding me?! My wife is Chinese: even one day with no maid and it’s the end of civilisation for her. India is no different; all the well-heeled have armies of helpers. And what’s all this nonsense about expats still hanging out in clubs? Are you talking about the 1980s? Those days are long gone, and again it’s the locals that frequent these clubs with great enthusiasm.

  • Bo
    16 September 2022

    Such a trash article

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