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Wealth Flowing To Singapore?

There has been growing media interest about whether the rich in Hong Kong are moving their wealth to other places including Singapore. The media has been putting out reports of foreign wealth advisory firms scrapping their plans to open offices in Hong Kong and choosing to open in Singapore instead, with a controversial proposed extradition bill possibly being one of the reasons for their decisions.

Fund managers cite the need for stability for their clients who invest upwards of US$1 million to US$2 million to set up operations in a market, lest they have to shut down again soon because their clients do not feel safe.

Reuters has reported that some Hong Kong tycoons are beginning to move their personal wealth to other cities like Singapore as concerns deepen over a plan by the Hong Kong government to allow for extraditions of suspects to face trial in China. 

The bill would cover Hong Kong residents, Chinese nationals and even foreign nationals living or traveling through the city. After mass protests demanding for the controversial bill to be scrapped, it was suspended and has since been removed from the current legislative term which ends in July 2020.

On 1 July, more than 500,000 Hong Kong residents took to the streets in what has become an annual pro-democracy march marking the anniversary of the return of Hong Kong to China. This year’s event gathered more media attention as it follows several other large scale protests in recent weeks because of the proposed extradition law with China.

In a survey published by trade publication Asian Private Banker last year, 58 per cent of respondents ranked Singapore as the most preferred offshore wealth management hub, followed by Hong Kong and Switzerland. The survey said Singapore was particularly attractive because it was "less connected to mainland China from a regulatory, political, and financial perspective", compared to Hong Kong.

The South China Morning Post also reported that insurance technology start-up Singapore Life reported a 30 per cent uptick in demand from Hong Kong’s high net worth individuals seeking insurance products with legacy planning options. The company’s founder told SCMP that over the past three months he has seen some “20 to 30 per cent” growth in applications for its universal life insurance products from Hong Kong residents.