Hong Kong’s Rich Open More Offshore Accounts as Backup Plan, Bankers Say
Bankers Say Hong Kong’s Rich Are Ensuring Their Cash Can Escape
Top bankers say Hong Kong’s wealthy are opening more offshore accounts to ensure they have an emergency escape route for their cash if the city’s civil unrest worsens.
So far, the money has largely been staying put, the heads of UBS Group AG, Credit Suisse Group AG and Standard Chartered Plc said in interviews at the New Economy Forum in Beijing. While Goldman Sachs Group Inc. isn’t seeing any change of behavior among major financial clients, “the situation needs to be resolved” soon, CEO David Solomon said.
The economy of the former British colony is reeling, with retailers, restaurants and hotels cutting wages or letting staff go to survive the downturn in tourism. Concern is mounting that prolonged tension will weaken the city’s financial industry -- which accounts for about 20% of gross domestic product.
“We’ve seen clients open accounts in Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan, in that order,” Standard Chartered CEO Bill Winters said in an interview. “But while the accounts were set up, not a lot of money has actually moved. We’re not seeing a crescendo.”
Similarly, Sergio Ermotti, the chief of UBS, said the Swiss bank has seen clients “activating contingency plans.”
“I am using the term “box tickers” to refer to employees who exist only or primarily to allow an organization to be able to claim it is doing something that, in fact, it is not doing.”
― David Graeber, Bullshit Jobs: A Theory