I spent the week in Hong Kong and held three Women & Investing Workshops. In 2012, I worked in Hong Kong for a year as a research analyst and loved it! It continues to be fascinating to watch the dynamism, the rapidly evolving finance landscape and China's closer financial ties with Hong Kong.
It was great to return and speak to Citi Women's Network and Naked Hub entrepreneurs and hear from these savvy professional ladies! Here are the key takeaways:
1. How to Afford Real Estate: #1 Priority
2. How to Pay for Education: #2 Priority
3. Who Has Time: So Many Investment Options including China
1. Real Estate: Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Hong Kong's real estate market is legendary for being one of the most expensive in the world. (Think $2500-3000/square foot for desirable location.) The units tend to be small so the vibrant, scenic backdrop is one of the main draws for Hong Kong. Add a 50-60% down payment requirement (!) and you have a lofty amount to save. Often the question is: Do we stay or do we go? People love Hong Kong though – including mainland Chinese who also continue to buy real estate in Hong Kong for diversification (currency and geography as starters).
2. Education: Pre-School Interviews Start at age of 2
If you thought certain places in the US were obsessed with education (NYC, SF), Hong Kong is a fair competitor. I heard about pre-school interviews at age of 2 as the status quo. The view is that the child needs to be in the system to qualify for other desirable schools. While playgroups are free, “playdates” are pay-to-play programs that are popping up all over Hong Kong (just like profitable co-working spaces in the US). Meanwhile, investment firms are capitalizing on the fear of affording education and offering various investment vehicles to help pay for education.
3. Who Has Time to Focus on Investments?
Starting with a savings-based culture in Hong Kong, the preference for real estate, and busy work schedules (to pay for real estate), investments tend to fall off the priority list. Moreover, with China offering multiple investment vehicles, it is more challenging for HKers to assess high quality investments. In HK, residents have access to funds from around the world. There is also a currency component to consider. It is easy to say: who has time to think about all these investments?
BONUS TREND: There is only one digital platform in Hong Kong – Chloe (part of 8 Securities) – and it launched this year. The digital platform market is in a nascent phase in Hong Kong and China. This will be a trend to monitor over time.