Best banks in Hong Kong for expats – that will be the topic of today’s article.
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Table of Contents
Today, Hong Kong is not a city or a country, but a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China. According to the principle of “one country – two systems”, developed by China for Hong Kong and Macau, Hong Kong has broad autonomy in most areas – it has its own legal and tax systems, economy, migration regime, currency and much more.
China is only responsible for defense and foreign policy. According to this theory, Hong Kong will exist until 2047, and only after it will become part of the PRC, but only under special conditions. However, even now, every year, China’s influence on Hong Kong is increasing.
But still, Hong Kong is very different from China. The locals don’t like being called Chinese. Even the Chinese language is different here – in China they speak Putonghua, and in Hong Kong they speak Cantonese. In China, few people understand English, and in Hong Kong it is the second official language. Also in Hong Kong, unlike China, all instant messengers, social networks and Google work, and any application can be downloaded in two languages - Chinese or English.
Thus, Hong Kong is a mixture of East and West, it is an Asian metropolis with an international character. Everyone will find something of their own here. In this article, we have collected the main pros and cons of living in Hong Kong, which will be useful for those who are thinking about moving to this metropolis. After we will talk about the Hong Kong banking system, and list the best banks you can cooperate with.
Pros of moving to Hong Kong
Excellent transport system
Hong Kong’s public transport system is very efficient and convenient – most places can be reached by subway. Some finished places can be reached by buses. There are also trams, ferries, taxis and trains. Taxis are relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to Tokyo or even some cities in Western Europe. Apps like Uber also work. The metro and buses run frequently, so you won’t see people running after the bus here, because the next one will arrive in a couple of minutes.
English is the official language
In most cases, in Hong Kong, you will only need to know English. In many places there are signs not only in Chinese, but also in English, and the attendants in most large shopping centers speak good English.
Good healthcare system
Hong Kong has one of the highest life expectancies in the world. The quality of medical services here is at the highest level. In 2018, Bloomberg named Hong Kong’s healthcare system the most efficient in the world. There are both public and private clinics that are ready to treat even the most complex diseases.
Hong Kong is considered a very safe city – you can walk even late in the evening and at night without fear of any problems. Of course, as in any other metropolis, petty crimes happen here, but in general, Hong Kong is considered a city with a low crime rate due to strict penalties.
It is worth noting that typhoons occur in Hong Kong from May to November. There are also hurricane rainstorms that turn streets into rivers. However, all this is warned in advance and informed whether it is worth fearing. On many key buildings, in case of typhoon danger, special indicators light up: from T1 to T10. The higher the number, the faster you need to hide in a closed and secure room.
Hong Kong has some of the lowest taxes in the world. Companies only pay tax on profits made in Hong Kong at the following tax rates – 8.25% on the first HK$2 million of profits and 16.5% on anything above. No sales tax and no capital gains tax.
The payroll tax rate ranges from 2-17% depending on your salary level. Such a light tax burden attracts a large number of expats here, and many entrepreneurs prefer to register their companies in Hong Kong.
Banking system in Hong Kong
Hong Kong has traditionally been one of the most preferred places for doing international business, including with the involvement of foreign companies. This is the center of East Asia, the world’s best financial market in 2011, with a reliable banking system and a fairly low tax rate. At the same time, the banking sector in Hong Kong is not only developed, it is flourishing, as evidenced by the fact that more than 70 of the world’s largest banks have opened their main offices here and carry out operations.
The Chinese banking system has a three-tier structure and is completely under state control. The first level is formed by the People’s Bank of China and political development banks. The People’s Bank, being the issuing, credit, payment and settlement center of the country, is responsible for the development and implementation of monetary policy, and the control and supervision of the banking system is carried out by the All-China Banking Regulatory Commission.
Three political development banks – the State Development Bank of China, the Agricultural Development Bank of China, the Export-Import Bank of China – are responsible for the implementation of government programs in the industrial, agricultural and foreign trade sectors, respectively.
China’s banking system is based on state-owned second-tier commercial banks, among which the “big four” is in the lead, namely: the Bank of China, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the Construction Bank of China, the Agricultural Bank of China. State commercial banks are urban and rural. Large commercial banks are singled out as a special category, and the modernization and improvement of the efficiency of state-owned banks is the prerogative of the government.
The presence of banks controlled by non-residents in the Chinese banking system is not as extensive as in other countries, since the ban on their activities in China was lifted only after the country joined the WTO. Also at the second level are various financial companies that carry out banking operations: asset management corporations, trust investment companies, leasing financial companies.
To counteract the traditional institution of usury in China, there is a developed system of urban and rural cooperation, which is the basis for financing small and medium-sized businesses in China and occupies the third level of the banking system. It exists in the form of agricultural and urban credit cooperatives, as well as numerous post offices.
They are divided into two types: large Chinese banks with the participation of state capital – the famous “big four”: the Bank of China; Agricultural Bank of China; Industrial and Commercial Bank of China; Construction Bank of China and joint-stock banks. The country’s leadership is especially interested in the development of the largest banks and makes great efforts for this. In general, most of them are managed by residents, the share of non-residents is small, as it was under a ban for a long time, which was lifted after the country joined the WTO in 2001.
State commercial banks are divided into urban and rural depending on the field of activity. Moreover, this level of the banking system includes leasing financial, trust investment and other financial companies that carry out a wide range of banking operations. At the third level of China’s banking system are agricultural and urban credit cooperatives and post offices. They are the main base for the development of small and medium-sized businesses in the state.
So there are three types of banks in Hong Kong.
- Licensed banks can maintain current (settlement) and savings accounts, accept deposits and paychecks.
- Banks with a limited license conduct commercial banking and capital markets business and can accept deposits in excess of HK$500,000.
- Depository companies are associated with licensed banks and are involved in consumer finance, commercial lending and securities. They can accept deposits over HK$100,000 with maturities of three months or more.
Hong Kong also has a large number of foreign banks. All banks on our list are licensed banks. Banks in Hong Kong are regulated and supervised to ensure banking stability, which is a factor in the overall financial stability of the country. Below we will discuss some of the best banks in Hong Kong that provide private banking.
HSBC (The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation)
Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited, commonly known as HSBC, is the Hong Kong subsidiary of the multinational bank HSBC. Hong Kong’s largest bank, HSBC, has branches and offices in the Indo-Pacific region and elsewhere in the world. It is also one of three commercial banks licensed by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority to issue banknotes for the Hong Kong dollar.
The Bank of Hong Kong and Shanghai was founded in British Hong Kong in 1865 and was incorporated as the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation in 1866 and has been based in Hong Kong ever since (though now as a subsidiary). In 1989, it was renamed “Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited”.
It is a founding member of the HSBC Group of Banks and Companies, and since 1990 has been the namesake and one of the leading subsidiaries of London-based HSBC Holdings. PLC. The company’s business ranges from traditional High Street roles in retail banking, commercial banking, corporate banking to investment banking, private banking and global banking.
HSBC is ranked #2 in the Asian Banker ranking of banks in the Asia-Pacific region, which ranks banks based on the strength of their balance sheets.
Most recently, they reported net income of over HK$96 billion, nearly HK$8 trillion in assets, and employ over 68,000 people.
HSBC offers a wide range of both consumer and commercial services and is the leader in business accounts in Asia. They made it to the list of the best corporate and investment banks in the Asiamoney Best Bank Award 2020 list.
They are generally the bank of choice for wealthy clients, although their minimum deposit to open a consumer account is only HK$1. They serve more than 60 countries of the world, providing their global banking services. HSBC is also often chosen by foreigners because of its global services.
Hang Seng Bank
Hang Seng Bank Limited is a Hong Kong banking and financial services company headquartered in downtown Hong Kong. It is one of Hong Kong’s leading public companies in terms of market capitalization and is part of the HSBC Group, which owns a majority stake in the bank.
Hang Seng Bank is a commercial bank whose main activities include retail banking, asset management, commercial banking, treasury services and private banking. Hang Seng Bank operates a network of about 260 service points in Hong Kong. It also has a subsidiary, Hang Seng Bank (China) Limited in mainland China, which has a network of 46 branches and subsidiaries.
In 1969, he established the Hang Seng Index as a government service, and this stock market index is now widely known as Hong Kong’s main stock market indicator.
Hang Seng Bank is a commercial bank whose main activities include retail banking and asset management, corporate and commercial banking, treasury services and private banking. Hang Seng Bank operates a network of about 260 service points in Hong Kong. Hang Seng Bank is the only local bank that offers extensive MTR branch services to better serve its customers.
Hang Seng Bank established its subsidiary Hang Seng Bank (China) Limited in 2007. The subsidiary operates a network of 46 outlets in mainland China in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan, Fuzhou, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Tianjin, Kunming, Foshan, Zhongshan, Huizhou, Xiamen, Zhuhai and Jiangmen with 12 branches and 34 branches. For wholesale foreign exchange trading, Hang Seng Bank has branches in Shenzhen, Macau and Singapore, as well as a representative office in Taipei.
Bank of China (Hong Kong)
Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited, also known as Bank of China (Hong Kong) or BOCHK, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of China (through Hong Kong registered intermediate holding company BOC Hong Kong (Holdings)).
The Bank of China (Hong Kong) is the second largest commercial banking group in Hong Kong in terms of assets and customer deposits (data for 2008) with more than 190 branches in Hong Kong as of the end of 2019. It is also one of three commercial banks licensed by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority to issue banknotes for the Hong Kong dollar.
BOCHK is legally separate from its parent company, Bank of China (BOC), although they maintain a close relationship in management and administration and cooperate in several areas, including the resale of BOC’s insurance and securities services. BOCHK is also the largest member and founder of the JETCO ATM and payment system, and the authorized clearing bank in Hong Kong for RMB (RMB/CNH) transactions.
BOCHK was established on October 1, 2001 as a result of the merger of 12 subsidiaries and associates of the Bank of China in Hong Kong and listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in October 2002. As of the end of 2019, the bank’s assets were HK$3,026 billion and operating income was HK$39.8 billion. Its head office is located in the Bank of China Tower in the center of Hong Kong. The head office is shared with the Hong Kong divisions of the parent company; completed in 1988 and was the first building outside of North America to exceed 1,000 feet (300 m) in height.
Bank of China (Hong Kong) ranks 1st in the list of strong banks in the Asia-Pacific region according to Asian Banker magazine.
Their most recent reported net income was over HK$34 billion and their total assets exceed HK$3 billion. They employ more than 14,500 people.
It is the second largest commercial banking group in Hong Kong with over 190 branches. BOC offers a full range of commercial and consumer banking services.
In 2017, they were awarded the Hong Kong Bank of the Year award by The Banker in the UK and have also received awards for the various customized services they offer. They have been named the “Best Bank for CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) in Hong Kong” in Asiamoney’s 2020 Best Bank Awards for three consecutive years.
Citibank Hong Kong
Citibank began operations in Hong Kong in 1902, thus becoming the first foreign bank to offer its services there. The bank is based on Three Garden Road in Central, formerly known as Citibank Plaza.
Citibank Hong Kong has a network of 48 branches located in Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, the New Territories and Macau.
Citibank’s parent company, Citigroup, has three main divisions in Hong Kong: Citi Markets & Banking, Global Consumer Group and Global Wealth management.
The Global Consumer Group operates under the Citibank brand and offers financial products and services through 25 branches, one of which is located in Macau. In addition, Citibank Hong Kong provides investment opportunities in the form of bonds, mutual funds, insurance products, foreign exchange trading and stock trading. Through Citigold Wealth Management Banking, clients receive a customized wealth management plan. Citibank Hong Kong is also one of the largest credit card issuers in Hong Kong.
Citibank Hong Kong is ranked 37th in Asian Banker’s list of strong banks in the Asia-Pacific region. Their last reported net income was HK$3 billion and their assets are HK$224 billion.
They were the first foreign bank to offer services in Hong Kong, starting in 1902, so they have a long history in the region. They also have a strong global brand, which is one of the reasons they were chosen for our list.
They offer a full range of services for consumers and businesses and have a strong presence in the commercial and investment banking arena in Hong Kong.
Often chosen by foreigners and non-Hong Kong residents, they are one of the largest credit card issuers in the country. They offer free account packages and also have private banking services.
For two years, Citibank Hong Kong has been selected as the best global private bank by the PWM/The Banker Global Private Banking Awards.
Standard Chartered Bank Hong Kong
Standard Chartered Hong Kong is a licensed bank registered in Hong Kong and a subsidiary of Standard Chartered. It is also one of three commercial banks licensed by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority to issue banknotes for the Hong Kong dollar.
Standard Chartered Bank Hong Kong is ranked 3rd in the list of strong banks in the Asia-Pacific region by Asian Banker magazine. Their most recent reported net income was HK$9.7bn and their assets exceed HK$1.1bn.
It is one of only three banks in the country licensed to issue banknotes. They were founded in 2004 and do business in over 60 countries. They are unusual for the region in that they offer remote account opening. They offer a wide range of services and are a leader in the digital banking world. They have lower fees for some services to satisfy all consumers.
Standard Chartered Bank Hong Kong awards include:
- International Retail Bank of the Year by Asian Bank and Financing
- Asian Bank and Financing Digital Banking Initiative of the Year
- Asiamoney Award for Best Digital Bank in Hong Kong
BEA (Bank of East Asia)
Bank of East Asia Limited is a Hong Kong-based banking and financial services company headquartered in downtown Hong Kong. It is currently the largest independent local Hong Kong bank and one of two remaining Hong Kong family banks, the other being Dah Sing Bank. It is still run by the 3rd and 4th generation of the Li family.
It was registered as a public bank in Hong Kong on November 14, 1918 and officially opened for business on January 4, 1919 by a group of local Hong Kong Chinese businessmen who “not only understood modern banking but also the needs of modern Chinese people.” business.” Essentially, it was aimed at serving the local people and businesses of Hong Kong, which were currently underserved by large British banks and small, unorganized and often unincorporated local Hong Kong moneylenders. By the 1930s, BEA was considered the most powerful local Hong Kong bank in city.
Like any other bank account mentioned above, BEA provides 11 different currencies for USD accounts, passbook accounts and foreign currency deposit accounts. In addition, it includes term deposits and savings account statements.
Available currencies that BEA provides include the Australian dollar, Canadian dollar, euro, Japanese yen, New Zealand dollar, British pound, yuan, Swiss franc, South African rand, Thai baht, Singapore dollar and US dollar.
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