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Investing in US ETFs from Hong Kong: An expat’s guide

If you have any questions or want to invest as an expat or high-net-worth individual, you can email me (advice@adamfayed.com) or use these contact options.

It is possible to invest in non-US domiciled ETFs, gaining the same exposure to the American markets, without the need to actually buy US funds, and this is something we have helped countless clients with.

Introduction

Hong Kong SAR is one of the most popular destinations for expats and investors, both for its reputation as one of the wealthiest cities in the world and its globally significant equities market.

If you are an investor or a high net worth individual living in Asia, chances are you already have some forms of investments in Hong Kong.

But what if you have want to diversify your portfolio and have some exposure to the biggest companies in the western world? Buying US-based ETFs from Hong Kong might be the key.

In this article, we will discuss your options.

Buying US ETFs from Hong Kong is a good way to diversify your portfolio.
Buying US ETFs from Hong Kong is a good way to diversify your portfolio. | Photo: Pexels

What should I become an investor in Hong Kong?

The Hong Kong stock market is one of the most popular places to invest in Asia, and with good reason.

It’s a mature market that has been around for almost four decades, meaning there are plenty of resources available to help you learn about investing in Hong Kong stocks.

It also operates on a free market economy, which means that anyone can invest in the stock market and buy funds like ETFs from Hong Kong.

In fact, since the debut of the Heritage’s Index of Economic Freedom in 1995, Hong Kong has been rated as having the freest economy in the entire world.

Take note that it is also a special administrative region of China. This means that it has its own government, legal, and judicial system separate from China, as well as its own economy and stock exchange.

Using its unique political and economic circumstances, Hong Kong has since positioned itself as a hub for both international and Chinese commerce. It is also regarded as China’s main financial hub. As a result, Hong Kong is home to more than 1,300 businesses with headquarters throughout the world.

With a population of over 7.3 million, it has the 33rd-largest economy in the world, with a $320.9 billion yearly GDP—the 17th highest GDP per capita in the world ($43,681) as of 2021.

It’s important to keep in mind that Hong Kong is one of the most stable economies in the world, and it has a history of being a safe place to invest.

Its political and economic independence also makes it unlikely for you to lose your investment due to political or economic instability, such as volatility or a slowdown in China’s growth.

Hong Kong’s legal system is also independent from China’s, so there’s no risk of government interference with your investment decisions or policies related to foreign exchange rates.

At the same time, Hong Kong is also the gateway to China and the many opportunities you can find there.

What are ETFs?

ETFs are an easy way to invest in the stock market. They’re often lumped together with index funds given their similar nature. Both ETFs and index funds track a particular index of securities such as the S&P 500 or Nasdaq 100.

The main difference between the two is that ETFs can be traded throughout the day much like how you would stocks. Index funds meanwhile can only be bought and sold only for the set price at the end of each trading day.

The performance of a certain investment index, such as the S&P 500 or Dow Jones Industrial Average, is tracked by an ETF, and the ETF’s price then corresponds to its net asset value.

ETFs trade like stocks because, as their name implies, they are funds that are traded on exchanges like the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong (HKEX).

ETFs often have many underlying assets, so you can purchase a fund that tracks an entire industry, index, or market sector where that company is present rather than purchasing individual shares of the company.

For instance, as an investor who buys US ETFs from Hong Kong, you can get exposure to the equities and securities from US firms without having to trade their stocks directly.

ETFs are generally considered more liquid than individual stocks, which means they’re easier and cheaper to trade. That’s why investors use them as part of their portfolio management strategy.

The biggest benefit of investing in ETFs is that they have low fees compared with mutual funds. This is because an ETF needs little to no management whatsoever, as they can simply track how the indexes they are based on performs throughout the day and reflect their values automatically.

Another big advantage of ETFs is that they give you exposure to the entire market without having to buy individual securities first. You can even buy them with as little as $100! This allows investors who don’t have much capital available but still want something liquid and easily accessible when they need it most.

Why should I buy ETFs?

In terms of investments, ETFs are relatively straightforward. They are extremely liquid, which makes it easier for you to invest in them because you can purchase and sell them right away.

This liquidity is important for flexibility, especially for foreign nationals or expats residing in Hong Kong. The simplicity and accessibility of purchasing or selling shares can allow you more control to respond to on market conditions.

If a certain stock is rising or falling, there will always be a large number of buyers and sellers looking to trade ETFs.

Moreover, the liquidity can help with wealth management, allowing you a vehicle to park your money while you assess or evaluate your investment portfolio.

You can essentially hold an ETF after purchase until your investment grows. When you decide to sell it, you can decide whether to use the proceeds to cover any needs you may have or to reinvest them in another asset class.

With ETFs, investors also have access to more information than they would have with traditional mutual funds because they are traded on exchanges where investors may quickly access them, as opposed to mutual funds where you rely on a middle man to make decisions for you.

Information like bid/ask spreads, order executions, trading volumes, price quotes from various market makers like banks, brokers, or hedge funds, bid/ask spreads, and more are open to you when you trade ETFs, and this can give you more assurance when making your investment choices.

What should I know before I start investing in ETFs from Hong Kong?

The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong (HKEX) has helpful online resources for new investors getting started on their investing journey.

The HKEX notes that any investors looking to trade Hong Kong securities and derivative products are required to go through their transactions with Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) licensed individuals or registered institutions.

For a list of licensed individuals and the regulated activities they are authorized to engage in, investors can consult the “Public Register of Licensed Persons and Registered Institutions” at the SFC website (www.sfc.hk).

The trading facilities of a licensed individual or registered institution that participates in the exchange may have direct access to the trading facilities of HKEX. A list of Exchange Participants can be found on the HKEX website under “Participant Information” of “Find a Partner” under “PRODUCTS.”

Investors are also advised to examine the services and costs of various companies before choosing a securities or futures company to do business with.

HKEX notes that higher commission fees may be charged by businesses that offer value-added services such as in-depth research, investment advice, or other services than simply trading on behalf of clients.

Some just provide cash accounts, while others also manage margin or discretionary accounts. Before choosing a securities or futures firm and the kind of accounts to be opened, investors should carefully consider their individual investment and financial needs.

Additionally, investors from all around the world are welcome to participate in the open and free derivatives and securities markets operated by HKEX. Before trading in Hong Kong, however, foreign investors should abide by the laws that govern foreign exchange in their home nations or residences.

How can I buy US ETFs from Hong Kong?

Buying and selling US ETFs from Hong Kong is not difficult if you know how to do it, though there are some things that should be taken into consideration before making any transactions.

One other reason why we recommend using ETFs over individual securities is because they’re always listed on major exchanges worldwide, including the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong.

There is no worry about where you’ll find them or how much stock brokers will charge for buying them if there’s no physical location nearby. ETFs can be bought and sold throughout the day like many other common stocks and listed on exchanges as well.

You can buy ETFs through a broker, and as there are many brokers in Hong Kong, offering similar services, you can shop for choices and check which ones tickle your fancy.

If you want to buy ETFs from Hong Kong through your local broker, they will guide you through the process of purchasing an ETF and then place it on your account for trading.

This also means you can easily buy or sell an ETF from Hong Kong by simply going online, which makes them very convenient for investors who want access to their investments without having to physically go through an intermediary like a bank or traditional brokerage firm.

ETFs that tracks US indexes like the S&P500 can be found on websites for online brokerages including E*TRADE Financial Corporation, Fidelity Investments, and Robinhood Financial Inc.

This is a list of some of the exchange traded products listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

These include ETFs from Hong Kong that track underlying indexes such as the Ping An Nasdaq AI and Robotics ETF which tracks the Nasdaq CTA Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Index; and the ICBC CSOP S&P New China Sectors ETF which tracks the S&P New China Sectors Index.

The Hong Kong Stock Exchange is one of the most significant exchanges in Asia.
The Hong Kong Stock Exchange is one of the most significant exchanges in Asia. | Photo: Pexels

Why would I want to buy US ETFs from Hong Kong?

Hong Kong is a gateway to Asian markets. As an open financial center with no capital controls or quantitative restrictions on investment flows, investors around the world can easily access these markets through Hong Kong’s extensive network of banks and financial services providers.

Hong Kong is a market economy. This means that the government does not directly intervene in the economy, and it allows private firms to run businesses without interference from anyone else.

Hong Kong also has a free market, which means that you are allowed to buy and sell anything you want at any time, as long as you’re willing to pay for it or take on risk.

As an investor living in Hong Kong, you have access to one of the world’s most financially stable financial markets and one of the fastest growing exchanges. But every investor knows that putting all your eggs in one basket is a beginner’s mistake.

Investors frequently look into their possibilities for international investments as they develop solid portfolios, strive to reduce risk and optimize performance.

Participating in the international stock market might offer investors a great way to diversify their holdings. Around 20 to 40 percent of an investment portfolio should, according to best practice estimates for international investing, be made up of foreign stocks.

This is why we recommend investors to have roughly 25% of their investments to be connected to international businesses.

This is because this kind of portfolio composition gives you the best defense against market volatility and can raise your chances of increasing your wealth.

Having assets in a variety of various choices will help to safeguard you when local politics and events have an impact on that country’s stock exchanges. By investing in various types of markets and various exchanges, you reduce your overall risk.

Key Takeaways

Investing in US ETFs from Hong Kong is an excellent option for investors who want to gain exposure to the U.S. market and its financial services sector.

The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong is one of the largest stock markets in Asia, offering traders a variety of trading options including stocks and futures contracts in addition to ETFs.

If you are looking for direct access to American markets without having to go through another exchange or broker, then investing in US ETFs from Hong Kong could be an ideal solution for you!

We highly suggest consulting with a trusted financial planner or advisor about investing internationally to fully maximize the profits you can gain from your investments.

Conclusion

When it comes to investing in US ETFs from Hong Kong, there are many benefits. From the low fees to diversification, you can get all of this and more when you invest in US ETFs. If you want more information about investing in ETFs from Hong Kong, contact us today!

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Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 735.2 million answer views on Quora.com, a widely sold book on Amazon, and a contributor on Forbes.

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