Improving Banking Services In Hong Kong

img_improving_banking_services_in_hong_kongHong Kong, as an international financial centre, is dependent on the provision of financial services and support to companies not only registered in Hong Kong but globally. However, Hong Kong banks have recently been getting bad press for declining new account opening, and for poor customer service and satisfaction. The closure by some banks of accounts that have been open for many years has increased the frustration of both clients and trust and corporate service providers.
Banks and financial institutions have been left nervous by political and regulatory pressure to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, and in some cases banks have been fined substantial sums for compliance-related failings. In addition the need to comply with the USA’s Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act and, from 2017-18, with the automatic exchange of information required by the OECD-sponsored Common Reporting Standards has contributed to banks seeking zero-risk for existing and new bank accounts.
Consumer and trade bodies and organizations have become acutely aware of the commercial dangers of the banks aggressively “de-risking’ and several bodies have tried to try and mediate a reasonable approach by banks, although with limited results. Consumer complaints continued to increase until the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), Hong Kong’s banking regulator, had little choice but to intervene to try to ensure the financial inclusion of SMEs. In its latest guidance circular to banks and financial institutions HKMA recognized the seriousness of the issue and further clarified the risk-based approach they expect from financial institutions, and banks in particular. Furthermore, HKMA is taking an active role to assist banks in developing a more transparent and fair approach. Given this involvement and further efforts to reduce the expectation gap between banks and consumers, it raises the hope that account opening will become easier in the near future.
Zetland can assist with bank account opening in Hong Kong, Singapore and other jurisdictions. For assistance, please contact us at