Our second Asian adventure this September has been in unseasonably warm and humid Hong Kong. A full report on the Asia Treasury Leaders’ Forum will appear in the Treasurer so here’s just a taster of a few days beside the fragrant harbour.
There remains a wonderful contrast between the apparent calm and order of Singapore and the neon frenzy of Hong Kong not least in terms of air quality! But there’s more to Hong Kong than meets the eye. Your correspondent was lucky enough to asked to give a lunchtime lecture to undergraduate students (mostly in finance and business) at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology on their beautiful campus overlooking Clearwater Bay. Whilst the view was spectacular, the enthusiasm and energy shown by the students – drawn mostly from Hong Kong but including some from other Asian countries and as far afield as the US and Europe – to develop their academic and professional knowledge was palpable.
What’s clear though that if this is really going to be the Asian century then competition for talent, for ideas and for leadership is going to be fierce, increasingly meritocratic and driven solely by ambition and attitude. Our conference delegates reflect this too, with a gender balance for example that we don’t see at our other major events in the UK, Europe or the Middle East.
In general our delegates were drawn from all across the Hong Kong business spectrum, from blue chips to SMEs, start-ups and multi-nationals too. Our speakers likewise represented all the strands of corporate finance and treasury in the territory, with a keynote presentation from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, to panellists from banking, tech vendors and corporate CFOs and Group Treasurers.
The central theme of ‘Driving Growth, Mitigating Risk’, whether in risk management, banking relationships, creating regional treasury centres or regulation, saw lively debate and discussion all through the day. In particular, the impact of regulation – positive and negative – caught both the ear and the eye!
As is customary for the ACT, a special mention should be made for the food provided by our venue. It wouldn’t be a proper ACT event if not!!