A dedicated presence in Hong Kong over the past 15 months has paid dividends for Guernsey Finance and has been strengthened by the appointment of an experienced executive.
The promotional agency for the island’s finance industry opened an office in Hong Kong at the end of 2016, linking up with the regulator, the Guernsey Financial Services Commission. The presence in Hong Kong has supported the development of the agency’s ongoing work in China, which began more than 10 years ago.
“We have been aiming to increase awareness of Guernsey as an option for the full range of financial services,” said Kate Clouston, Deputy Chief Executive at Guernsey Finance, who is a regular visitor to Asia.
“Our presence in Hong Kong has given us more visibility to the Hong Kong network of intermediaries and has better informed them about the opportunity to work with Guernsey service providers.
“The GFSC has received more than 100 technical inquiries across all sectors over the past 15 months and it has certainly been helpful to have their presence to support our work.
“Our work in China is well-established and we continue to look for opportunities coming directly from the Chinese mainland, while recognising that Hong Kong is considered a gateway to China and that a significant amount of China-related business comes through there.”
Jacob Cherry, the GFSC’s Senior Regulatory Advisor in Hong Kong, gave a high-level summary of market developments since Q1 2017.
“Asian corporates are beginning to appreciate Guernsey’s providence as a specialist centre of excellence that is joined-up and nimble enough that cross-sectoral collaboration within the finance industry is common,” he said. “There is developing interest from various sectors in the quality tailored financial solutions for which Guernsey is known.
“Hong Kong introducers have observed that market demand for more sophisticated financial solutions continues to grow slowly but surely among Asian private clients. Guernsey’s bespoke offering of services contrasts with the commoditised products that Asian clients are more accustomed to, which reinforces the necessity for Guernsey stakeholders to continue to proactively build trust in these markets.”
Guernsey Finance has also employed a new permanent representative in Hong Kong. Dorothy Kwok has eight years’ experience in the trust and corporate services industry, most recently with a company, which was bought by global trust business Equiom (also has a Guernsey office). Her work with Equiom and another Jersey-based trust company brought her into contact with Channel Islands structures and she spent time working in Jersey.
Fully-qualified with the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), Miss Kwok is looking forward to promoting Guernsey in her home market.
“Guernsey’s financial services are well respected in Hong Kong,” she said. “I am looking forward to playing my part in ensuring that our offering is known more widely, and that Guernsey is recognised for its expertise.”
Ms Clouston will lead Guernsey industry delegations to Hong Kong and China in April, September and November this year.
“My main aims will be to increase our contact with trust and private client intermediaries, to build stronger relationships with fund managers and to build on the progress we have made with our insurance offering to date in the region,” she said.
“There is opportunity for everyone in Asia and we are looking at all sectors, and Dorothy’s trust background and fiduciary network will be especially helpful.”