Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission received more than 7,300 new licence applications were received during the first seven months of this year, an increase of 46% compared to the same period in 2009.

This brought the total number of SFC licensees – which covers both corporations and inviduals – to 37,694 as of the end of July, surpassing the previous record of 37,373 in November 2008.

Most of the new licence applications submitted in the first seven months of the year came from individuals joining firms licensed by the SFC and already carrying on business in Hong Kong.

As for new corporate applications in the same period, around 85% came from firms seeking to establish securities-dealing and asset-management businesses.

“The latest statistics suggest a cautious return of confidence amongst intermediaries participating in the Hong Kong market following the financial crisis and underscores Hong Kong’s attraction as an international finance centre for both local and overseas corporations,” says Martin Wheatley, the SFC’s chief executive.

Regulated activities under the SFC are as follows: securities dealing, futures dealing, leveraged foreign-exchange trading, advising on securities, advising on futures, advising on corporate finance, providing automated trading services, securities margin financing, and asset management.