Hong Kong’s Securities & Futures Commission last month appointed five new members from the city’s corporate, commercial and financial landscape to serve on its advisory committee.
Among them was Anna Wong Wai-kwan, chief executive for HSBC Broking Services (Asia), a retail and corporate securities brokerage and a wholly owned subsidiary of HSBC Corporation.
Wong was Hong Kong market head for HSBC Private Bank before switching to her present role in November 2009. She manages 300 staff, including 130 sales people, in a business with more than 10,000 active clients.
The SFC Advisory Committee was established under the Securities & Finance Ordinance to advise the regulator on policy matters related to its regulatory objectives and functions. It comprises 12 members who meet about once every two months, with each term running for two years. Members can serve no more than three consecutive terms.
AsianInvestor spoke to Wong to determine what would be expected of her in this advisory role and what she might hope to achieve.
How did you come to be appointed to the SFC Advisory Committee?
I was approached by the Financial Services and Treasury Bureau for the potential appointment. I have had interactions with FSTB in various capacities. Professor KC Chan, secretary for financial services and the treasury, then sent me a letter confirming the appointment.
How do you interact with the SFC in your job?
The SFC is my company’s regulator. I am the responsible officer and represent HSBC Broking Services on all regulated activities. I am also a director of the Hong Kong Securities Association and the Hong Kong Securities Institute, both of which have periodic dialogue with the FSTB.
So what segment will you be representing on the committee?
This is the exact question I asked. As far as I understand it, the 12 appointed members on the committee come from a wide spectrum of businesses, not just the securities industry, but also banks, asset-management companies and the commercial sector. They want people from different areas, so I assume they wanted someone from the securities industry as well.
What is it you want to achieve in this role and what corner will you be fighting?
Of course I did some research before deciding to take this position, looking at the objectives of the SFC and what this role might entail. In terms of my contribution, when there is policy change or macro change in the economy and the investment environment, I hope to provide my thoughts on how the SFC might want to react to those changes. I would speak for the securities industry and consider how changes in SFC policy and procedure might impact our industry.
So your role would be as an independent?
Yes, the appointment is as an individual person. But of course, as with all external appointments, I needed to go through the relevant approvals process and get my management’s endorsement.
Is there anything you feel strongly about and will press for change in the securities industry?
The direction that the Hong Kong stock exchange and the SFC are moving in right now is the right one. I will try to strike a balance, not just by considering protection of the securities industry, but also taking into account Hong Kong’s overall economic growth and development.
What are the hot topics within the securities industry at the moment?
Changes that the HKSE is putting through include extending trading hours for both cash and derivatives markets. This is one of the topics on which the advisory committee wanted me to give them advice.
So what is your view on longer trading hours?
We have to follow the world trend to put Hong Kong in the best position. That means our trading hours have to be in line with global trading hours; you have to have A-shares and H-shares trading in line so that the two markets are more in sync. The first changes went through in March [from four hours to five]. If you ask me, the key is to have enough consultation, to make sure everyone has a chance to voice their opinions.
Is your role on the SFC Advisory Committee something you look forward to, and why?
Yes, very much. No doubt there will be more personal exposure for me, and I hope I can make a positive contribution and share real industry views with high-level SFC members.
The other newly appointed members to the SFC Advisory Committee were: Katherine Cheung Marn-kay, managing director at BlackRock (Hong Kong); Brian David Lee Man-bun, deputy CEO of Bank of East Asia; Peter Lo Chi-wai, chief country officer for Deutsche Bank Hong Kong; and Frederick Tsang Sui-cheong, chief risk officer for China Everbright.
Cheung declined to be interviewed. AsianInvestor could not reach Deutsche's Lo and did not try to contact Brian David Lee or Frederick Tsang.