Hong Kong to unveil cash-for-residency plan, tax incentives at Friday's wealth summit to attract family offices

·4 min read

The Hong Kong government will announce a slew of measures at a key wealth summit on Friday, such as a revamped investment migration scheme, while new tax concessions and incentives will be offered for family offices to make it easier to set up charities and grow their art collection, Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Christopher Hui said.

The measures are aimed at fending off Singapore and attracting more wealthy people to set up family offices here and to reconnect Hong Kong to the world after the city scrapped all Covid restrictions in December.

More than 100 global leaders of family office operators from America, the Middle East and Asia are bringing their teams to Hong Kong to attend "The Wealth for Good in Hong Kong Summit", Hui said in an interview with the Post.

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"We believe the wide range of new policies will help attract the world's biggest family offices to come to Hong Kong to manage their wealth, conduct their charity programmes and collect artworks to pass on to the next generation," Hui said.

Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Christopher Hui Ching-yu. Photo: Xiaomei Chen alt=Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Christopher Hui Ching-yu. Photo: Xiaomei Chen>

Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po in his budget last month announced the government would allocate HK$100 million (US$12.8 million) to InvestHK to promote family offices and other wealth-management businesses. In October, Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu set a target of attracting 200 large family offices to the city by 2025.

The one-day summit, to be held at the Hong Kong Palace Museum in West Kowloon Cultural District on Friday, will have over 20 key speakers. They include Hong Kong tycoon Richard Li Tzar-kai, Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang, Xiaomi co-founder KK Wong, Tesla board member Hiromichi Mizuno, EQT Asia chairman Jean Eric Salata, Art Basel CEO Noah Horowitz and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation director Robert Rosen.

The summit, which will discuss four different themes - technology, philanthropy, green initiatives and art - will be closed to the public to safeguard the privacy of the high-profile participants, Hui said.

A number of US lender Citi's senior executives will fly to Hong Kong to join the summit, including Hannes Hofmann, Citi Private Bank's global head of family office group. Citi serves more than 1,600 family offices worldwide with an average net worth of US$2 billion.

"In Asia, our family office client base has grown by around 40 per cent in the past two years," said Bernard Wai, head of Asia at Citi Private Bank's global family office group.

He said Hong Kong has the potential to develop into a global hub for family offices because of its unique role as the gateway between China and the world. "We have been very encouraged by the significant increase in enquiries from mainland clients to set up family offices since the reopening of the borders," Wai said.

The Wealth for Good in Hong Kong Summit will be held at the Hong Kong Palace Museum on Friday. Photo: Nora Tam alt=The Wealth for Good in Hong Kong Summit will be held at the Hong Kong Palace Museum on Friday. Photo: Nora Tam>

Lawmakers will soon vote to amend legislation to offer tax incentives for family office operators, while the government also plans to announce details on a revamp of an investment scheme that allows overseas individuals to gain residency in the city by investing in stocks, bonds or start-ups.

Daryl Ng Win-kong, deputy chairman of developer Sino Land, said Hong Kong has "wonderful investment opportunities in finance, tech, sustainability and property, on top of our sound legal and tax system and 'one country, two systems' political stability offered by China".

Hong Kong had introduced the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme (CIES) after the Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak in 2003 but ended the plan in 2015 due to speculation in the property market.

Singapore has since enhanced its reputation as a hub for family offices, with the number rising to 700 in 2021 from 400 in 2020, according to the latest government data.

Hui said Hong Kong's capital market, which was the world's largest initial public offering market seven times in the past 14 years, is ideal for family offices to diversify their investments.

"The soon-to-be launched listing reform allowing pre-revenue technology firms to list here and the introduction of yuan shares and digital assets trading from the middle of this year will add to the attractiveness of Hong Kong," Hui said.

Additional reporting by Peggy Sito

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2023 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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