Political unrest pushing fund execs to seek HK exit
29th July 2019
With the prolonged political unrest in Hong Kong becoming more violent and unpredictable, some concerned fund professionals from the territory are looking for opportunities elsewhere, recruitment experts say.
Following six weeks of widespread demonstrations, pro-democracy protesters and innocent passers-by were attacked by thugs, suspected of being triad gang members in Hong Kong’s northern district Yuen Long on July 21. Confrontations between police and protesters continued in the suburb and other parts of Hong Kong on Sunday.
In response to the violent attacks, Bernard Chan, a top advisor of Hong Kong CEO, Carrie Lam, said the government was unable to offer a “personal assurance” to international companies that their staff were safe as “things are evolving so fast” and polices resources were overstretched.
Even though top executives at fund houses in Hong Kong told Ignites Asia earlier this month that the political turmoil had not shaken their businesses at a boardroom level, it appears some individuals in the industry are starting to act on their worries about their safety and the future prospects of the territory.
Two Hong Kong-based fund professionals took new offers for positions based in Singapore last week, just a couple of days after the attacks in Yuen Long, according to Will Tan, Singapore-based managing partner at executive search firm Principle Partners.
One of the executives, who is from the mainland, accepted the new job because he feels Singapore is probably better for him and his family. The other was convinced to make the move by his Singapore-based family, who were worried about his safety.
For these two candidates, the “last straw” was the indiscriminate attacks at the train station in Yuen Long, Tan says.
Many candidates looking for new positions have cited the ongoing political unrest in Hong Kong as “disruptive” to their jobs and say they have concerns about the safety of their families. “You can call it fear, or the constant worry about safety. It’s going to take a toll,” Tan says.
One senior executive who lives in Yuen Long and works in Hong Kong’s central business district at an asset management company tells Ignites Asia that he returned home early from work around 3 p.m. on Monday last week for fear of repeated violence against residents in the area.
The executive also cancelled his trip to Shanghai on Friday as he was afraid of delays caused by protests at Hong Kong’s airport at the end of last week.
While Hong Kong in many respects is still a very safe place to live, the rising political tensions and recent violent skirmishes are “always at the back of your mind”, Tan says. “How do you continue to work if you’re worried about your kid and wife?” he adds.
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Reverse mentoring, whereby senior professionals seek opportunities to learn from their junior colleagues, could be described as the corporate enactment of teaching old dogs new tricks.
Some believe it is an effective way of ensuring that fresh ideas and new technological approaches can flourish in the traditionally conservative asset management industry.
It was in 1999 when Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, first promoted the concept of reverse mentoring, by switching up the usual top-down approach by allowing younger members of the workforce to coach the more senior-level executives about newly introduced technology and manufacturing techniques.
Ultimately, reverse mentoring is a two-way street, according to Will Tan, Singapore-based managing director at recruitment firm Principle Partners.
Each generation may have different priorities growing up, but it is from these differences that people can learn more about how to work together, and this in turn could translate to better teamwork and ultimately form a more cohesive team, says Tan.