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Morning Coffee: Pressure grows on Hong Kong compliance teams as regulator hires 39 staff

Compliance

Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) is hiring 39 more staff costing HK$55m (US$7.09m – more than US$180k per head) over the financial year starting in April, according to the South China Morning Post.

The move is part of wider plans to beef up the regulator’s enforcement activity. It will put further pressure on compliance teams in Hong Kong’s securities sector, which according to compliance recruiters, are already stretched as they deal with increased workloads created by the regulatory challenges of Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect.

It could also trigger an increase in candidate movement between regulators and financial-services firms in Hong Kong. As we reported in November, banks in Hong Kong are increasingly considering compliance candidates who’ve worked for Asian regulators like the SFC and Hong Kong Monetary Authority. Now the regulators are biting back. Although not all the SFC roles will offer a pay packet as high as US$180k, compliance professionals from banks are expected to apply in large numbers. A stint at a regulator is career gold dust in compliance.

A new study has revealed that the SFC has drastically stepped its enforcement activity. The regulator issued 56% more disciplinary and criminal actions against companies and individuals last year than it did in 2013, according to a report from law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. “The regulator has made it clear that proactive investigations – and more enforcement activity – will be the norm in Hong Kong for the foreseeable future,” Freshfields’ Hong Kong disputes partner, Georgia Dawson, told the South China Morning Post.

Meanwhile:

Frank Gong, chairman of investment banking for China at J.P. Morgan, is leaving the bank. (Wall Street Journal)

The Monetary Authority of Singapore’s surprise currency easing highlights the difficulties of tightening the local labour market while improving productivity, says ING Bank. (Wall Street Journal)

Singapore landlords suffering as growth of expat work visas cools. (Bloomberg)

Recruiter Michael Page predicts lots of movement in the Singapore job market this year. (SMB World)

Hong Kong and Singapore have the world’s “freest” economies, says US think tank. (South China Morning Post)

Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower has taken action against about 100 companies for posting discriminatory jobs since the implementation of the Fair Consideration Framework in August. (Eversheds)


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