Meet the eight men leading Hong Kong’s virtual banking revolution

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Meet the eight men leading Hong Kong’s virtual banking revolution

As recruitment in Hong Kong’s finance sector slows down as the economy sinks into recession, hiring by the city’s eight virtual banks is helping to prop up the job market.

The new online players have not had an entirely smooth ride of late. The Covid-19 crisis has delayed launch dates for five of them and has boosted traffic to the digital channels of traditional banks such as HSBC and Citi. But virtual banks are hiring in Hong Kong and are particularly keen on taking on new technology professionals. Standard Chartered-backed Mox, for example, has 18 vacancies, 15 of which are in tech and cyber security.  

If you join a startup virtual bank in Hong Kong, you are likely to encounter a less hierarchical environment than you would at a large firm. You may be interviewed by the chief executive (at least in the final round) and your job may involve interacting with him, because team sizes are comparatively small.

Who are the men (they are all men) running Hong Kong’s virtual banks? Here’s who you need to know before you step into an interview.

Rockson Hsu, CEO, ZA Bank

Hsu has achieved something that none of his CEO counterparts have: ZA’s services have actually been launched in full (on 24 March this year). He was appointed 12 months ago and previously spent just under four years as chief risk officer at Chong Hing Bank, according to his LinkedIn profile. Hsu worked as head of wholesale credit and market risk at Hang Seng Bank from 2013 to 2015, and as head of China credit risk at Barclays between 2009 and 2013. ZA was established by the technology subsidiary of ZhongAn, the Chinese online insurance giant.

Deniz Güven, CEO, Mox

Standard Chartered holds a majority stake in Mox, in partnership with HKT, PCCW and Trip.com. Prior to transfering to Mox (which was then unnamed) in August 2018, Deniz was global head of digital for Stan Chart. He worked for Turkish bank Garanti BBVA from 2007 to 2017, most recently as head of digital, and also co-founded an Istanbul fintech accelerator. Mox has soft launched to trial its platforms.

Adrian Tse, CEO, WeLab Bank

Despite only being founded in 2018, WeLab Bank, which is wholly owned by the eponymous Chinese tech firm, has already experienced a change at the top. Tse, who was previously second in command, started his new role on 1 January following the retirement of former chief executive William Leung. Tse had only been deputy CEO for about three months and was previously at Standard Chartered for nine years, latterly as chief financial officer in Taiwan, according to his LinkedIn profile.  

Steven Yu, CEO, Ant Bank

Yu joined Ant Bank – which is 100% owned by Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial, the most valuable fintech in the world – in April 2019. Before moving to Hong Kong, Yu spent about two years at Alibaba’s Hangzhou headquarters as managing director of B2B international financial services, according to his LinkedIn profile. He held senior roles at HSBC, Deutsche Bank, and ANZ from 2002 to 2016, and was latterly ANZ’s head of trade for Asia. Ant Bank began a pilot trial last month.

Eric Sum, CEO, Fusion Bank

Sum’s move to Tencent-backed Fusion in 2018 was his first change of employer for nearly 19 years. He previously worked at Lloyds Bank, most recently as regional finance and IT director for Asia. Sum started his career in 1990 as a PwC auditor. Sum has set high expectations for his Fusion job – he wants the bank to create “revolutionary breakthroughs and opportunities” and bring in a “new era” to Hong Kong financial services.

David Sun, CEO, Livi

Sun joined Livi – the virtual bank backed by BOC Hong Kong, Jingdong Digits Technology, and Jardine Matheson Group –  having held a number of senior positions at BOC. He has been based in Hong Kong since 2016, where his responsibilities included management oversight of BOC’s branch network, consumer banking and SME business, as well as personal banking and wealth management products. Sun has more than 20 years’ experience in the banking industry.

Frederic Lau, CEO, Airstar Bank

Airstar Bank is a joint venture between AMTD Group, Asia’s largest independent investment bank, and Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi. It has already carried out a pilot trial of its services, which ended on 6 May. Lau was previously CEO of investment banking of AMTD. He is a veteran banker who previously served as a senior officer at the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and the Office of Thrift Supervision within the US Treasury Department, according to AMTD’s website.

Ryan Fung, CEO, Ping An OneConnect Bank

Like Tse from WeLab, Fung was hired (in February 2019) from Stan Chart. He was with the bank for more than seven years, held a number of senior roles, and was latterly head of distribution network for retail banking in Hong Kong. Prior to SCB, Fung was chief executive at personal finance firm PrimeCredit, where he worked for about 11 years, according to his LinkedIn profile. Chinese financial services conglomerate Ping An owns 100% of the virtual bank that Fung is now running.

Photo by Hugo D. on Unsplash

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