China draws closer to wealth link with Hong Kong
China has taken another step towards a system that could result in the influx of tens of billions of dollars in household savings into Hong Kong, marking the latest effort to integrate the country’s financial system with global markets.
The Wealth Connect program will invest up to 150 billion RMB ($ 23 billion) back and forth between Hong Kong and mainland China, with a limit of 1 million RMB ($ 155,000) for individuals.
The program is expected to be an important step in liberalizing China’s tightly controlled financial system, as it would make it much easier to place part of the country’s vast savings pool outside its borders.
It will allow households in the Greater Bay Area, part of southern China with more than 70 million people, including the cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen, to purchase investment products in Hong Kong. It was first unveiled in June of last year.
The People’s Bank of China, along with other regulators in the country, said the program would be open for public comment before the May 21 deadline.
The program will complement existing programs that link the mainland stock and bond markets to Hong Kong. It will also allow foreign investors to purchase mainland products, thus strengthening Hong Kong’s status as a gateway for capital flows to and from China.
People in mainland China with two years of investment experience and more than RMB 1 million in net assets will be eligible to use Wealth Connect, according to the draft rules released on Thursday which confirmed figures released by the Monetary Authority of Hong Kong last year.
Daniel Chan, head of HSBC’s Greater Bay Area operations, said the announcement marked “another encouraging step towards opening mainland China’s capital markets and strengthening Hong Kong’s status as a international financial center ”.
“This is also another important step for the internationalization of the renminbi,” he added.
International banks have increased their investments in marketing wealth management products in China in a race to attract high net worth clients. HSBC announced in February that it would hire 5,000 wealth planners in mainland China as part of a $ 3.5 billion investment in its wealth management division.
Hong Kong and Chinese authorities plan to roll out the program in the second half of 2021. HKMA Managing Director Eddie Yue said last year that the program was “an important step in the liberalization of the capital account on the mainland ”and that it“ underpinned Hong Kong’s strategic strategy. importance in the process of financial opening of the continent ”.
A so-called closed-loop system means that Wealth Connect will not allow savers to take cash out of the mainland, with all assets ultimately repatriated to China.
A senior official close to the project’s launch said the program “will not guarantee freedom of funds outside of China.”
“People will be able to profit from the hike economically, but the money will ultimately stay in the country,” he said.
This program is part of a series of recent reforms by the Chinese government, which include easing foreign investors’ access to futures markets and limits on the ownership of mutual funds and securities companies.