Hong Kong has always provided a unique platform for businesses looking to build a presence in Asia and this decade will be no different. The four core pillars of the economy are powering ahead with the rapid adoption of technology and the rollout of reforms. Meanwhile, a creative set of pillars has arisen that leverage the city’s traditional strengths and lead to broad opportunities.
Hong Kong is first and foremost an international financial centre. This dynamic city of some 7.5 million people is a global banking giant with a deep pool of investment capital and a chart-topping global stock exchange. A combination of this rich financial pedigree with new technology has created the framework for a growing fintech industry. Banking and insurance start-ups are benefitting from regulatory reforms and the ability to hire talent from all over the world, leading one CEO to describe Hong Kong as “the city for digital banking”.
Hong Kong made its name as a trading entrepôt and that import-export ethos continues to this day. Everything and everyone is on the move and this city knows how to transport goods around the world. Cargo enters and leaves one of the busiest airports in the world, while lorries drive in and out of the container port at all hours. Even the ships themselves are up for sale: Hong Kong is the regional port of call for the buying and selling of luxury yachts. Geography continues to pay dividends: half of the world’s population lives within five hours by air.
Hong Kong’s hospitality experts have been keeping residents and office workers well looked after while they wait for the safe return of overseas tourists. Myriad international chefs and restaurateurs are cooking up a storm in Hong Kong, where local palates are both uncompromising and hungry for fresh concepts. Five-star service has always been one of Hong Kong’s specialities. The city’s heavyweight hotel sector has the red carpet ready to roll out and plans in place to wow new guests and diners in the years ahead.
Not everyone in Hong Kong works in finance; there are also plenty of lawyers, accountants, engineers and architects too. Hong Kong’s professional-services sector stands out in Asia for its expertise and overseas companies looking to invest or expand in mainland China come to Hong Kong for its trusted legal system. Students, meanwhile, are drawn to its top-ranked universities. Hong Kong invests heavily in education and its natural environment provides opportunities for learning beyond the classroom.
Hong Kong has a strong science and technology background; hidden-away laboratories just tend to be overshadowed by the bright lights of banking and finance. Now the industries are being brought closer together. Biotechnology companies are funding research by listing on the stock market, while entrepreneurs are working with academics to take inventions from the lab to the market. Manufacturing and hardware have always been among Hong Kong’s strengths and robotics is a new growth area.
Hong Kong’s current crop of designers is starting to make a name for themselves around the region and their expertise extends far beyond hospitality interiors. The city is home to one of the world’s largest workplace design firms, where creative teams are collaborating to create safe, clean and inspiring office environments. There’s also plenty of fun to be had along with the hard work. Exploring Hong Kong’s great outdoors is a natural source of inspiration and provides the city’s creatives with fresh ideas.
Many Hong Kong fortunes (and business yarns) have been made in the textile industry and the garment industry is stitched into the fabric of this city. Alongside international brands sourcing materials and manufacturing, local creatives are developing their own brands and fashion graduates are getting a commercial leg-up before launching their designs on the global catwalk schedule. Members of the younger generation are helming classic labels, while new arrivals are giving luxury a second life. Nevertheless, some fashions never change: in Hong Kong, it always pays to look the part.
Hong Kong is adding a few more layers to its established reputation as an international art market. A variety of artists’ spaces and creative enclaves are springing up across the city and art lovers around the region are eagerly awaiting the opening of a world-class contemporary art and design museum in Kowloon. International curators and other industry professionals are building a home as well as a career in Hong Kong, while developing a strong appreciation for its culture. In this modern skyscraper city, heritage appreciation is on a high and an old ferry is the real star.