Thousands of corporate leaders across the globe came together virtually to celebrate the 14th Asian Financial Forum.
“My optimism for Hong Kong is clear and compelling,” Paul Chan, Financial Secretary of the HKSAR says. “It’s built on our distinctive advantages under the ‘one country, two systems’ arrangement.
“I’m talking about Hong Kong’s world-class financial system and the professional services prowess that supports it. To that, add the free flow of information, talent, capital and goods, in and out of Hong Kong.
“No less vital is our longstanding rule of law and level playing field tied to our transparent and internationally aligned regulatory system, low and simple tax regime and deep market liquidity.
“Put it all together and you know why Hong Kong means business – whatever business you’re in, whatever investment interests you may have.”
The prestigious event, which is typically hosted in Hong Kong, posed the opportunity for leading businesspeople to explore what a post-pandemic world could look like.
Nobel Laureate Paul Romer, Reddit and Seven Seven Six’s Co-Founder Alexis Ohanian, Blackstone’s Co-Founder Stephen Schwarzman, Apple’s Siri Co-Creator Luc Julia, Hillhouse Capital’s Founder Lei Zhang and Calvert Impact Capital’s Jennifer Pryce, were among the prestigious keynote speakers.
Paul Romer explained during his keynote session that while business travel may decrease, some economic trends including urbanisation will continue. As wealth increases in Asia, he added the region is set to become a leader in urban development as people desire more living space.
More than 60 dialogues and discussion sessions were organised at the Asian Financial Forum, of which The CEO Magazine is a proud partner, leading to more than 160 distinguished finance policymakers and business leaders examining the market situation and sharing insights.
“Conventional investing for value-orientated securities has really lagged because those companies are being disrupted, but I think there will be a rotation to some of the more traditional businesses as they recover,” said Stephen Schwarzman.
Additionally, Alexis Ohanian explained it was an interesting time for startups being in the “right place at the right time”.
“Travel is a good example,” he said. “There is an opportunity right now if you’re building the right kind of travel business to seize a large part of the market quickly, because as the vaccine rollout continues, and as we start to beat COVID-19, there will be a huge appetite for things that fell to zero over the past year.”
During a number of seminars, real-time polling showed that 55 per cent of participants believed global economic activities would take one year to return to normal. However, 17 per cent believed it would take more than two years to return to normal.
Meanwhile, 68 per cent believed Mainland China would offer the best investment return in 2021, while 32 per cent of respondents were optimistic on the outlook for the global economy.
As for the biggest challenge faced by the banking industry in 2021, 32 per cent of respondents believed credit risk and quality, followed by cyber threats due to an increase in digital banking were to blame.
One of the key aspects of the Asian Financial Forum is the prime opportunity for networking. While it was held virtually due to the pandemic, 718 meetings between project owners and investors were arranged through online sessions.
The leading finance forum explored a number of dialogues including the Internet of Things, digital technology, health tech, fintech, environment and energy, food and agriculture, education, infrastructure and real estate services, as well as next-generation business ideas, which will ultimately help industry investment opportunities across the globe.