Glory days over for Hong Kong expat banking and finance crowd

Published:  20 May at 6 PM
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The fat housing allowance packages gifted to top expat banking and finance executives in Hong Kong are becoming the thing of the past.

Long regarded and much envied as a golden privilege only offered to senior expat banking and finance executives, the massive housing allowances granted as a part of top-flight relocation packages are being slashed to sensible levels or, worse still, eliminated altogether. Luxury living on Hong’s exclusive Peak is being downsized to less prestigious locations and the luxury housing market is suffering as a result.

One of the Asian powerhouse’s boutique real estate agencies is seeing little or no interest in their designer dream homes complete with views to die for. MD Maureen Mills, of Executive Homes Hong Kong Ltd points out that clients on company leases who were formerly happy to spend HK$150,000 are now left with measly HK$80 - HK$100,000 cash allowances.

According to another agency, last year just 7 per cent of their Hong Kong clients were allocated monthly budgets of over HK$100,000, compared with 31 per cent four years ago. Nowadays, half of their clients have to make do with a monthly stipend of HK$30,000,just enough for 550 square feet in Central district. In addition, the number of finance and banking clients arriving with upscale corporate relocation packages has slumped by 50 per cent.

Downsizing is the name of the game nowadays, although many expats are happy to still have their jobs whilst major international finance and banking companies are slashing the expat workforce. Since the start of 2016, dozens of expatriate employees have been let go by financial giants BPN Paribas and Bank of America, with even Barclays PLC shedding hundreds of Hong Kong jobs.

How far the mighty may have fallen is one thing, but those still lucky enough to be employed in this amazing city are, even with the cuts, still living a lifestyle almost impossible to obtain for everyday citizens. Perhaps it’s rough justice that the great and possibly not so good expat inhabitants of Hong Kong’s traditional hi-so hotspot Victoria Peak are being forced to trim their financial sails, but they’re still top of the tree in a very luxuriant forest.
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