Expat bankers in Hong Kong mourn the old days

Published:  28 Oct at 6 PM
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Tagged: Visas, Hong Kong, Banking
The ‘good old days’ of Hong Kong’s expat banking community are now long gone, with conspicuous consumption and extravagant lifestyles being replaced by discretion and lower spending.

In the days before the 2008 financial crisis, Hong Kong was the dream relocation for a huge number of expat bankers, all gifted with packages covering everything from luxury housing through kids’ schooling and expense account entertainment. Salaries and generous bonuses were lavished on the city’s upscale nightlife, riotous parties and every available luxury.

Nowadays, it’s very different, with former high flyers humbled by market fluctuations and new banking compliance rules now realising excessive spending is considered bad form and may lead to trouble at work. Formerly, comparative newcomers to the trade were pushed into managerial positions, and specialists were joyfully unloading high-margin products onto unsophisticated investors in order to benefit from massive commissions ands bonuses.

Banking professionals still working in Hong Kong recount that previous excessive behaviour patterns within the city’s financial community were cut short by the 2008 crash, and haven’t recovered to date. With the number of financial professionals employed declining along with bonuses, it’s now difficult to justify entertaining clients on expenses, and no-one wants to risk their job by living the high life in public.

With the trial of ex Merrill Lynch British banker Rurik Jutting now ongoing in Hong Kong, conspicuous consumption by banking professionals is being seen as even more unacceptable. Jutting is accused of raping, torturing and murdering two Indonesian women in his apartment whilst high on cocaine. Whilst it’s obvious Jutting’s appalling crimes are not representative of the city’s present-day banking community, it’s a warning of what can go wrong in an environment in which everything is permitted.
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