There’s now evidence to suggest that the political crisis in Hong Kong may be having an impact on capital flows. Bloomberg, as well as others, reported today that wealth managers in Asia have been receiving a heightened number of requests to transfer assets out of the country — to places like Singapore — and to setup new overseas bank accounts so that they can be ready to transfer, should the situation gets worse.
In fact, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) even asked the country’s financial institutions not to prey on the wealthy in Hong Kong during this period of uncertainty. They want to avoid the perception that Singapore is trying to capitalize on the situation. Of course, it remains to be seen how much all of this is here-say and how much of it will actually translate into a meaningful transfer of wealth.
Hong Kong has a significantly larger private wealth base, with about 853 individuals worth more than $100 million. This is more than double the number in Singapore (figure from Credit Suisse). But the current demonstrations have people questioning what will happen to Hong Kong in 2047 when the constitutional article committing Hong Kong to a capitalist way of life is set to expire.
The flows of capital can be fickle.