Nurturing Wealth: HSBC is helping Asia’s elite preserve and grow their wealth

In February 2020, HSBC announced the combination of its highly regarded Private Banking business with the high-tech capabilities and global network of its Retail Banking and Wealth Management business. We dive into why this strategy will bring the best of HSBC to Asia and the world.

In these challenging and uncertain times, never has it been more critical for the world’s affluent individuals, families and business leaders to ensure their hard-earned wealth is truly secure while evolving at a pace to support their future needs and growing aspirations. Though the challenge may seem daunting, the right wealth partner can make a world of difference. With its global footprint, expanded wealth management capabilities, and expertise in insurance, asset management, global markets and wealth planning and advisory, HSBC’s holistic, broad range of services strongly positions them to help clients across the wealth spectrum – from first-time savers to ultra-high net worth families and businesses – achieve their goals and ambitions.

The new global Wealth & Personal Banking business manages a staggering US$1.4 trillion in wealth balances, half of which are based in Asia, where they are among the top three global wealth managers. Under its purview, Greg Hingston, Regional Head of HSBC Wealth & Personal Banking, Asia-Pacific, and Siew Meng Tan, Regional Head of HSBC Private Banking, Asia-Pacific, hope to support the region’s prosperous entrepreneurs and families harness the power of their wealth, be it through succession planning, structuring an international asset portfolio or creating a lasting, sustainable legacy.

HSBC's Greg Hingston and Siew Meng Tan

Success through Global Connectivity

Over the course of its 155-year history, HSBC has emerged as a truly international bank, one with a significant global footprint and cross-business connectivity that it hopes to leverage to attract the burgeoning population of HNW and UHNW individuals in Asia.

For many within this affluent segment, their lives and businesses have grown beyond home borders. Take, for instance, a Hong Kong-based family whose business stretches across Asia-Pacific, and whose children could be studying abroad as far afield as the US or UK. Here, HSBC’s unparalleled global network could deliver commercial banking and investment banking services for their business operations in India, ASEAN or mainland China. Their children, meanwhile, could avail themselves of international banking support, with the family’s overarching complex wealth management needs capably met by HSBC Private Banking in Hong Kong or other global hubs like Singapore.

This is just a taste of the seamless efficiency and connectivity afforded by HSBC’s new Wealth & Personal Banking business. As Tan explains, “The way we can actually support a client across their myriad personal and business needs is unique compared to other players, particularly when you add our retail and transactional banking services as well. By banking with us, our clients can avail themselves of different products across our organisational spectrum.”

Greg Hingston, Regional Head of HSBC Wealth & Personal Banking, Asia-Pacific
Greg Hingston, Regional Head of HSBC Wealth & Personal Banking, Asia-Pacific

Planning for the Future

With over seven decades of experience in wealth planning, HSBC Private Banking is uniquely placed to help forward-thinking families with wealth transfer structures. Says Tan: “Traditionally, Asian families are quite superstitious when it comes to succession planning, but with

COVID-19 looming large on everyone’s mind, it’s no surprise that they are now seriously considering how best to protect their wealth for the future. We help these families to put trust structures in place that can smoothly transition from one generation to the next to create a lasting legacy.”

“They’re also making sure that they can diversify between different types of assets and locations, splitting their portfolio between international wealth hubs like Hong Kong, Singapore, New York, London and even Switzerland.”

Alongside asset and geographical diversification, new generations of entrepreneurial families are increasingly keen on branching out to new areas and enterprises. This, in turn, has led to an increase in impact investing and Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) initiatives spearheaded by them to utilise wealth to create a strong positive impact on the wider community.

Siew Meng Tan, Regional Head of HSBC Private Banking, Asia-Pacific
Siew Meng Tan, Regional Head of HSBC Private Banking, Asia-Pacific

Bespoke Solutions for Unique Needs

Servicing clients across the wealth spectrum, HSBC is aware of how wide-ranging and multifaceted their needs can be. “The goals of someone with a net worth of US$1 million looks very different from one who has over US$30 million in assets,” says Hingston, “We want to build a far more integrated model that seamlessly allows them to transition through the wealth continuum at HSBC as their needs evolve.”

HSBC’s expansive reach across customer segments based on trusted long-term relationships enables the bank to support clients as their needs change across their wealth journeys – from serving the first mortgage of a Premier customer to their international investment needs when they move to become a Jade customer and then the myriad of more complex and intergenerational requirements of HNW and UHNW clients in Private Banking.

At the top of the pyramid, though, personalisation is the name of the game, particularly as HNW clients and UHNW business owners need increasingly sophisticated and tailored solutions to manage their more complex wealth needs. To meet this demand, HSBC is accelerating investments in technology such as AI-driven data analytics and digitised wealth platforms to deliver a distinctive experience alongside the expertise of its relationship managers and investment specialists.

As the world grows more complex, affluent families and entrepreneurs are realising the inherent need for a trusted partner to help navigate ever-evolving wealth scenarios. With HSBC, they can be reassured of a knowledgeable ally who is not only backed by an extensive global network, but is dedicated to creating innovative solutions to both preserve and grow their wealth for a sustainable future.

The information contained in this article has not been reviewed in the light of your individual circumstances and is for information purposes only. It does not purport to provide legal, taxation or other advice and should not be taken as such. No client or other reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of the content of this article without seeking specific professional advice.

Issued by The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited and HSBC Trustee (Hong Kong) Limited.

HSBC Private Banking: The one-stop solutions provider for Ultra High Net Worth individuals

Jackie Mau, HSBC Private Banking’s newly-minted Regional Head of UHNW for Asia Pacific, is undeniably uniquely positioned to spearhead the bank’s new agenda to court the wealthiest individuals across the region. After all, not only has the 16-year HSBC veteran been on the front lines of the bank’s Bangkok, China and Hong Kong offices, he most recently spent 18 months as Co- Head of Investment Services and Product Solutions (ISPS), where he was one of the driving forces behind building the capabilities of the Investment Counselling and Product Specialist teams.

Since his shift to Private Banking four years ago, Mau has been in charge of its investment business, managing some of the most complex asset portfolios for the region’s richest magnates. Through this experience, he has a solid understanding of the needs of UHNW individuals, and how they have transformed. “UHNW clients are no longer looking solely for traditional private banking offerings, nor are they targeting the cheapest, most competitive prices,” explains Mau, “It’s more about finding the right thought leadership and enabling them to deal with different stages of their wealth life cycle.”

These are challenges that he’s more than willing to tackle as he takes up his new role. “Ultra High Net Worth is a very exciting segment of private banking. UHNW wealth is expected to rise to US$43 trillion in the next five years globally, with Asia as one of the fastest growing regions. Having the opportunity to work for HSBC in different countries and lines of business, there are several focal strengths that I aspire to bring to these UHNW families.”


The Next Generation and Succession Planning

Given HSBC’s 154-year legacy of partnering with generations of the world’s most successful families, it boasts a distinct expertise in succession planning. “Succession planning is often a sensitive topic to discuss,” says Mau, “one that is layered with nuances and challenges. Depending on the situation, we not only provide solutions, but also partner with them to create an inheritance structure and a much more sustainable framework for their estate.”

“But it’s more than just about succession. There’s a growing trend for the next generation – usually overseas-educated and much more independent – to succeed and inherit family businesses at a much younger age. In these instances, not only do we offer a platform for them to learn what services we can provide them with, but we also create a forum to help them connect to other business leaders, entrepreneurs and start-ups should they wish to explore new avenues beyond their family business.”

 Thought Leadership

Beyond the multi-needs services that HSBC Private Banking provides, it also emphasises thought leadership, providing clients with forward-thinking ideas and innovative means to fulfill their personal and family wealth ambitions, as well as making positive changes in the community that they serve.

“Thought leadership is important for our clients. For example, take sustainability. Recently, we just invited some clients to visit our long-running flagship Next Generation Sustainability Leadership Programme in Borneo. Bringing them for that hands-on experience in the rainforest to learn more about the impact of climate change and sustainable practices, and allowing them to come home full of actionable ideas on how they can integrate sustainability into their family business and everyday life has a much greater impact than just hosting seminars, talks and the like, and really galvanises them into action,” explains Mau.

Connectivity through a Universal Banking Model

Ultimately, Mau hopes to mobilise the different lines of business within HSBC as well as its connected international presence to woo the world’s successful families. “We pride ourselves on our global network. HSBC’s one-bank, universal banking model is unique in the market, one that can give you access to commercial banking, investment banking and retail banking to serve the needs beyond wealth management. Be it the case where your daughter is moving to the UK, or setting up a foundation for philanthropy in Asia, or acquiring a business in France, we will be there to help UHNW clients every step of the way,” he explains.

To meet the international multi – needs of UHNW families, HSBC Private Banking has created two new teams – UHNW Solutions and UHNW Segment Management – to help provide much more bespoke, customised solutions and grant institutional access for Private Banking clients, presenting an unparalleled all-in one solutions package.

“Our strength really lies in our connectivity. We cover clients with a very wide range of backgrounds, even in the entrepreneur stage, and in various sectors across different regions. Our job is to connect them. We can step up to be the bridge when they’re seeking something outside their sphere of influence. Somehow, somewhere, there will always be opportunities, and we will be there every step of the way to ensure their needs are met with the all resources at HSBC Private Banking’s disposal.”

PS: The information contained in this article has not been reviewed in the light of your individual circumstances and is for information purposes only. It does not purport to provide legal, taxation or other advice and should not be taken as such. No client or other reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of the content of this article without seeking specific professional advice.

Cisco Cognitive Collaboration the Game Changer for Online Meetings


Have you ever felt that virtual meetings can be a bit bewildering? What with connecting to a call, adding people on it, figuring out who’s talking when, it can be all quite distracting.
But now, all that’s about to change, as AI has the power to make our meetings more efficient, productive and pleasant. This new era of teamwork is called cognitive collaboration. It’s the application of AI and machine learning to add contextual intelligence to the entire collaboration experience.


For example,
• Before the meeting, a zero-touch digital assistant helps do the mundane tasks like joining the meeting, calling colleagues and adding people to your call.
• During the meeting, detailed information about participants’ work history, blog posts, company and links to social media accounts are available directly in your meeting, so you don’t have to search to learn more about your meeting participants. Also, the facial recognition lets you put a face to a name, so when there are multiple participants in a conference call, you can easily identify the people on screen.
• After the meeting, transcripts of your meeting are available, so you can search for action items or quickly catch up on what you missed in a meeting.


So how is all these made possible? The before-, during- and after-scenarios described here are all part of what Cisco’s latest solution Webex offers. You can learn more about cognitive collaboration on

With the introduction of AI, technology decisions can no longer be based on creating particular solutions for particular problems. Instead, AI has its own ecosystem of solutions where investing in a strategic platform will fundamentally change the way people work together, connect together and innovate together. It’s all part of being a connected world.

Learn more about Cisco Cognitive Collaboration here.

Liechtenstein at 300: How the tiny European state became a global economic power

The Principality of Liechtenstein, nestled between Switzerland and Austria, is Europe’s fourth-smallest state, but it has managed to become one of the richest nations in the world.  Celebrating its 300th anniversary this year, Liechtenstein occupies an area of only 160 sq km and has a population of 38,000 people, yet it has an impressive GDP per capita that is more than double that of the United States.


The Princely Family of Liechtenstein, which reigns over the country, is one of the oldest noble houses in Europe. Having acquired the territory which would become Liechtenstein in 1719, the Princely Family has continuously presided over the country into modern times.

LGT Liechtenstein turns 300

Today, the Principality of Liechtenstein is a constitutional monarchy and, in addition to heading the country, the Princely Family pursues a wide range of interests, from owning the world’s largest private collection of major European artworks to wine production at its own vineyards.

Over the course of its 300-year history, Liechtenstein has transformed into a leading player on the global economic stage, standing out as one of only five debt-free states around the globe today. Despite its small size, the country’s focus on exports has made it an innovation hub, offering the perfect environment for creative ideas and entrepreneurial spirit.

LGT Jan Coelenbier, detail from “A castle on the waterfront,” c. 1620 © LIECHTENSTEIN. The Princely Collections, Vaduz-Vienna
Jan Coelenbier, detail from “A castle on the waterfront,” c. 1620 © LIECHTENSTEIN. The Princely Collections, Vaduz-Vienna

As the Principality of Liechtenstein celebrates its 300th anniversary year in jubilee, it is a timely moment to look back in admiration over its three solid centuries of rich cultural heritage and financial stability, as the nation warmly invites visitors to discover and explore its history and stunning natural scenery in person.

LGT - Vaduz Castle, the palace of the Prince of Liechtenstein
Vaduz Castle, the palace of the Prince of Liechtenstein

Although Liechtenstein may be associated with its strengths in manufacturing, an attractive alpine climate, and collectable postage stamps, it is in the world of finance that the Principality truly shines. Known for its outstanding stability and security, the country’s financial system is a foundation for Liechtenstein’s success, attracting institutions with its professional, resourceful and business-friendly characteristics.

One secret behind the country’s financial acumen is the indomitable foresight and guidance of its hereditary rulers. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the success of LGT Group, the family office of the Princely House of Liechtenstein and the largest global Private Banking and Asset Management group to be owned by an entrepreneurial family.

H.S.H. Prince Max von und zu Liechtenstein, CEO LGT
H.S.H. Prince Max von und zu Liechtenstein, CEO LGT

Established in 1930, LGT takes inspiration from the Princely House, and its 30 generations of experience. Today, the bank remains very much a family-run enterprise, with Prince Philipp, younger brother of Prince Hans-Adam II, the nation’s ruler,   currently its Chairman, and Prince Max, Prince Hans-Adam’s son, its CEO. The Princely Family’s ownership ensures that traditional values and virtues such as reliability, respect and integrity are firmly embedded in LGT’s corporate culture.

LGT Friedrich von Amerling, Portrait of Princess Marie Franziska von Liechtenstein (1834-1909) at the age of two (1836)
Friedrich von Amerling, “Portrait of Princess Marie Franziska von Liechtenstein (1834-1909) at the age of two,” 1836 © LIECHTENSTEIN. The Princely Collections, Vaduz-Vienna

As a testament to its success, LGT Group has grown from a small presence in Liechtenstein to 20 locations worldwide.  LGT Private Banking, the private wealth management arm of LGT Group, adheres to traditional values while providing bespoke and innovative investment advice and wealth planning solutions to high and ultra-high net worth clients around the world.

LGT Peter Paul Rubens, “Portrait of Clara Serena Rubens,” c. 1616 © LIECHTENSTEIN. The Princely Collections, Vaduz-Vienna
Peter Paul Rubens, “Portrait of Clara Serena Rubens,” c. 1616 © LIECHTENSTEIN. The Princely Collections, Vaduz-Vienna

With respect to Asia, LGT opened a small representative office in Hong Kong in 1986. Today, it has over 800 Asia based employees, with offices in Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok and full booking platforms in Hong Kong and Singapore. In 2018, LGT was ranked among the Top 10 private banks in Asia, in the Asian Private Banker League Table. LGT’s evolution in Asia, like the history of Liechtenstein, is rooted in principles such as a long term commitment, vision and innovation – values worth sharing, 300 years ago, now, and for many more anniversaries to come.

Scarlett Johansson: What’s next for the Black Widow post-Avengers: Endgame?

Even well before Avengers: Endgame burst into cinemas across the world at the tail end of April, there was no doubt that this was going to be something of a game changer. After all, this was to be Marvel’s magnum opus, the epic conclusion to the staggering 22-movie-long narrative that had been the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) Infinity Saga. And, indeed, over just its opening weekend, the three-hour film’s total takings were said to be an eye-popping US$1.2 billion, the highest first-two-days figure for any movie ever.

What's next for Scarlett Johansson

While Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man and Chris Evans’ Captain America may have been central to this success, an equally important element of its appeal is none other than Black Widow, portrayed to perfection by Scarlett Johansson ever since the character first high-kicked her way into the MCU in 2010’s Iron Man 2. Across the near-decade since then, Johansson’s stock has risen, if anything, faster and further than The Avengers, which is now very much the Marvel mothership. Indeed, last year, Johansson’s take-home pay was a very tidy US$40.5 million, making her the world’s highest-paid actress and bringing with it the acknowledgement that she now truly is among the pantheon of all-time greats.

Scarlett Johansson came to fame as Black Widow

Her current mega-success, though, is a far cry from her eminently humble beginnings. The Black Widow-to-be was born in a low-income household in New York on 22 November 1984, the daughter – and child three of four – of Karsten Olaf Johansson, a Dutch architect, and his wife, Melanie Sloan, a producer. Showing a precocious interest in acting, Johansson made her professional debut in a 1993 Late Night with Conan O’Brien comedy sketch when she was just eight years old. Her first stage appearance – in Sophistry, an off- Broadway play, which saw her star opposite Ethan “Training Day” Hawke – followed soon after. She was then cast in one of the title roles of Mannie & Lo, a 1996 dramedy telling the tale of two down-on-their-luck sisters.

It was in 2003, though, that Johansson finally landed the two roles that transformed her fortunes – Griet in The Girl with a Pearl Earring, and Charlotte in Lost in Translation, a critically-acclaimed 2003 romantic dramedy. The latter, it seems, was a role she was born to play, with this bittersweet May-December romance opening to near-universal acclaim, while also securing ScarJo – as she has been unwillingly christened by fans – a much-coveted Golden Globe nomination, as well as the Best Actress accolade at that year’s BAFTAs.

Scarlett Johansson is the world's highest-paid actress

This acclaim set her on course for a slew of big-budget starring roles, including Michael Bay’s sci-fi thriller The Island (2005) and Woody Allen’s psychological drama Match Point (2005), as well as such rom-coms as 2007’s The Nanny Diaries, co-starring Chris Evans, the future Captain America.

It was in 2010, though, that she truly entered the big league. Not only did she receive a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Feature Actress in a Play for A View from the Bridge, her Broadway debut, she also won the role that saw her permanently seared into pop culture consciousness – Black Widow, Marvel’s enigmatic assassiness.

Scarlett Johansson at the premiere of Ghost in the Shell

Her take on the former Russian spy-turned-superheroine saw her career go – largely – from strength to strength. There were, however, one or two missteps along the way, most notably her appearance in Ghost in the Shell, a 2017 adaptation of a Japanese manga series. The entire production proved highly controversial, largely on account of its almost all-Caucasian cast, with many of them playing roles that were originally written as Asian characters. This, said many, was Hollywood “whitewashing” at its very worst.

Her personal life, meanwhile, has also been subject to several ups and downs. Most notably, after a series of high-profile romances, in 2008, she married Ryan “Deadpool” Reynolds, a union that ended in divorce just two years later. She married again in 2014, this time to Romain Dauriac, a French journalist, with whom she has a daughter, Rose Dorothy Dauriac. Three years later, she was once again single.

Scarlett Johansson with fiance Colin Jost

Reflecting on these painful experiences, she mused: “While I think the idea of marriage is very romantic – it’s a beautiful idea and it can be a beautiful thing – I don’t think it’s natural to be monogamous.” Judging by her recent engagement to actor Colin Jost, though, she’s clearly had a change of heart.

Romantic entanglements aside, there is one particular role that she has already confirmed and which has the world even more intrigued – the return of the Black Widow. Those few of you yet to see Endgame should look away now as a key plot point is about to be discussed.

Scarlett Johansson in First Man

Given that Natasha Romanov – what the Black Widow calls herself while her lycra is at the dry cleaners – sacrifices herself in the battle to de-Thanos the known universe, how come her debut solo movie has been confirmed as part of Marvel’s Phase IV slate? Sequel, prequel or timey-wimey trickery? Whatever the score, we’ll be there, alongside countless other millions. Don’t forget the popcorn.

Text: Tenzing Thondup
Images: AFP

Safeguard your family’s future the right way with HSBC

Alan Beattie, Global Head of Private Wealth Solutions at HSBC Private Banking on protecting your family wealth, ensuring seamless family business succession and creating a sustainable legacy for the next generation.

Alan Beattie, Global Head of Private Wealth Solutions at HSBC
Alan Beattie, Global Head of Private Wealth Solutions at HSBC Private Banking

The future is unpredictable. From economic upheavals and political turmoil to unexpected personal issues, there are a significant number of factors that could adversely affect your wealth and business security and threaten your family’s stability. Even without potential disasters like these, family business succession and wealth transfer is a delicate and complex affair at the best of times. Private Wealth Solutions at HSBC Private Banking is dedicated to helping ease that burden clients may face by equipping them with a lasting governance framework and succession structure to ensure their loved ones are well-protected for generations to come.

Private Wealth Solutions’ legacy of helping wealthy individuals and family businesses successfully navigate the world of wealth planning and protection spans over seven decades. Today, Alan Beattie and his team of Private Wealth Solutions experts specialise in offering an expansive array of services to help successful families ensure their assets and legacy remain safely secure in the long run. Below, he spotlights the most critical factors to building a sustainable future.

Alan Beattie of HSBC says getting the next generation involved early will help secure your family's wealth

It’s never too soon to start planning for the future

Very often, wealthy individuals only begin wealth planning fairly late in life when it becomes paramount to set measures in place for when they retire. It’s rather common to see successful people being slightly reticent to hand over the reigns and control to someone else; even to family members. However, the best way to ensure stability is to get started with wealth protection even as its creation is underway. This allows more time to properly set a ‘road map’ in place, as well as to allow the next generation to be trained in readiness to take over when the time comes.

Early involvement and education of the next generation

It is vital to get the next generations of family members involved in assuming responsibilities and in the operation of the family wealth as early as possible. Not only will their future roles and goals have a huge impact on the business in the future, by involving them early in the discussion and management of the family affairs, they can find their roles and ways in which they can contribute to the overall estate. When they are personally involved with running the family business, not only will it help to ensure smooth operations but it will also foster stability for any potential succession event. As an example, one of our hugely successful clients recently shared that not only did he have his family members playing key roles at every level of his family business, but that he complemented that presence with other external professionals that pushed them to remain competitive and in touch with the outside world. It is precisely this type of forward-thinking that helps build a sustainable future for any family business.

Map your future and protect your family's wealth with Alan Beattie's team of Private Wealth Solutions experts at HSBC

Stay true to your core values

All too often, the direction and drive of the business can collapse without the guiding hand of the original wealth creator at the helm – so much so that all assets may disappear within their children’s lifetime. The problem, known as the ‘Three-Generation Trap’, is a common occurrence. To circumvent this, alongside fostering meaningful roles and responsibilities for all family members, it becomes hugely important to put in place, or at least understand, the core values of the family, and establish a specific vision of the future – a legacy– by which any business succession scheme is run. This sort of mission statement not only preserves the original entrepreneurial spirit of the wealth creator, it can offer guidance and ensure unsound business ventures or overcommitted resources are avoided.

Have a plan, start early, stay true to your core values, says Alan Beattie of HSBC

Establish a formal structure

Any family or business is an evolving entity. What works now may not be effective in the future. To protect and enhance family wealth in a sustainable fashion, creating a formal financial structure like as trusts is paramount for long-term success. Private Wealth Solutions at HSBC Private Banking has decades of experience in precisely this field, acting as a trusted independent party that can oversee the multi-faceted aspects of protecting and enhancing family wealth.

From managing trusts and setting up and administering charitable organisations, to family governance, our mission is to help you safeguard the wealth of families, and to grow it, for generations to come. With HSBC, you can be rest assured that your legacy, and more importantly your family, are in capable hands.


DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article has not been reviewed in the light of your individual circumstances and is for information purposes only. It does not purport to provide legal, taxation or other advice and should not be taken as such. No client or other reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of the content of this article without seeking specific professional advice.

Issued by The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited and HSBC Trustee (Hong Kong) Limited.

2019 digital trend predictions for businesses: How many have you implemented already?

With 2019 just a few days away, is your business ahead of the curve when it comes to digital trend predictions for the next year? Check out our top picks from next year’s digital trends to give your business an edge over your competitors.

digital trend

Artificial Intelligence

With more than 60% of businesses implementing Artificial Intelligence in the last two years (as per Narrative Science reports), AI will continue to be one of the strongest digital trends in 2019 and is predicted to be even more all-pervasive, thanks to ongoing technology improvements.

digital trend

Influencer Marketing

Social media influencers will continue to sway market trends in 2019, with advertising spend on influencer marketing poised to grow up to US$10 billion by 2022, according to the Business Insider Influencer Marketing Report. This is especially true for advertisers who want to target younger audiences.

digital trend

Video Content

According to Tubular Insights, by 2019, 80% of online content will be in the visual form. So while content remains king, it’s safe to say that much of its reign will be dictated by how good it looks visually.

Voice Search

An estimate by Klick, a healthcare, business and workplace solutions conglomerate, predicts that, by 2020, one-third of all Internet search will be done without touch and 50% of these will be through voice. In keeping with this upcoming digital trend, advertisers would have to tweak their keyword optimisation to make it voice-friendly.

digital trend

Visual Recognition

Besides voice, visual search will increase in 2019. With users being able to upload an image of the product they are looking for, the whole search option becomes even more interactive and engaging.  Google, Amazon and Pinterest are just a few of the big names that are already cashing on in this new digital trend.

digital trend


Yet another digital trend to watch out for is the rise of chatbots, the AI-powered assistants the help conversational commerce for websites and mobile apps. A recent study by Oracle has predicted that 80% of businesses are already using chatbots or are planning to use them by 2020.

Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality

As users get more and more accustomed to enhanced multisensory experiences, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality become a must-have for businesses. According to Statista, the VR and AR market is worth US$27 billion and expected to reach US$209.2 billion in only four years.

Honkers or Singers? Which Asian megacity is more appealing to foreign businesses?

AI company ImageDeep was the latest to open its Asia-Pacific office in Hong Kong, citing the city’s strategic global position and involvement in the Greater Bay initiative as its reasons for expanding into the 852. The decision came as a surprise to some, as while there is a long history of financial firms expanding into Hong Kong, tech companies have increasingly been reaching for Singapore instead. ImageDeep’s move has thrown up the age old debate: Hong Kong vs Singapore, which of these two Asian mega-cities has the edge for modern businesses?

Hong Kong vs Singapore

Fairs fair, both are extremely attractive to western businesses and remain the two most popular options for Western businesses wanting to get a piece of the ever-growing Asian market. Both being port towns Hong Kong and Singapore already have a great geographical advantage and their international airports, tap into a vast yet quickly navigated network of nearby countries and educated multilingual workforce mean businesses are spoilt for choice when it comes to hiring time. The government allows foreigners to own all of their shares, there is no mandate to have a native director on the company’s board and taxes are low with multiple exemptions available.

Hong Kong vs Singapore

Hong Kong’s well-founded history of financial success, far reaching travel links and low low tax rates have been attractive to overseas entrepreneurs for decades. Singapore has easier access to the growing Indian and Sri Lankan markets and boast their super clean streets, mega high living standards and highly engineered public transport system as an absolute win over Hong Kong, where pollution has long been a problem. But what Singapore sees as its greatest strength might just be its downfall when it comes to incoming Westerners. Many expats living in Hong Kong revel in the varied landscape and diversity in people and they think Singapore a little bit too homogenised. While the two can boast strong legal systems which protect the business interests of foreign business owners a few think the Singaporean system might be a little too eager. Hong Kong’s procedures might take a little longer but it’s generally agreed that this is in the interest of making sure everything is done in the most just manner possible.

Hong Kong vs Singapore

For the sake of diplomacy we’ll continue to call it a toss-up. For some Singapore’s spotless streets are utter paradise and for others the rolling mountains and gleaming spires of Hong Kong spell an irresistible adventure.

Text: Alice Duncan

5 Ways to Protect Your Business from Hackers

In the 1830s Napoleon Bonaparte commissioned the Chappe’s telegraph network, a colossal chain of mechanical arms stretching across France and into Germany and Italy to be used solely for transmitting top secret military information using a form of semaphore. The network had only been in use for a year before brothers Francois and Louis Blanc bribed the system operators to transmit stock market information from Paris to Bordeaux where they lived ahead of other traders. This represented a major turning point in human civilisation. It’s was the world’s first hack. The moment where technology was, for the first time, manipulated by nefarious outside influences for their own gain.

Hacking has come a long way since then, but has never stopped presenting a threat to businesses. It’s no longer enough to simply set up a firewall and add a couple of numbers to your password. Data protection needs to be active and it needs to be uniform across an entire business. Gafencu looks at the five behaviours and techniques most recommended by security specialists to avoid cyber attacks.


Stay up to date

This not only means keeping your software current and changing your passwords often but also staying abreast of new ways hackers are using to infiltrate data networks. “White hat hackers” find and repair any gaps, which could leave you and your business vulnerable, before malevolent hackers can. Password management company SplashData releases an annual list of the worst passwords to have. Check and make sure yours isn’t one of them.

Limit access

It’s inadvisable to have your entire bank of data available to everyone in the company. Trainees and third-party maintenance operatives in particular should be restricted from accessing sensitive data or networks.

Educate your staff…

Hackers are increasingly preying on “low status” employees such as receptionists, secretaries and interns – essentially, people the boss may not be thinking about but who do have the power to, however accidentally, open you up to more serious threats. Make sure the all staff have an understanding of how to keep themselves and the company secure, especially if they deal with emails. 91% of advanced cyber attacks begin with opening a phishing email.


…and your children

As well as lower level staff nefarious hackers are also looking to the children of wealthy business owners as a weak point in their security, particularly if they use social media. Ensure that your children understand how to use social media safely and not to publicly associate themselves with your business.


Make a back-up plan

Sometimes the unthinkable happens. Knowing how to recognise a cyber attack and what to do afterwards can  make all the difference. Look out for unauthorised transactions, unwanted toolbars suddenly appearing in your browser or friends on social media receiving messages you didn’t send. Be aware that in many cases closing a browser window or clicking ‘cancel’ after opening a malware link does not do anything to stop the attack. Most importantly ensure that your data is regularly and safely backed up meaning it can be recovered if the worst should happen.

Text by: Alice Duncan

Risk vs Reward: Navigating the risky world of cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin was the first big cryptocurrency

There are few areas of finance at the moment that are generating as much hype as cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin is the most popular, but it also fields its fair share of criticism. Earlier this year, Jamie Dimon, chief executive and chairman of JP Morgan, called it a scam and announced he’d fire any employee caught trading the digital currency.

To crypto-enthusiasts, this seemed to signal that the old world of finance is feeling threatened by the new. And from an investment perspective, they have a point.

As of December, the price of one bitcoin crossed the US$11,000 (HK$90,552) threshold. Compare that to the start of this year, when a bitcoin was worth less than US$1,000. Looking further back, for a lot of 2010 its value fluctuated between six and seven cents. Prescient people who bought bitcoin back in 2010 and held them until now would have seen their investment grow by 10 million per cent. Not a return to be sniffed at.

How to choose between different cryptocurrencies

Ether, the second most popular cryptocurrency, looks like it is at an earlier stage of the same process. After its creation in 2014, the price saw little growth for a couple of years, and one ether was worth less than US$1 at the start of 2016. It rose, however, and in December 2017 the price floated around the US$460 mark. Again, solid returns for the early enthusiasts.

Looking beyond the big two, things get a little more complicated. There are now thousands of cryptocurrencies. Some – Ripple, for example – have been around for a while, but more are arriving. Genesis Block, a crypto exchange in Hong Kong, now allows traders to buy and sell over a thousand different cryptocurrencies over the counter. Since there are only about 180 traditional currencies in the world, some of which are barely traded, life for the normal investor in the crypto world is not going to be easy.

Another exchange in Hong Kong, OKex, will soon launch trading in bitcoin derivatives, with plans to offer derivatives of other cryptocurrencies in the future. If you fancy speculating on what the price of an ether will be in six months’ time, there’s the place to do it.  

Picking the right cryptocurrency may yield large returns

With the crypto ecosystem clearly growing, how should a normal investor take advantage of it? At their simplest, cryptocurrencies are digital tokens underscored by distributed ledger technology, or blockchain. Whatever happens to cryptocurrencies, blockchain is going to be part of the future. It is turning up in everything from the world of financial services to shopping. Over on the mainland, US retail giant Walmart is experimenting with blockchain technology to track its produce.

In some ways, blockchain could be seen as many giant excel spreadsheets, linked in such a way that if one is updated, all the others are simultaneously updated. In the age of pre-blockchain internet, one of the problems that prevented a digital currency takeover was figuring out whether an asset was the original or a duplicate. If you can copy your digital token and pay two different people with the same coin, it doesn’t work. Blockchain technology has changed that, and alas, bitcoin was born.

Blockchain technology caused the rise of cryptocurrencies

While many of the new tokens use the bitcoin blockchain to operate, others use the Ethereum blockchain, which underscores ether. Yet many fall into neither camp and are off doing their own weird thing.  

Investors are advised to stick to cryptocurrencies that use an established blockchain. There are already enough variables to worry about when investing in crypto without throwing another into the mix.

If you understand what a token is used for and why, and it seems sensible, then maybe it’s worth a punt. If you really like an idea and want to get in on the action from the start, then a token sale, or ICO (initial coin offering), allows you to do just that.

Investing in cryptocurrencies are risky but rewarding

Developers looking to create a project using cryptocurrencies hold a token sale to raise funds and distribute their tokens. They don’t normally cost a lot to invest in, and they may even offer high returns.

Many are getting excited. So far, nearly US$2.3 billion has been raised in ICOs, mostly in the first half of 2017. Be careful, though – even experts in the crypto world are exercising caution. “There are so many ways to scam people with an ICO,” Leonhard Weese, president of the Hong Kong Bitcoin Association, told the South China Morning Post.

“Investors beautifully admit that most of these start-ups will fail, so all you need to do is raise a few million, appear busy on social media for a few years and then say you ran out of money and blame it on competition, developers or bitcoin. Alternatively, you could ‘hack yourself’ and retire immediately.”

Text: Emrys Gould