Singapore is gaining popularity amongst wealthy Chinese investors because of its world-class health facilities and international schools, while Mandarin is among its four official languages.
While Hong Kong continues to be the primary destination for China’s offshore money, more Chinese high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) are looking at Singapore as a safe haven to park their wealth.
This comes as Chinese HNWIs feel exposed by Hong Kong’s changing banking practices, reported Bloomberg.
Hong Kong has entered into tax transparency agreements which requires banks to report their account holder’s information to Hong Kong officials, which in turn makes the information available to 75 jurisdictions, including mainland China.
While Singapore also has similar agreements with 61 jurisdictions, it does not include either Beijing or Hong Kong, which means the Chinese government has no access to their account holders.
“Many rich people from the mainland believe Hong Kong is still a part of China, after all,” said Xia Chun, chief research officer at Noah Holdings Ltd. of Hong Kong, an asset management service provider. “They think there’s no difference in putting money in Hong Kong, compared to Beijing.”
With this, the number of Chinese HNWIs who consider Hong Kong as their preferred overseas destination for investment fell to 53 percent from 71 percent in 2016, revealed a Bain & Co. survey. Over 20 percent prefer Singapore, an increase from 15 percent in 2016.
“Singapore is the Zurich of the East,” said Xiao Xiao, chief operating officer of Chinese wealth manager Fortunes Capital.
“We see Singapore, not Hong Kong, as the bridgehead of China’s investment overseas,” noted Li Qinghao, co-founder of NewBanker Tech Consulting.
Singapore offers other attractions for Chinese HNWIs. The city-state has world-class health facilities and international schools, while Mandarin is among its four official languages.
And with real estate far cheaper than in Hong Kong, mainland Chinese emerged as the biggest foreign buyers of luxury properties in Singapore in H1 2017, said Cushman & Wakefield.