SW Hong Kong's Andy Wong: Technology, innovation key drivers for Hong Kong's resilience amidst global challenges

SW Hong Kong’s Andy Wong believes there are many opportunities for growth in Hong Kong’s business landscape, particularly in the fintech, green finance, and e-commerce sectors.

Amidst the evolving business landscape and the many challenges it faced in recent years, Hong Kong continues to have a resilient business landscape. Several sectors are expected to perform outstandingly moving forward, whilst others have to adapt their business models.

Andy Wong, who currently holds the positions of IPO leader and China and Hong Kong Business Leader at SW Hong Kong, has extensive knowledge of Hong Kong’s dynamic business environment.

Wong, who also serves as a member of the Risk Management Committee of ShineWing Group and SW Hong Kong, has an impressive 31-year track record in assurance and business advisory services. He possesses extensive experience in both international and Mainland China operations. Throughout his career, he has led numerous projects involving restructuring, business mergers and acquisitions, financial due diligence, as well as audits and initial public offerings (IPOs) of listed companies spanning diverse industries in Mainland China and Hong Kong.

Notably, Andy has played a pivotal role in assisting numerous Mainland China and Hong Kong enterprises toward successful listings on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX) in past ten years.

In a discussion with Hong Kong Business, Wong delved into his insights about Hong Kong’s business environment and the evolving landscape of the region’s economy.

He talked about industries that are becoming the city state’s key drivers of growth, the challenges they face in order to remain competitive, as well as the efforts they may implement and integrate into their business strategy to ensure sustainable and ESG-compliant practices.

Being the IPO leader of SW Hong Kong, how would you assess the performance of Hong Kong’s IPO markets since the beginning of the year? What can businesses expect for the rest of the year?

The Hong Kong IPO market has had a moderate start in the first half of 2023. Following an economic recovery after the pandemic, Hong Kong’s IPO market has remained resilient, with a total of 18 IPOs in the first quarter of 2023, raising about HKD 6.6 billion. Although the momentum of the HK IPO market is not as strong as in the past, which is the combined effect of many factors including interest rate hikes, geopolitical politics, regulatory scrutiny for potential IPO candidates from China, Russia-Ukraine war tensions, etc., the market has still been looking positive with the prudent but optimistic investor sentiment and a number of high-profile listings in pipeline, particularly in the technology and healthcare sectors. Also, as there are HK listing opportunities opening for specialist technology enterprises early this year, there may be two to three sizeable listings later this year in this regard. Looking ahead, it is expected that the positive momentum will continue throughout the rest of the year, with several large IPOs already in the pipeline.

What are your thoughts on the overall performance of the Hong Kong business landscape the past year? Are there any trends or opportunities worth noting?

The overall performance of the Hong Kong business landscape over the past year has been resilient despite a challenging global economic environment. Despite headwinds from the US-China trade war and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Hong Kong has remained an attractive destination for businesses looking to expand their operations in Asia. One notable trend has been the rise of technology and innovation-driven sectors, which have been key drivers of growth in the city. Other sectors, such as healthcare, logistics, and finance, have also performed well. Looking ahead, it is expected that there are still plenty of opportunities for businesses in Hong Kong, particularly in areas such as fintech, green finance, and e-commerce.

Amidst increasing demands in sustainability and ESG compliance, how will these considerations help Hong Kong businesses in their financial performance? What do you think are the main challenges that these organisations are facing now in this regard?

Sustainability and ESG compliance are increasingly important considerations for businesses in Hong Kong and around the world. In addition to ethical considerations, there is growing evidence that companies with strong ESG performance tend to outperform their peers over the long term. By adopting sustainable practices, businesses can improve their financial performance, build brand reputation, and attract investment from socially responsible investors. However, the main challenge for many organisations is implementing these practices effectively and integrating them into their business strategy. This requires a shift in mindset and culture, as well as investing in the necessary resources and expertise.

Looking into the Hong Kong economic forecast for 2023, which sectors do you think will be able to rise and perform outstandingly? Which sectors will trail behind, and what can they do to keep up?

Looking at the Hong Kong economic forecast for 2023, the technology and healthcare sectors will continue to perform strongly. The rapid digitalisation of the economy is driving demand for technology-enabled services, whilst the ageing population is creating opportunities in the healthcare sector. Another sector that is expected to do well is green finance, as there is growing demand for sustainable investments and financing solutions. On the other hand, sectors that may face challenges include traditional retail and hospitality, which have been impacted by changing consumer behaviour and travel restrictions. To keep up, these sectors may need to adapt their business models and embrace technology to remain competitive.

As part of the esteemed judges for this year’s HKB National Business Awards, what qualities or achievements are you expecting to see amongst the entries?

As one of the esteemed judges for this year's HKB National Business Awards, it would be nice to see companies that demonstrate excellence in a number of areas. Specifically, businesses that have shown innovation and resilience in the face of challenges, as well as those that have made a positive impact on their communities and the environment, would be highly expected. It would be great to see companies that have strong corporate governance and a commitment to ESG principles. Ultimately, it is believed that the most successful businesses are those that are able to balance financial performance with social and environmental responsibility.

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