Light At The End Of The Tunnel
The rapid development of Covid vaccines points the way to (eventual) opening up of travel, with Hong Kong likely to be one of the quickest to provide a vaccine to all its citizens.
In the meantime, the further good news for companies (or individuals) planning to set up in Hong Kong is that HSBC, Hong Kong’s dominant bank, is also opening up, in a virtual way.
Recent changes by HSBC now allow account opening without customers having to travel to Hong Kong for interview and signature verification, thereby removing a major hurdle to starting up here.
Starting a new business, virtually, in Hong Kong, without actually going there, is more doable than ever.
HSBC is now able to conduct the account opening Know Your Client procedure via telephone, after which the banker will email the application forms to the customer for signing.
If the directors are already holding personal or business accounts with HSBC Hong Kong, and HSBC has their signatures already on file, then the customer can simply sign and return the original forms to them.
For customers who are not already banking with HSBC Hong Kong, they will need to have their signature witnessed at their local bank outside Hong Kong. This does not have to be HSBC: it can be any other bank, e.g. customer’s existing banker. I.e. they have to find a bank officer to verify their signature.
The original forms would then need to be couriered back to HSBC Hong Kong officer in charge for submission after which the application can be reviewed and the account opened.
Primasia has already handled successful applications under the relaxed procedure. Contact us for more information.
Online Bank Accounts
In addition to traditional banking options, Primasia’s partner, Currenxie, can also provide an online payments solution, also without travelling to Hong Kong. Please contact us for more details.
The risks in employing someone remotely are less in Hong Kong than most other places.
Firstly, Hong Kong’s employment rules are very employer-friendly. Many of the complications someone expects if coming from a European or Australian environment (such as on termination of employment) simply do not exist in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong offers a lot of flexibility in employment agreements including, for example, on probation periods.
In Hong Kong, either party can give immediate notice during a probation period, so a mistake need not be costly or time consuming. There is no formal limit on the length of a probation period (within reason) and probation can be extended (again, within reason). With COVID and travel restrictions, what is deemed reasonable would likely be more flexible still. Confirmation could be subject to final physical interview, for example, assuming that travel restrictions will be lifted eventually.
A clear summary of the rules is contained in a booklet published by the Labour Department, which Primasia can provide to you. And local advice on employment offers, on probation terms and on other aspects, can limit financial exposure on staff who don’t work out. Ask us!
Secondly, the residual risks inherent in any employment relationship can be further managed down. Local knowledge can assist in vetting applicants: there are certain flags to look out for on local CVs, and some checks are more easily carried out by a local partner than remotely. (Primasia can advise on this.)
Also, being interviewed from home in a tiny Hong Kong apartment is not ideal. Primasia can offer a meeting room and video conferencing for the online interview to take place in, to create a formal and professional interview environment. (Not everyone has a suitable room or device to Zoom from, or a guarantee of being undisturbed.) Whether or not someone physically shows up for an interview, even a Zoom one, is also a key filter of who is suitable and who isn’t.
The same considerations apply to renting space. How do you ensure that you don’t rent the wrong space, in the wrong area, at the wrong price and on the wrong terms, even if it is “only” co-working space?
WFH is not as attractive in Hong Kong as elsewhere: not all Hong Kong staff want to work from a cramped and crowded Hong Kong apartment. An office to work in, if only occasionally, may actually be a staff inducement, as well as improving productivity. And with cheap and reliable public transport, commuting is less of a problem than elsewhere.
Local knowledge can help select the right space (and to review the agreements). One of our partners is also developing a portal to search and compare around 100 co-working spaces in Hong Kong. And one major business centre is offering free space provided a 6-month agreement is signed. Ask us !
Not everything just does itself with or without COVID. But we can help with the small stuff, like receiving couriers, forwarding mail, and hosting the occasional meeting.
The Next Step?
If you are ready to sell to Hong Kong’s affluent and internationally-minded market of 7.5 million early-adopters, or to use Hong Kong as your springboard to China and the rest of Asia, contact Primasia for the “how to” and the “why to”. Recovery is coming, with or without you!
Primasia Corporate Services is a Hong Kong based corporate services provider that has been supporting its clients in Asia for over three decades. Among several of our services, Primasia Hong Kong (Primasia) offers our clients Online Accounting services, China Company Incorporation services, Virtual CFO services, MPF Filing services, Profit tax filing services, Employment return filing services, Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise (WFOE) incorporation and registration services etc. One of our services which we are proud to be offering our clientele is our investment visa and working visa Hong Kong services.
Connect with Primasia Corporate Services Limited
John Barclay: firstname.lastname@example.org / https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnbarclayofprimasia/
Teresa Tam: email@example.com / https://www.linkedin.com/in/primasiateresatam/
Hong Kong Headquarters: Suite 1106-08, 11/F., Tai Yau Building, No. 181 Johnston Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong