The severe Covid 19 regulations in Hong Kong caused thousands of individuals to leave the city permanently or to transfer temporarily to more accessible regions. However, the relaxing of these regulations is proving to be the impetus for many expat bankers to return to Hong Kong.
Even while visitors from outside of mainland China still need to undergo quarantine for a period of three days upon arrival, this requirement represents a significant improvement over the more stringent regulations that have been in place for the last 2.5 years. “The loosening of limitations is encouraging bankers who have been working abroad to come back. According to the reflections of a banker at one western company, “the authorities listened to the banks when they stated they would go.”
The epidemic, in conjunction with the heightened geopolitical tensions, has caused financial institutions to reconsider their staffing strategies in the Asia-Pacific regions. Because of the transition toward a more hybrid model of working practices, many companies have been more ready to broaden the scope of their recruiting efforts.
Some financial institutions have established regional headquarters in other cities, such as Sydney and Singapore, where they have expanded their operations. However, long-serving bankers in Hong Kong who have claimed that the migration of expats would only be transitory are feeling justified now that their prediction has come true. The senior banker said that “if anything, people are returning now.” He went on to say that a member of his team had returned to Hong Kong with his family nine months after going back to London. “The primary justification is related to the quality of life. In Hong Kong, they had club memberships and maids, but when they visited London, they were in for an unpleasant surprise. ”
While China worked towards implementing a zero COVID plan in Hong Kong, some people who moved did so with the intention that it would only be a temporary transfer. This would enable them to continue to visit their families and clients during this time. According to another banker, a number of his French colleagues had returned, including a neighbor who had moved to Singapore. This person had been absent for some time. They had planned for the transfer to be just temporary, yet despite this, they returned quite shortly. The cost of living in Singapore is through the roof, and after you’ve gotten to know the city, it becomes tedious. You find that you always wind yourself going to the same place for dinner.”
According to a human resources specialist working for a western bank, the institution is seeing an increasing number of inquiries from employees who are interested in moving back to Hong Kong. It’s as unpredictable as a coin toss. We used to deal with folks who wanted to move out, but now we’re assisting those who want to move back in,” stated the person. At this point, all Hong Kong needs to maintain itself is a steady flow of business transactions.