Regulatory in Hong Kong

Allen & Overy

Allen & Overy garners praise for its 'deep understanding of the regulatory landscape'. The group reports an uptick in instructions from the banking arena regarding licensing and virtual banking issues, and counts fintech work as a core strength of the practice. Matt Bower has expertise in acting for financial institutions in regulatory investigations, and the 'excellent' Charlotte Robins is noted for her strength in handling both compliance and market misconduct matters. Of counsel Andre Da Roza is a key contact.

Practice head(s):

Charlotte Robins; Matt Bower

Other key lawyers:

Andre Da Roza

Testimonials

Charlotte Robins has an exemplary knowledge base and is able to very quickly hone in on the key analysis that clients need‘.

Creative, well connected with regulators and understand what they expect, business-minded‘.

Excellent individual knowledge of local regulations and requirements, and ability to judge what actions may be permitted (or not). Provide excellent counsel for framing decisions and deciding on actions‘.

Clifford Chance

Mark Shipman and Donna Wacker head up the practice at Clifford Chance, which counts Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) investigations and Market Misconduct Tribunal (MMT) proceedings as core strengths. The client base includes global financial institutions and regulatory bodies. Rocky Mui is a key name, while Viola Lui made partner in May 2020.

Practice head(s):

Mark Shipman; Donna Wacker

Other key lawyers:

Rocky Mui; Viola Lui

Key clients

Credit Suisse

CQS

Citadel

Invesco

Schroder Investment Management

HSBC Global Asset Management

UBS

JP Morgan

CPPIB

Standard Chartered Bank

Work highlights

  • Acting for a company listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in ongoing MMT proceedings regarding an alleged breach of SFO disclosure regulations.
  • Advising Citadel on non-contentious regulatory matters.

Baker McKenzie

Baker McKenzie's non-contentious practice houses the 'practical' Karen Man, who is very well versed in handling fintech mandates. On the contentious side, Cynthia Tang is the key contact and often acts for global and domestic banks and financial institutions in regulatory investigations. Bryan Ng is another key name for contentious regulatory work. Grace Fung made partner in June 2020.

Practice head(s):

Cynthia Tang; Karen Man

Other key lawyers:

Bryan Ng; Grace Fung

Testimonials

Karen Man attends to details and her advice is very user-friendly‘.

Key clients

Dah Sing Bank

United Overseas Bank

The Carlyle Group

The Edelweiss Group

Work highlights

  • Advised Edelweiss Securities (a subsidiary of the Edelweiss Group) on its application for a licence from the SFC in order to set up its Indian securities and futures brokerage business in Hong Kong; the application was successful.

Deacons

Deacons' practice was bolstered recently by the arrival of consultant Stephen Tisdall from Hong Kong's SFC and has significant experience in advising on securities and regulatory matters. The contentious practice houses Joseph Kwan, who is noted for his expertise in acting for clients in SFC investigations. On the non-contentious side, Jeremy Lam and Jane McBride, who heads up the firm’s dedicated SFC licensing, compliance, and regulatory team, are the key names; securities-related mandates are a core strength for the pair. Consultant Simon Deane is a name to note.

Other key lawyers:

Simon Deane; Stephen Tisdall

Herbert Smith Freehills

At Herbert Smith Freehills, the team is advising ASIFMA on the implementation of a licensing reform announced by the SFC in 2019, which focuses on setting up measures to prevent the issue of "rolling bad apples" - individuals with a history of misconduct moving between firms within the financial industry. Kyle Wombolt, and Hannah Cassidy are noted for their expertise in contentious regulatory work. Jeremy Birch is very experienced in handling cross-border compliance matters. The team lost William Hallat who joined Gibson Dunn in April 2021.

Key clients

Alternative Investment Management Association (AIMA)

Asia Securities Industry & Financial Markets Association (ASIFMA)

Linklaters

Singapore-based Melvin Sng and fintech expert Sumit Indwar head up the practice at Linklaters. The team assisted Jardines with forming a virtual bank joint venture with Bank of China (Hong Kong) and JD Digits, which was the recipient of one of the first three virtual banking licences permitted by the HKMA. Andrew Chung is a key name for contentious regulatory matters. In June 2020 Annabella Fu van Bijnen joined R&P China Lawyers as a consultant.

Practice head(s):

Melvin Sng; Sumit Indwar

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Chung

Testimonials

Good knowledge and the turnaround time is impressive‘.

Melvin Sng is very responsive‘.

Key clients

Bank of America Merrill Lynch

JP Morgan

Citi

KKR

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX)

Nomura

Ashurst

Ashurst houses a 'strong financial services regulatory practice'. The team provides 'commercial and pragmatic advice' across a broad range of contentious and non-contentious regulatory matters. James Comber heads up the contentious side of the practice, while the 'very knowledgeable' Ben Hammond leads on the non-contentious side. In 2019 Stephanie Chan joined Reed Smith Richards Butler as a partner.

Practice head(s):

Ben Hammond; James Comber

Testimonials

Ben Hammond is our premier go-to lawyer for all regulatory matters in Hong Kong. Brilliant, yet approachable, Ben has an outstanding wealth of knowledge and is always up to date on all the latest developments in this field. I cannot recommend him more highly‘.

Ben Hammond – very knowledgeable on Hong Kong regulatory matters, complemented with a good understanding of global regulation and a sensitivity to the pressure points of large financial firms‘.

Ben Hammond is affable and approachable. No question is too small for him. He explains things in a manner that is easily understood‘.

Ashurst has always had a superior level of client service compared to other firms. They are always responsive and a pleasure to deal with‘.

Key clients

Credit Suisse

HSBC

Huiyin Smart Community

Merrill Lynch

Société Générale

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP is noted for its 'extensive experience in the regulatory contentious space', as well its 'great insider knowledge of the market and practical approach to advising clients'. The team is well known for handling financial regulatory matters, MMT proceedings, and SFC investigations. Martin Rogers shares leadership of the practice with James Wadham and the 'proactive' and 'hands-on' Karen Chan.

Testimonials

Martin Rogers is an industry leader in this space, with extensive knowledge and experience in regulatory contentious work, he also has strong relationships with regulators which is helpful when analysing regulatory thinking‘.

Martin Rogers has his finger on the pulse to everything‘.

 

Dechert

Dechert garners praise for its 'strong industry knowledge'. Recent work for the team includes handling SFC investigations for a client base of asset managers, financial institutions, and insurance companies. Michael Wong  'is equipped with strong industry knowledge on funds and regulator's views'; he shares leadership of the practice with Maria Sit.

Practice head(s):

Michael Wong; Maria Sit

King & Wood Mallesons

King & Wood Mallesons' 'highly solution-oriented and commercial' team has 'very good local knowledge of the market and regulatory expectations'. The group is adept at assisting securities entities and banks with non-contentious regulatory work, however, the practice is also strong at handling SFC investigations. The 'very client-focused' Richard Mazzochi leads the team. Banking specialist Minny Siu is singled out for her 'in-depth knowledge and experience in complicated financial services regulatory matters, particularly relating to bank and securities firm as well as new products'. Urszula McCormack is a key name for regulatory fintech matters.

Practice head(s):

Richard Mazzochi

Other key lawyers:

Urszula McCormack; Minny Siu

Testimonials

Highly professional, internationally experienced team with very good local knowledge of the market and regulatory expectations. Highly solution-oriented and commercial‘.

Richard Mazzochi and Minny Siu are very client-focused and creative in facilitating solutions that also meet regulatory expectations‘.

Urszula McCormack has a keen sense of business realities and has helped us with creative problem-solving and analysis for uncertain and ambiguous questions‘.

Minny Siu has in-depth knowledge and experience in complicated financial services regulatory matters (particularly relating to bank and securities firm as well as new products). She demonstrates strong technical ability in providing cross-border advice on financial services regulatory matters‘.

Key clients

The Hong Kong Association of Banks

ZA Bank

Citibank

Morgan Stanley

World Bank

Work highlights

  • Acting as Hong Kong counsel to ZA Bank on the launch of its virtual bank business.
  • Acting as lead counsel to World Bank on establishing a financial regulatory framework in Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines, Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Laos in order to develop the countries’ digital economies.

Minter Ellison

Minter Ellison's 'sensible and effective' team is noted for its 'deep bench strength and years of experience in the Hong Kong regulatory market'. SFC investigations and MMT proceedings are key areas of instruction for the group. Practice head David Morrison is viewed as 'a long-standing leader of the Hong Kong regulatory market'. The 'very capable' Nathan Dentice, Desmond Yu ('a sound operator'), William Barber, and Eddy So are key names.

Practice head(s):

David Morrison

Testimonials

Strong industry knowledge and practical solutions‘.

Eddy So is responsive to our queries and provides practical solutions‘.

The regulatory practice of Minter Ellison is highly recommended with a very experienced team that has the specialised knowledge to cover a wide variety of topics within this area. Their service is outstanding, always efficient, and cost-effective‘.

Key clients

Noble Group Limited

The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong

Financial Reporting Council

The Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants

BHP International Markets

CITIC Group

AcrossAsia

Pacific Andes International Holdings

Work highlights

  • Advising the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants on non-contentious regulatory matters.
  • Acted for Pacific Andes International Holdings in an SFC investigation, which concluded with no action being taken.
  • Advising the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong on a broad range of non-contentious regulatory matters.

Stephenson Harwood

At Stephenson Harwood, Ian Childs heads up the contentious side of the practice, while Mark Reed leads on the non-contentious side. Fintech mandates are a core strength for the team, which also handles licensing, compliance, and financial regulatory matters. Katherine Liu is 'efficient and authoritative'. Associate Conrad Lam is 'able to explain complex issues in a logical concise way'.

Practice head(s):

Mark Reed; Ian Childs

Other key lawyers:

Katherine Liu; Conrad Lam

Testimonials

Katherine Liu is easily reachable and quickly responsive.’

Conrad Lam is very experienced and his communication skills are also very strong, both on paper and verbally.’

Key clients

Airstar Bank

Black Crane Investment Management

HKT Flexi

PrimeCredit

Work highlights

  • Advising PrimeCredit regularly on a wide spectrum of regulatory and compliance issues arising from its business operations, such as the Money Lenders Ordinance (and licensing conditions applicable to money lenders), data privacy, anti-money laundering, and customer bankruptcy matters.
  • Advised HKT Flexi, a subsidiary of HKT Limited, on the successful launch of its money lending business in Hong Kong.
  • Assisted Airstar Bank with the launch of its virtual banking services.

Hogan Lovells

Mark Lin heads up the 'diligent, responsive and straight-talking' team at Hogan Lovells, which has been kept especially busy handling fintech mandates. Corporate law expert Mark Parsons and Andrew McGinty, who 'delivers practical solutions', are key contacts. Tim Fletcher has retired.

Practice head(s):

Mark Lin

Other key lawyers:

Mark Parsons; Andrew McGinty

Testimonials

Andrew McGinty is responsive and attentive, and his advice is always practical, clear and client-focussed‘.

They provide high quality advice and deliver it in a professional manner‘.

Key clients

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX)

Prudential Holdings

The Hong Kong Association of Banks

Citibank

Work highlights

  • Assisting HKEX with the development and implementation of an artificial intelligence-driven credit information platform.
  • Advised HSBC Life on a technology collaboration agreement with CXA Group for the development of an employee benefits marketplace platform.
  • Advised Prudential on its Asia-Pacific regional technology collaboration agreement with Indian-based global technology service provider Tech Mahindra.

Kennedys

Viewed by some as having 'real commendable experience' in contentious regulatory matters, the 'practical' team at Kennedys has been kept busy handling, among other areas, SFC investigations and MMT proceedings for clients from the insurance and financial services sectors. Practice head Kevin Yam 'reads the Hong Kong regulatory landscape with precision'. Of counsel Rachel Yuen is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Kevin Yam

Other key lawyers:

Rachel Yuen

Testimonials

Kevin Yam takes care of clients well, and is highly professional‘.

Work highlights

  • Represented four former non-executive directors of skincare company Magic Holdings in MMT proceedings regarding an alleged breach of SFO disclosure regulations after L’Oréal acquired all shares in the client; three were cleared of the charges.
  • Representing a prominent, listed company executive in connection with ongoing regulatory and criminal investigations involving the first ever joint operations between the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and the SFC.

Latham & Watkins LLP

At Latham & Watkins LLP, Catherine McBride shares leadership of the practice with recently promoted partner Simon Hawkins. Fintech mandates are prominent in the group's workload; in a recent example, the team assisted Insight Fintech, a subsidiary of Xiaomi, with its successful application for a virtual banking licence from the HKMA.

Testimonials

Simon Hawkins is excellent, he’s very experienced and always responsive and proactively flags market developments that may be under the general radar but relevant to us, which is much appreciated‘.

Key clients

Credit Suisse

China Life (Overseas)

Xiaomi

Norton Rose Fulbright

Norton Rose Fulbright's team, led by Etelka Bogardi, has expertise across a broad spectrum of contentious and non-contentious regulatory work. Fintech matters have been prominent in the group's recent workload, alongside assisting financial institutions with licensing issues, among other areas.

Practice head(s):

Etelka Bogardi

Key clients

IS Prime

China Southern Fund Management Company

National Social Security Fund (NSSF)

Work highlights

  • Advised fintech company IS Prime Hong Kong on its successful Type 3 Leveraged Foreign Exchange Trading license application, issued by the SFC.

Swartz Binnersley & Associates

The 'very charismatic and experienced' team at Swartz Binnersley & Associates is led by the 'very practical' Kristi Swartz. The practice counts fintech as a key pillar of strength; recent work includes advising clients on blockchain regulatory issues, SFC licensing, and cryptocurrency matters. Associate Alan Lee is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Kristi Swartz

Other key lawyers:

Alan Lee

Testimonials

Kristi and her team have a very in depth knowledge of new technology alongside existing HK licensing frameworks. She provides very practical advice in an area that is continually changing‘.

Kristi Swartz has in-depth knowledge and is commercially orientated. She is able to offer the most pragmatic solutions to clients and is an expert in her field. Her understanding of the commercial and evolving industry allows her to provide the most suitable advice to clients‘.

Kristi Swartz is very skilled at navigating regulatory requirements for fintechs‘.

Kristi Swartz having experience dealing with traditional regulatory authorities like the SFC and being involved in a number of forefront projects in fintech and blockchain gives her particular insights that other firms may overlook or consider‘.

The combination of customer-centric, professional, diligence, solution orientation and proactiveness is what makes the team from Swartz Binnersley & Associates unique from other firms‘.

Very down to earth team‘.

Key clients

AngelHub

FinTech Association of Hong Kong (FTAHK)

Global Payments

GSR Markets

Lock Stocks

MCM Partners

SoFi Holdings (Hong Kong)

Statrys

TigerWit (Hong Kong)

Work highlights

  • Advising startup investment platform AngelHub on its proposal to the SFC to amend its licensing conditions in order to provide investment opportunities to non-professional investors via its online platform by way of private placements.
  • Acted as Hong Kong counsel to financial technology company TigerWit on its successful application to the SFC for a leveraged foreign exchange trading licence.