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Speech by SFST at Opening Ceremony of the Financial World
Expo 2005 (English only)

    Following is a speech by the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Mr Frederick Ma, at the Opening Ceremony of the Financial World Expo 2005 organised by the Institute of Financial Planners of Hong Kong today (October 7):

Juliana, the Honourable Bernard Chan, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     It gives me great pleasure to join you this morning to witness the opening of the Financial World Expo 2005 organised by the Institute of Financial Planners of Hong Kong (IFPHK).  

     I am most pleased to note that building on the success of the first Financial World Expo held last year, the scale of this year's Expo has expanded considerably having attracted over 70 exhibitors from various financial professions.  The expansion illustrates two things.  Firstly, the IFPHK has been doing an excellent job since its establishment in 2000 and has gained much recognition from the trade.  Secondly, with the growing importance of financial and wealth management both locally and internationally, financial events of this kind are attracting more and more interests from financial institutions seeking to reach out to potential clients, and from the investing public who want to know more about financial products and services.  I understand that a total of 72 seminars have been scheduled in this 3-day Expo.  I am sure participants will be able to find the right seminars and topics that suit their needs.

     Financial services industry is a major pillar of our economy.  The financial services industry alone contributed more than 12% to Hong Kong's GDP and employed more than 170,000 people in Hong Kong.  

     Among the growing financial businesses, we see a huge potential in further developing Hong Kong's asset management industry.  Last year, Hong Kong's fund management business amounted to HK$3,618 billion, of which HK$2,269 billion were sourced from overseas investors.  In recent years, Asia's savings are high and economic prospects for the region are good.  This is particularly true in the case of the Mainland, a rapidly growing economy.  According to the National Bureau of Statistics, GDP in the Mainland grew by 9.5% in the first half of 2005.  And the macroeconomic outlook for the Mainland is favourable.  The rapid economic growth of the Mainland has resulted in a keen demand for investment products.  Located in the heart of Asia and at the doorstep of the Mainland, Hong Kong is well placed to tap into the huge amount of savings in the region in the long run and further strengthen our position as a leading asset management centre.  

     To complement the development of Hong Kong's financial services industry, an adequate supply of high quality financial professionals is of utmost importance.  This requires strategic planning and development of human resources (HR) for the financial services sector.  To foster better co-ordination of HR development, the Government has set up an Advisory Committee on Human Resources Development for the financial services sector (which is also called the FinMan Committee) with participation from the industry and the academia.  The FinMan Committee advises the Government on the strategy of meeting the financial services sector's demand for HR development so as to support Hong Kong's further development as an international financial centre.  The work of the FinMan Committee is important as our talents are crucial to our position as an international financial centre.  Our efforts on this front will continue.

     Last but not least, I would like to underline the importance of investor education.  Investor confidence is the cornerstone of any financial market.  Apart from a sound regulatory regime and quality financial reporting, investor education is essential to ensuring investor protection.  The investor education discussed here is not about giving investment tips on which stocks to buy.  It is concerned with helping investors to understand their investment objectives, the nature of different investment tools, the risks involved and their access to information about listed entities and other financial products.  Equipping investors with adequate knowledge and information is the best way to safeguard their interests, and it also contributes to the development of a stable and healthy market.

     To promote the importance of investor protection and education, the regulatory bodies have put in a lot of efforts and resources to enhance the public's understanding about investment, their knowledge of the nature and risks of different investment options as well as their awareness of investors' rights under the law.  We also strongly encourage other concerned parties, such as the industry, professional bodies and the academia, to make concerted efforts to further promote investor education in Hong Kong.

     Ladies and gentlemen, the Expo this year has brought together distinguished financial experts and professionals and provides an ideal platform for financial institutions to present and promote their products and services to the investing public.  Through the Expo, it is hoped that investors will have a better understanding of different investment products and gain more knowledge about financial planning and their wealth management needs.  In closing, I wish the Expo every success. Thank you.

Ends/Friday, October 7, 2005
Issued at HKT 10:36


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