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SFST's opening speech at 14th Hong Kong Institute of Bankers Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards Presentation Ceremony (English only)
     Following is the video opening speech by the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Mr Christopher Hui, at the 14th Hong Kong Institute of Bankers (HKIB) Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards Presentation Ceremony today (June 17):
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
     I am delighted to be part of the 14th HKIB Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards Presentation Ceremony today. I would like to thank the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers for its tireless efforts in advocating excellent standards in the financial planning and wealth management profession. I am also glad to see that the hard work of our outstanding and professional banking practitioners is being recognised every year ever since the inauguration of these awards back in 2006.
     Indeed, talent is an essential building block for our financial market, and it keeps our system running smoothly during challenging times. Thanks to the efforts by every one of you here, our banking system remains resilient even though the pandemic has struck the world with unprecedented impact. Our total deposits have recorded an increase of 1.1 per cent in the first quarter of this year, following an increase of 4.6 per cent in 2021. Our banking system holds assets equivalent to around 9.5 times of our GDP, and it is a major contributor to the total assets and profitability of several global systemically important banks.
     On the new business development front, we have the cross-boundary Wealth Management Connect Scheme up and running since last year, and with your consistent work and professional services, more than 25 000 individual investors have already participated in the scheme and nearly 9 000 remittances had been processed, amounting to over RMB830 million as of March this year.
     All these achievements I have mentioned just now would not be possible without our banking talents. Hong Kong's vibrant banking sector plays a key role in underpinning our status as an international financial centre and our depth of talent would take us to new heights in the future. So in the next few minutes, allow me to share with you all the Government's talent development efforts in our banking and financial sector.
     The financial industry currently has a workforce of more than 270 000 with around 100 000 in banking. Over the past decade, the financial industry had created an average of more than 5 000 new posts each year. According to a study entitled "Capacity Building for Future Banking 2021-2025" issued jointly by the HKMA (Hong Kong Monetary Authority) and the HKIB, who organised this welcoming event today, the demand for talent will only keep rising in order to support banks' business development and expansion plans in the coming years. And the talent gap in the fields of fintech, green finance and the Greater Bay Area (GBA) wealth management is expected to be more pronounced.
     To address the issue of the talent gap, the Government has two strategies to enrich Hong Kong's financial and banking talent pool, and they can be summarised by using two keywords - "evolve" and "cultivate".
     To begin with "evolve", I am sure everyone will agree that the pandemic has marked another new era of innovation and new technology adoption. Our banking sector is also evolving in this competitive and vibrant market that is driven by new technology. We have a few initiatives aiming to upskill our existing workforce to ensure they can keep pace with the needs of the new era, in particular, to fully harness opportunities brought by fintech, and to bridge the gap between "fin" and "tech".
     This is why we have the FinTech Anti-epidemic Scheme for Talent Development (FAST) launched in July 2020 to subsidise local fintech companies, start-ups and other companies with fintech-related operations. The scheme aims to create 1 000 new full-time jobs to employ local people with a view to enriching Hong Kong's fintech talent pool, with total funding of $120 million. As of end-April this year, over 1 000 applications have been received, with over 800 of them being approved and over 700 jobs already filled.
     We are also actively implementing the development of professional qualifications recognised under the Qualifications Framework for fintech practitioners. The first batch of fintech professional qualifications for the banking sector is expected to be rolled out this year. As announced in the 2022-23 Budget, a Pilot Scheme on Training Subsidy for Fintech Practitioners will be launched as well to provide funding support for financial services practitioners to attain fintech professional qualifications under the Qualifications Framework. The scheme will run for three years on a pilot basis and is expected to benefit about 1 500 fintech practitioners.
     Besides evolving with technology, in view of the global target to achieve carbon neutrality, the world is also evolving with green transformation, creating increasing demand for green finance, and thus environmental, social and governance (ESG) and green and sustainable finance professionals. In this regard, we have announced the launch of a three-year Pilot Green and Sustainable Finance Capacity Building Support Scheme.
     Under the scheme, subsidies will be provided for the training and acquisition of relevant professional qualifications, with a view to expanding the local green finance professional team and talent pool, facilitating the industry to enhance its resilience to climate risks and to seize the relevant opportunities. The scheme will cover practitioners in the financial services sectors who need to build up their knowledge in green and sustainable finance.
     Separately, to attract overseas talent by making their immigration requirements easier, ESG professionals have been added as the new professions on our Talent List, which was promulgated by the Government in 2018.
     While equipping our existing financial professionals is important for evolution in the new era, the Government also attaches great importance to nurturing our young generation, as young professionals are vital in keeping our talent pool vibrant and sustainable. So this brings me to my second keyword in our talent development strategies - "cultivate".
     Looking for ways to inject new blood to the industry and considering that recent university graduates may face challenges in finding jobs, the Government has decided to launch the Financial Industry Recruitment Scheme for Young Graduates (YOUTH) last year, creating 200 full-time jobs in the financial services sector for university graduates having obtained a bachelor's degree or above in 2019 to 2021. The scheme is an extension, as well as a youth version of the FIRST (Financial Industry Recruitment Scheme for Tomorrow) scheme, which was launched in 2020 creating 1 500 full-time jobs for the financial industry. The two schemes have not only helped the financial services industry in overcoming adversity during the pandemic, but also enhanced employers' willingness to hire and retain both young and on-the-job talents.
     Opportunities do not just flow from our local market, but also from the Mainland and in particular the GBA. With the development in the GBA growing by leaps and bounds over the past years, we are seeking to nurture our young generation and enhance their understanding of the development and opportunities in the Mainland, fostering their sense of national identity and knowledge of this fast growing market. We aim to broaden their horizon by offering them a holistic view of the career prospects in the GBA and the Mainland. This is why the "Set Sail for GBA - Scheme for Financial Leaders of Tomorrow" has been launched to provide a series of activities for our young generation since November last year.
     Through a number of sharing sessions, workshops and visits to institutions, students had a chance to engage with esteemed business leaders from the financial industry, and learned their personal stories and experience in developing a career in the Mainland and the GBA, thereby equipping themselves and planning for the future with the enormous opportunities from the GBA. Over 100 students have participated in the scheme and selected students are now shadowing different financial business leaders to observe their day-to-day work at their companies, gaining the chance to further interact with them.
     Meanwhile, the HKMA has embarked on a new talent development strategy in September last year. As a sequel of the Banking Talent Programme that has benefited about 650 fresh graduates in 2020 and 2021, the HKMA and the banking sector jointly launched the Banking Graduate Trainee Programme (BGTP) in April this year aiming to nurture new entrants for the fast-growing areas of the banking sector in a more targeted manner. Around 30 participating banks will offer more than 120 entry-level positions related to fintech, green and sustainable finance, and GBA business to recent university graduates under the BGTP.
     Ladies and gentlemen, all the exciting opportunities of the financial industry brought by our promising future would not be captured or realised without the right people - people who are committed to scaling new heights of excellence, and people like all of you. I believe our wide-ranging initiatives focusing on "evolve" and "cultivate" strategies in talent development will provide a clear and recognised career path for employers and practitioners in the industry, maintaining the vibrancy and sustainability of our financial talent pool.
     Finally, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the HKIB again for organising this highly recognised event. I wish the winners every success in their career development, and all of you the best of business and health, thank you.
Ends/Friday, June 17, 2022
Issued at HKT 18:00
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