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Year-end reflections

Updated: 19 Dec 2016
Charles Li Direct Page

Things have finally started slowing down as we approach Christmas, with colleagues getting ready to leave to spend the holidays with their families. As the office hallways quiet down and the piles of paper on my desk begin to disappear, I found myself leaning back in my chair and reflecting on 2016.

According to the Chinese calendar, 2016 is the year of the monkey. I can't help but be amazed at the great wisdom and foresight of our ancestors who predicted that 2016 would be one of the most unpredictable years ever, just like the monkey. At the beginning of the year, nobody thought Britain would vote to exit the European Union, but it did; nobody thought Donald Trump would be nominated for President of the United States, let alone elected, but he was; here in Hong Kong, nobody thought 2016 would have so much drama, but it did.

Closer to home at HKEX, 2016 has not been easy for us either. Our volumes and revenues are both down. But some very important initiatives, such as Shenzhen Connect, were launched as anticipated. So we thank the monkey for allowing us to achieve at least some of our big dreams. In these difficult times, it is important to continue to harbour hopes and dreams, and strive to work together if we want to progress and turn our collective dreams into reality.

Speaking of dreams, I couldn’t help but look back at some dreams from my early years. One of my first memories was when I was a young oil worker wondering outside the gates of Zhongshan University in Guangzhou one day, where our crew was passing through after a training camp. Watching students coming and going through the gate proudly with their student passes, I so desperately wished that someday I could carry my backpack through those gates too.

When I finally graduated from college, I began to dream to go to America to study, but my student visa application was rejected three times! When I was finally approved, I remember screaming with joy and celebration outside the US Embassy in Beijing, scaring people walking by. I also remember, while a student in Alabama, how much I dreamed of being able to walk into a McDonald’s without ever having to worry about the cost, or have a car that didn’t constantly break down, or have enough money to fix it if it did. When I look back at these dreams, I chuckle because they seem quaint now. But at the time, they were big dreams, dreams so vast that it seemed like they might never come true. I am so thankful that with hard work, lots of help from family and friends and with lots of luck, I have come a long way.

I approach my work at HKEX the same way. Just a few years ago, market commentators in Hong Kong said the “through train”, as it was known then, would be difficult to realise because of technical and regulatory hurdles. Having the Mainland and Hong Kong markets open for trading in both directions seemed like a fantasy. But after the launch of Shanghai Connect in November 2014 and the start of Shenzhen Connect earlier this month, it’s almost taken for granted that the Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzhen markets are connected and accessible on both sides of the boundary.

Lots has been said about Hong Kong being an unlikely commodity market, but we purchased LME and we are on our way to expand from that. We are also preparing to establish a commodities trading platform in Qianhai, Shenzhen. So no matter how big your dreams, stay hopeful, keep your chin up, and most importantly, keep working hard!

I want to share some of my plans for 2017, but recognising that this has been a long and exhausting year, I’ll put them on hold until January. Let’s take a rest. Now’s the time to reflect, and I hope everyone is able to do that over the holidays with their loved ones.

I want to thank everyone again for their support this year: the regulators, our exchange participants and brokers who had to put in long hours to prepare and test for initiatives like Stock Connect, the greater financial market, and of course the staff at HKEX. Without your support our dreams for 2016 wouldn’t have become a reality.

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous 2017.




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