The Future Is Happening
Written by
Jun 21, 2022
5 mins

Anniversaries come once a year but change and transformation are constant. As we celebrate our 22nd Anniversary as a listed company today and look out at the world, change and transformation are everywhere. 

And HKEX itself is no stranger to change and transformation – it’s in our DNA, it’s what we do.

Our merger in 1986, from four exchanges into one, launch of H-shares in 1993, listing in 2000, acquisition of LME in 2012, creation of Stock and Bond Connect in 2014 and 2017, our listing reforms in 2018 and the launch of A-share futures in 2021 are all chapters in the HKEX story where we have made decisive changes.

And our ongoing transformation is there for all to see. 

In 22 short years we have transformed from a local stock exchange into a leading international exchange group; we have built unmatchable two-way connectivity between China and the world; grown deep, diverse and liquid markets and made far-reaching, fundamental reforms that have changed the DNA of our markets and established ourselves as a premier global capital raising venue of choice.

HKEX itself is no stranger to change and transformation – it’s in our DNA, it’s what we do.
Where do we go from here?

But how to plot the course for our next round of change and transformation, and where do we go from here?

Near-term, the global macro outlook seems likely to be beset by disruption and volatility. Geopolitical turmoil, trade dislocations, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and economic uncertainty are not only clouding the outlook, but they put pressure on the very institutions and accepted ways of doing things that bind the world together.

Exchanges are no stranger to these pressures - new technologies are disrupting the world of finance, issuers are looking beyond public markets for more diverse funding sources, investors are seeking returns for increasingly diverse portfolios, and regulation and the fiscal system can often weigh heavily on the ability to innovate and evolve at the pace that customers want and need. 

The world needs more connections, not less

There are many challenges ahead - but connectivity remains vital to keeping dialogues going, bringing countries together, trading across borders, sharing new ideas and expertise, opening up opportunities and to linking the companies of tomorrow with capital. We must all seek to act as enablers to channel investment into life-changing technologies, to build a shared sustainable path forward and to support investors as they look to access markets and returns. 

It’s our job to keep those connections going and our future lies in finding new, innovative ways to bring individuals, investors, issuers and institutions together.

To achieve that, we need to continue building on what we are good at. 

That means enhancing our market attractiveness, competitiveness and relevance, strengthening Hong Kong as an international financial centre, facilitating the vital two-way capital flows between East and West, delivering vibrant, diversified markets, and supporting the creation of great companies.

To truly innovate and be a company of tomorrow, we need to act like a company of tomorrow.
To be a company of tomorrow, we need to act like a company of tomorrow – and build the Marketplace of the Future

Our vision is to build the Marketplace of the Future. This vision consists of a business that is centred around its clients, because we know that when our clients do well, we do well. We also want to be a company that attracts, nurtures, and empowers the very best talent in the world - this talent will form the base of a team that is ambitious and possesses a positive attitude and a strong risk and control mindset.

We want an organisation built on an infrastructure that is flexible, future proof, reliable, and cost-effective, one that can naturally leverage its scale, skills and reputation to make us more competitive. And of course, diversification is key – a more diversified market with more types of clients and better products and solutions, where you can easily trade multiple assets in a seamless way is the future. And finally, and importantly, we are and will continue to be an institution that considers the interests of all its stakeholders.

To truly innovate and be a company of tomorrow, we need to act like a company of tomorrow, and there is much to learn from the many tech-driven disruptors we see across a range of industries, which apply new technologies and innovations and deliver product platforms with seamless access, efficient execution, at low-cost and with a rich range of services and products.

But how are we going to get there?

Let’s start by disrupting ourselves…

First, we will start by disrupting ourselves. Over the years we have built great pipes and connectivity that are our backbone and our strength. But the competitive landscape has changed dramatically. We don’t just compete with other exchanges, we now compete with fintech companies, digital asset platforms and other start-ups. We need to evolve from an infrastructure-led model to a client-led model and we have to go beyond our current offering, rethink our systems, go further to understand what our clients want. We need to think ambitiously about how we are going to compete in a more global and a more crowded market.

Second, by diversifying our business and embracing megatrends. Clients are demanding access to new asset classes, like digital assets, ESG investments, and data and information services. Take digital assets for example, in a short time the global market for digital assets has grown significantly and moved into the mainstream and for ESG investment products it is a similar story, with Bloomberg estimating that total global ESG AUM will reach US$41 trillion at the end of 2022, compared with US$22.8 trillion in 2016.

Thirdly, by developing flexible and effective infrastructure. Customer experience is paramount and we need to provide seamless access to HKEX’s product and service suite and create client journeys for issuers and investors that put their requirements first, generating platform solutions that directly respond to their needs. To do this we are already investing in digitised infrastructure and embracing Big Data and analytics, open APIs for easy access to platform services, and cloud services to evolve our infrastructure and broaden our platform capabilities. 

And finally - we need even more great people. We need really great people who are excited about being at the forefront of the global financial market evolution. People who want to be where the action is, who want to challenged and see the tangible results of all that they do. Who are empowered to lead from the front, who are purpose-driven and incredibly proud of the role they play in contributing to our shared sustainable future. 

These elements - focusing on the customer, being ambitious and competitive, attracting the best talent, diversifying our business, developing flexible and effective infrastructure, and working for all our stakeholders are at the core of our vision for the Marketplace of the Future and deliver nothing less than a transformation in our business.

Do we have what it takes? Unequivocally, yes.

Change and transformation are in our DNA: we have the desire to enhance the effectiveness and attractiveness of our markets, our home in one of the world’s greatest and most business-friendly cities, and our unrivalled positioning for what I like to call the ‘Big Bang of Finance’. We are poised and ready for the journey, and for success.

With our vision for the Marketplace of the Future we know that we can help create great things that will have an impact for our clients and communities for years to come. We are looking forward to embracing the changing and transforming world around us, challenging ourselves to go further, and writing the next chapter in the HKEX story: the future is happening, and it’s happening now.

Happy Anniversary HKEX!