11/21/11

I've noticed a couple popular posts on work & living locations in the forums. Many monkeys were also interested in working in international finance centers- perhaps in hopes of standing out with less American competition in hiring pools abroad.

I am quite fortunate to have spent a considerable amount of time living in Singapore, Dubai, and Mumbai. Through various business dealings, I've also often found myself in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, and London. With about 100,000 miles flying under my belt this past summer alone, I think I am in a decent position to give some advice about the various financial hubs around the world.

I will also detail banking/investments/girls/vice within the pro's and con's. As usual, please feel free to add your thoughts.

Hong Kong
Pro's: People go to this stunning city for one, sole reason: money. . Taxi drivers speak English, as do most business people within Hong Kong and Kowloon. Unlike China, you can access Facebook and Twitter. Hong Kong Central is where the financial district lies, and Kowloon offers a little more touristy shopping, hotels, and, of course, breathtaking views of Hong Kong's skyline (pictured above).

If you're into Asian girls, this is the place to be. There is no shortage of Eur-Asians, A.B.C.s, and Pan-Asians. I truly believe that the mix of European ancestry and Far East Chinese have produced some of the prettiest girls in the world. Though, maybe that's just me.

The nightclub scene is utterly insane. Lan Kwai Fong is where bottles of Dom and Cris flow throughout the night. As you will quickly notice, escorts are rampant, even in the most pretentious locations. Fashion is relentless here. Bespoke suits and tailored shirts are cheap, but of extremely high quality, so there really is no excuse to not be dressed like Nucky Thompson.

Speaking of fashion, how could you resist from dressing like a boss when you have some of the most abundant amount of tailors, all located within miles of each other. Take Ascot Chan or WW Chan, some true legends in Far East bespoke.

Con's: The city is expensive as fuck. Although most people get around through Hong Kong's MTR (think NYC subway except much quicker and cleaner), dinners, rent, and partying expenses add up exponentially.

Factories based in Shenzhen and Guangzhou also bring in heavy soot. Usually, on the weekends when the factories are closed, the sky is clear. Otherwise you're SOL. Also, there are Asians every where.

Relative to the other cities that I might detail, blow and trees are easy to find. Nonetheless, penalties for possession are absurdly strict, which makes it seemingly not even worth the hassle.

If there's an interest, I'll write up on my time living in Dubai, Shanghai, and Singapore as well.

Comments (27)

11/21/11

Nice post, interested in what you have to say about other cities as well.

I've been to Dubai, seemed like a horrible place to live - the only girls are escorts. But I guess there are pros such as low taxes and good connection to places around Dubai.

11/21/11

Great post! I also look forward to reading about the others.

11/21/11
mfriedman:

Also there are Asians every where.

Fuck that's funny . . .

11/21/11

interested in hearing bout Dubai.

I've spent time in NY, Paris, HK and Seoul but for me Paris was the best by far...

11/21/11

How appropriate that HK would be your first write-up! Also, surprised you didn't mention the relatively low income tax as a major plus.

In reply to GentlemanJack
11/21/11
mfriedman:

Taxi drivers speak English

LIESSSSSSSSSSSSS!

I had to learn my hotel's name in Canto. And they drive you around in circles and pretend not to speak English and rip you off.

I don't accept sacrifices and I don't make them. ... If ever the pleasure of one has to be bought by the pain of the other, there better be no trade at all. A trade by which one gains and the other loses is a fraud.

11/21/11

But in all seriousness i absolutely LOVED hong kong.

- 45 min drive to the beach
- short boat trip/drive to remote islands
- an hour to Macao by ferry (remember to bring a passport though, my friend went all the way to Macao just to get deported back to HK...)

EDIT: And of course, guys with British accent... not that most people on this forum would care...

I don't accept sacrifices and I don't make them. ... If ever the pleasure of one has to be bought by the pain of the other, there better be no trade at all. A trade by which one gains and the other loses is a fraud.

11/21/11

It gets very hot and humid during the summers.

In reply to ah
11/21/11
ah:
mfriedman:

Taxi drivers speak English

LIESSSSSSSSSSSSS!

I had to learn my hotel's name in Canto. And they drive you around in circles and pretend not to speak English and rip you off.

Sorry to tell you, but unlike the US, most taxi drivers are skilled scam artists. its a fact of life. if HGK cab drivers pretend they dont understand your English, then its too late. you got fucked. lolz

Also, Shanghainese and Canton is only a dialect of hong kongnese.

11/22/11
11/22/11

Let me highlight a few points of HK:

-Tax free on goods and dinning
-MTR covers most places
-full of festival spirit, eg X'mas and New year
-Great place for shopping, but remember to stay away from those electronics store in Tsim Sha Tsui unless you want to explain your case with the popo
-Cell phone plans are cheap, if you are paying USD 30 , you will get 3900 mins and unlimited 3G data
-Food are exceptionally good, just check on www.openrice.com for rating
-Traffic is extreme in here, I mean real bumper to bumper experience. You have to re-learn how to driver in this place.

11/22/11
mfriedman:

perhaps in hopes of standing out with less American competition in hiring pools abroad.

You must be working for S&T or still in your college. IBD in Asia or elsewhere in a non-Western country, non-local at a junior level actually has a disadvantage in hiring.

HK Positives definitely is tax rate. Analyst pay around 15% income tax. With expat package, you get freaking rich about twice as fast compare to the US. But this only happened last year where the HK IPO market topped the world, and it doesn't represent the future trend.

11/22/11

How much of a limitation is having no chinese?

I would be interested in ER but being in a big 4 firm now would love to do a few months in HK before trying to make the move but I only speak English.

Also do Singapore....very interested in Singapor.

11/22/11

Disagree with most cab drivers knowing English - they might have a very basic understanding, or recognize major destinations in English because it's used often (like Central, TST, some big name hotel...). But it's not exactly like in the grid system in NY, there's a lot of winding roads and such in HK and driving can be confusing (also a lot of taxi drivers cover various districts and sometimes aren't familiar with the current area they're in). If you do need to go to a lesser known street and you only speak English, best have a small map or smartphone with you to show the driver.

11/22/11

Just to add on a few things to this:
Pros:
- Echoing what people have said about taxes - top tax rate ranges from 15-16%. No other contributions (social security etc) except for the MPF retirement fund (HK$1,000 /month) - easy to close out when you leave.
- Rent is the only major expense, partying ends up cheaper - no $400 bottle service like NYC, it's actually cost effective.
- 3/4 hour flight from most of Asia, lots of weekend trips. 1hr flight to Taiwan
- Summer is full of boat trips to outlying islands with plenty of booze.
- Probably the best hiking of any major city
- Great public transportation - MTR/Buses/Minibuses connect everything. Lots of apartment complexes have shuttles to Central. Taxis are cheap, and they speak some English - they will get you to central but you need to pick up some canto phrases.
- next to no random crime
- cheap help

Cons:
- Really densely populated, narrow streets/sidewalks.
- You get a lot less space for your money, apartments are small.
- Pretty transient place, people are always coming and going.

11/22/11

yeah bro yeah, lets move to hong kong!!

11/22/11

Wow I want to work in HK.

After a 2-year analyst stint at a boutique, if I have no balls and chains holding me back (gf, wife) and no reservations about making the jump to HK, how easy would it be to network your way into a banking gig there?

I only have 1 connection in HK right now. He's a college friend working at a boutique that is willing to help me out but wow ... sounds like a great place to live for a couple of years.

My name is Nicky, but you can call me Dre.

In reply to aempirei
11/22/11
aempirei:

...if I have no balls and chains holding me back (gf, wife) and no reservations about...

LOL. Though I know what you were trying to say, I don't think you realize what you actually wrote here. If you reread it again in the context of proper grammar usage, it's actually pretty fucking hilarious (in a self-deprecating way).

11/22/11

Haha, I noticed the mistake and meant to change it to "ball-and-chain(s)" as soon as I submitted it but for whatever reason I cannot 'edit' at work. Ah well, funny enough.

My name is Nicky, but you can call me Dre.

In reply to aempirei
11/22/11
aempirei:

Haha, I noticed the mistake and meant to change it to "ball-and-chain(s)" as soon as I submitted it but for whatever reason I cannot 'edit' at work. Ah well, funny enough.

Ahh, that's funny you can't edit it because I quoted your post. Quite the paradox, had I not pointed it out, you would have been able to go-in and fix it. Sorry about that, haha.

In reply to aempirei
11/22/11
aempirei:

Wow I want to work in HK.

After a 2-year analyst stint at a boutique, if I have no balls and chains holding me back (gf, wife) and no reservations about making the jump to HK, how easy would it be to network your way into a banking gig there?

I only have 1 connection in HK right now. He's a college friend working at a boutique that is willing to help me out but wow ... sounds like a great place to live for a couple of years.

It's getting harder and harder to land a gig in HK. In the past, expats that don't speak or read Chinese (Mandarin) could find finance jobs in finance, but because a lot of the deals are China-centric, there's a high preference for Native or Business fluent speakers. There are still opportunities for non-speakers to get in, but it's quite rare. For S&T, it's easier, for IB/PE the move is much harder.

You'll find once you go to HK that there's a fair share of expats or Asians that are non-speakers (or have conversational fluency) working in HK. But they might have gotten in earlier when competition wasn't as stiff, or they transferred from NYC or London with their bank.

I think best bet is to move internally via an investment bank, or find banks that focus on deals outside of China.

11/22/11

I'd be interested in hearing about your experience in Shanghai

"Do whatever it takes to keep the legend of Wall Street as it was truly intended live on. When you think back on investment banking of the early 21st century, remember the heat--remember the passion. But mostly, remember the titans. " - LSO

11/22/11

how hard would it be for a quant

11/23/11

This is a post i did comparing Singapore/HK a while back:

Hong Kong vs. Singapore? honestly. if you can't speak cantonese. its more difficult to be part of the in-crowd. Housing is EXPENSIVE (actually, in both places.) but my estimate is that hotels are more expensive in HK than SG.

however. food is cheaper in HK. commodities stuff seem to be cheaper. Also, taxis are cheaper in HK as well. HK is also much bigger than SG. it's got a bigger infrastructure network than SG (or so it seems, bc its bigger than SG and close to China)

shopping... well in HK u don't get 'VAT' aka 'GST'. So on that note. shopping is probably better in HK. doing business wise--HK has more elements of china than SG. SG feels more cosmopolitan and international. Due to the need of connecting all of SE Asia.

In SG. almost everyone you know is bilingual. children/kids/citizens are forced to know English, and their own native language. So you will meet Chinese singaporeans that can do Eng-Chinese. Malay ppl-will know Eng-Malay(bahasa), Indonesians-Eng-Indonesian. Indians//(indian), Philippinos/tagalog + Eng.

Also creeds and cultures are forced to know English as the platform for communication and business, whilst retaining their native language to keep their home country 'network' and communicability.

Naturally-this would inevitably cause Singapore to be the 'common point' for business exchanges. Quite interesting..

11/23/11

agree with a lot of what you said, but a few other things should be pointed out:

1) the girls are indeed hot, but they are not usually easy - at least not compared to notoriously easy girls elsewhere in China
2) it's fucking hot as shit in the summer... just horrible. The winter and the colder parts of fall/spring are grand though.

In reply to GentlemanJack
11/28/11

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In reply to M Friedman
12/9/11

I don't accept sacrifices and I don't make them. ... If ever the pleasure of one has to be bought by the pain of the other, there better be no trade at all. A trade by which one gains and the other loses is a fraud.

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