Hong Kong vs New York - the war is on!!

techjobsyankee's picture
Rank: King Kong | 1,322

Allright. Let's cut this diplomatic b/s out. We all know that in the next 20 years, the years when our careers will either be made or lost, another more important contest will be playing out : HK vs. NYC in the battle for global financial capital supremacy.

Now, I can think of a many, many reasons for HK eventually not winning - correct - these would also be the reasons for NYC winning. But there are also a few compelling reasons that may push HK over the line.

My money is on NYC, despite agreeing that the global wealth reserves will shift to HK/China.

USA , USA!!

Any thoughts?

London? Sorry you were once great, but we are well, well past the industrial revolution.

HK vs. NYC.

Comments (52)

Mar 24, 2017

As someone born and raised there for a good decade and some, and now a U.S. citizen, it seems to me that the expanding influence on which mainland China is placing on the H.K. S.A.R. will continue to render it unable to fulfill what it had once promised in the late 90s and 00s. Granted, the other side of the token is that it provides a link to the mainland China as a "free market", but as the Chinese continues to place a greater emphasis on other "mainland" cities such as Shanghai and Shenzhen to prosper, it leaves one to wonder what exactly will continue drive H.K.'s economy, barring its pegged currency to the dollar and relatively "free" economy compared to the mainland.

Furthermore, the political climate and sentiments there are quite feverish and not exactly healthy to the local and regional economy. Hong Kong in the early 2000s was arguably one of the best places to live and work in, a de facto global financial capital, but I personally feel that the short-term future is not too bright.

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Mar 25, 2017

I like your answer, you seem to make the point that HK will be stymied due to its proximity to the Middle Kingdom. But I'd argue that it's this proximity itself which is HK's great, if not greatest, strength. Views?

Mar 25, 2017

I don't think he is disputing that - it is just that in the past few years, China has been exerting its influence over Hong Kong in a way that has become increasingly concerning for a lot of native Hong Kongers.

If you read some articles on the current political situation as @Eldra mentioned this will become more apparent, but for one example, there have been several cases where people have "disappeared" only to reappear in the hands of the security services in mainland China.

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Mar 27, 2017

+1 this is the widespread opinion among long-term expats in HK

Mar 24, 2017

The thing about Hong Kong is I feel like its all fun and games until you get hung for a simple possession of marijuana charge. Based strictly upon American pride and zero research I'm gonna say NYC reigns supreme in this one.

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Mar 24, 2017

That's another thing. The Chinese don't play with drugs. If you think America was harsh with marijuana and other harder drugs, think again...

Mar 25, 2017

Plus I feel like Hong Kong is the type of place where the Chinese mafia might kidnap you and steal your spleen if you don't stay on point during a night out.

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Mar 25, 2017

The Chinese just don't play full stop. That's why they are not innovative. Yes they are by a margin the best at STEM, no contest here. But to translate that to innovation you need to be non conformist.

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Mar 25, 2017

As much as I would like Hong Kong to win (I really love the place even outside of finding a job and I don't ever plan on leaving the place), I just feel there is way too much competition in the APAC area so to say. Singapore is catching up/has already caught up significantly, Shanghai and Shenzhen have a lot more direct support from the government, Tokyo might have a second chance (even though I kinda doubt it).

Mar 25, 2017

BUT, the question was about who would become the leading global financial centre. Soft power factors such as english, rule of law, ease of migration, listing rules etc. are all in play here.

HK's financial system will likely have more capital, but will companies raise capital there or raise in NYC? If Alibaba is anything to go by then: NYC FTW!

Tokyo - best city in the world, in my view, but due to Japan's xenophobic non english speaking ways can never ever be a global leading finance capital - i.e. number one overall.

Singapore is too small and too regulated.

Shanghai should be in the mix then, NYC > HK> Shanghai

Mar 25, 2017

I would say you're focusing too much on Asia. I'd argue that London will not fall behind a secondary Asian city like Shanghai in our lifetime, due to existing infrastructure, intellectual capital (universities and nonfinance professionals), and English-speaking multiculturalism (English, but also like every nationality in the world)

Mar 25, 2017

It is simple, where would you prefer to park your assets (from a developed country perspective ie US, Europe, considering that is where 60%+ of the world's capital is)? New York every day.

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Mar 25, 2017

New York FTW!

Mar 25, 2017

New York is the center of the fucking universe!

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Apr 2, 2017

Fuck yeah

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Mar 26, 2017

Maybe Theresa May could.... wait for it: "Make London Great Again!" Ha

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Mar 27, 2017

Hong Kong has a very slim chance of staying Asia's financial capital. NY's role is more entrenched.

If you've ever had experience in both regions then you know there is no "war". NY is far more dominant, HK is a systemically important satellite in Asia, not a contender for NY's spot.

Even if China grows to define financial and economic activity in the future, HK has to face down against Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen, each city having a very strong case for the crown.

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Sep 6, 2017
TheOceanizer:

Hong Kong has a very slim chance of staying Asia's financial capital. NY's role is more entrenched.

If you've ever had experience in both regions then you know there is no "war". NY is far more dominant, HK is a systemically important satellite in Asia, not a contender for NY's spot.

Even if China grows to define financial and economic activity in the future, HK has to face down against Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen, each city having a very strong case for the crown.

Can really second this - worked in NYC and currently in HK. There is no war, not even close. New York will be the number 1 financial center in the world, past, present and also in the future years to come. Arguably, I'm still in the age band where I think NYC is far more superior and fun when it comes to having a social life and good street mood. Hong Kong is frustrated - it doesn't have the full support of Chinese government, it is too small geographic wise and yes, Hong Kong locals are frustrated and the younger generation is frustrated - astronomical housing prices and low stagnating wage growth. What's an average undergrad making in HK vs. US nation wide vs. NYC? How about housing price? You figure it out.

In terms of the financial industry today, foreign banks are being ripped away by Chinese competitors and securities houses in terms of business and "the way things work in China". Less knowledgeable people when it comes to how money can be made overall. Less fun (please don't shout LKF - it's a shitty street, empty clubs and run down bars with lots of third worlds tourists puking on the street vs. Hells Kitchen, Meat Packing and some of the nice rooftop bars in NYC? No just no).

Mar 27, 2017

Even if the Greater China region gets bigger than North America, HK will not surpass NYC. Why? Because no other city in the US comes close. On the other hand there are just so much more competition in the greater China region, HK vs Shanghai vs Beijing.

Sep 6, 2017

I worked for a top BB in HK and decided to come back for full time. Here are my 0.02 about HK vs. NY debate.

1)compensation: HK pays much better with 15% income tax for non-Americans and substantial housing allowances.

2)prestige: NYC is better in prestige, but whether one could get into a firm as prestigious as that of HK might be questionable. In most times, HK-NY candidates have to chose between GS/MS HK vs. JPM/Citi NYC so the candidates need to decide if they prefer the prestige on the location or on the firm.

3)senior exposure: analyst cohort is smaller in HK, and thus analysts could have more opportunities working directly with senior people to network within the organizations.

4)responsibilities: analyst cohort is smaller and deals are abundant so sometimes one might take significant responsibilities in a deal team.

5)long term career prospect: banking is all about building relations both in and out of the organizations and generating revenues from these relations. If one has the cultural/ethnical/language affinity to one region, why not just go and cash out the comparative advantages as the Asian market is still hot

6)cultures: In HK, not everyone is from Westchester County or New Canaan, CT, so one needs not to fit into certain cultural stereotypes to feel comfortable or be popular in the organization.

7)family & friends: if your family/friends are in the region, then definitely HK is the choice closer to home.

8)Full time prospects: HK bankers are not stupid and HK values a lot on the long-term commitment to the region; the least thing they want to see is that one received an HK offer and leverage that for NYC ones. The firm management will constantly evalue a candidate's likelihood to stay in the region and consider the commitment to Asia as an important factor for giving out full time offers.

The bottomline is that if one has the cultural/ethnical/linguistic/family connection to the region, then Asia Pacific is the good place to start, and if one merely treats the region as the stepping stone or lacks understanding of local culture then HK is not a fit.

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Sep 6, 2017

hey man, I really liked what you said regarding HK and NYC. It is quite a dilemma for me to pick between the two. I have a strong Asian background as my close relatives are still in China. Yet I consider myself quite white-washed and I've always planned to work in the States simply because it excites me more. I know that this is probably a very narrow minded thought because I actually have never been to HK and don't really know what it's like there, but I've always thought that I might not really fit into true Asian culture. For example, here at school, most of my friends are Caucasians or true ABC's.

Sep 6, 2017

then you would better not pursue internships in HK or pretend to be committed to the Asian market. HK banks would not extend full time offers if that only serves as the leverage for NYC ones, regardless of how hard you work--and that could be detrimental.

Sep 6, 2017

To Bullish:

Before I get into the HK vs. NYC discussion, I would like to clarify some issues.

First, it is the issue of prestige. YES and ABSOLUTELY, I agree that prestige is important and I do live and believe in that. I also agree that prestige may not a very logical argument when it comes to it but in reality, perceptions aEU" and not necessarily logic aEU" may matter most. To add some credibility to my writings, I did end up at one point in my career having to choose between a aEUoeless prestigiousaEU opportunity vs. aEUoea more prestigiousaEU opportunity in investment banking and I chose the latter, even knowing that my quality of life in the aEUoeless prestigiousaEU firm would be better; hence, it would be foolish of me to argue against myself to say that prestige is not important.

I think many individuals have misread me for the previous post when I compare BoA vs. Goldman Sachs (which somehow extended to Ford vs. Ferrari). My intent of that post WAS NOT to argue that BoA is a better than GS/MS/ML/etc. but rather to point out to current prospective job seekers / students to think a little broader; that is, try to maintain a bigger perspective on your own career and life, rather than get too wound up on the often "groupthink" mentality on this forum. I hope that is clear. To be even more clear, I have no doubt in my mind that a GS is a much better firm / job / responsibility / exposure / etc than any BoA out there.

Now that's settled.

I'll point out something issues that I agree and disagree, or want to amend to in the previous posts: (those who read what I write from time to time would notice that I love to use bullets)

(1) In terms of "prestige" (and just measuring it based on that sole factor), I would AGREE that NYC would give a better prestige than HK -- simply because decades of corporate finance activity have been done out in NYC. At the end of the day, HK belongs more to the mature market (from existing HK corporations) + emerging market (from China and perhaps surrounding Southeast Asia countries) group.

(2) juliansyin aEU" I agree with 99% with what you wrote in terms of comparing HK vs. NYC. Perhaps I can amend to that. The senior exposure and responsibility in HK are definitely greater than what is offered in both Toronto and NYC (and perhaps even more so in NYC due to the aEUoeanalyst armyaEU style of recruitment).

On an absolute numbers basis, there will be aEUoemore deals PER FIRMaEU in NYC than HK. However, on a relative basis, each analyst would be assigned to aEUoemore deals PER ANALYST / HEAD COUNTaEU due to the small team nature of HK.

For long-term career prospects, I notice that many individuals talk about exit opportunities into the buy-side. I think juliansyin has addressed the career side of sell-side quite well. In terms of buy-side, a lot of American / European PE shops are being set up in HK / Beijing / Shanghai right now to leverage the opportunities there (read: KKR and the likes). However, unlike the American PE environment, PE in China is still fraught with regulatory hurdles (read: PCCW deal).

As for myself, this is what I think:
-ThereaEU(tm)s no doubt in my mind that I will one day work in NYC because, like Bullish and many people on this board, NYC still has that aEUoeBig AppleaEU prestige factor. However, I reason that it would be VERY DIFFICULT to move from NYC > HK than vice-versa. Perhaps I am wrong but this is how I reason it --- as an individual of Chinese descent, the longer I stay away from a Chinese speaking and Chinese culture environment, the greater the chance I will lose it. Hence, if I work in an NYC investment banking environment, I would be assimilated into that NYC banker culture, which clearly would not work in HK / China. However, having educated in a Western society, it is quite easy for me to work in HK, get the exposure there and adapt right back to the NYC culture.

-Would I be interested in leveraging my Hong Kong + Toronto investment banking experience into NYC and/or London? Hell no. Think long term guys. Whether it be in investment banking or exiting into other opportunities in the future, your greatest asset is your contacts and a huge part of it is the trust that youaEU(tm)ve earned with them. Do you really want to be perceived as a guy with no loyalty whatsoever? Sure, youaEU(tm)ll jump ship trying not to burn any bridges but in reality, can it really be done so smoothly? In my eyes, a aEUoebank jumperaEU is not exactly a person IaEU(tm)d place a high level of trust upon.

My two cents. Comments welcomed.

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Sep 6, 2017

HK banks would not extend full time offers if that only serves as the leverage for NYC ones

I think you overestimate the firm's ability to know each intern's intentions.

How do you think a firm differentiates between interns who want to stay in HK, and those who want NYC after college. Does it say right on their name tags?

Sep 6, 2017

they can easily do that although such practice is not absolute.

  1. nationality: Americans (PR and citizens) are paid less on an after-tax basis (or comparable to that of NYC) compared to their non-American peers. Thus staying in HK seems to be a lesser logical choice given compensations were much more the same in both places.
  2. language capability: if one sucks on mandarin speaking or general chinese writing, s/he ain't gonna have an easy time in APAC investment banking scene.
Sep 6, 2017

In HK is higher because there is a $25k yearly housing allowance (given as cash), in addition to NYC salary + bonus. I think hours are worse, exit opportunities also not as good. Most people tend to stay in banking, rather than go to HFs or PE.

Sep 6, 2017

A lot of you have very limited perspectives. The view at the MBA level is very different. You go where you want to live and start your life. I went to a top MBA program and I have NEVER heard anyone debate ML HK vs. GS NY for prestige. It means nothing. The question is where do you want to live and work.

Sep 6, 2017
skins1:

A lot of you have very limited perspectives. The view at the MBA level is very different. You go where you want to live and start your life. I went to a top MBA program and I have NEVER heard anyone debate ML HK vs. GS NY for prestige. It means nothing. The question is where do you want to live and work.

skins1, which MBA program did you go to?

Sep 6, 2017

To skins1:

I agree with you and thank you for putting a more positive / broader perspective on this forum.

Sep 6, 2017

hey somecdndude, I private messaged you.

Mar 27, 2017

Ever heard of Brexit?
London is already a money laundering machine as is - removing the European shackles of oppression will allow it to thrive even more! Arab, Asians, Europeans - they all flock to the UK to park their cash. That's one aspect -
Now banking? It's going to be a tough one as both the US and the UK will start deregulating in a near future. Hong Kong, meh... It's had a massive boom, and now it's just slowing down.
My money is on London - Internet technology bull shit, there is a reason why all the startups are in SF, proximity still matters. I need to be close to Mayfair to sell and do deals or whatever equivalent there is in NY or HK

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Sep 6, 2017

Base compensation for Bulge Bracket IBs would be the same - global pay scheme. Although bonus might differ slightly.

Sep 6, 2017

i thought they will be different(?). is Bullish talking it's same when relocating to HK from US office?
i think starting for HK analyst is HKD$40k to $50k / mth. (exchange rate 1USD = 8 HKD approx)

not sure about associate.

Sep 6, 2017

Pay will be the same for HK analysts working in a bulge. If you are getting USD$60K base in the US, you will get that equivalent in HKD. The global pay scheme goes for other places as well such as London and Singapore.

Sep 6, 2017

HK is a great place i would think to work. sorry dont know much about World Wide pay scales

Mar 27, 2017

Do they have Chipotle in HK? God I love Chipotle.

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Mar 27, 2017
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