A World Of Opulence Awaits At Galaxy Macau

Galaxy Entertainment Group (GEG) completed the third expansion phase of Galaxy Macau last December, officially unveiling the Galaxy International Convention Center, Galaxy Arena, Andaz Macau and Raffles at Galaxy Macau. This marks a significant milestone, solidifying Galaxy Macau’s position as the premier integrated resort destination for both leisure and business travelers.

Galaxy Macau offers a one-stop resort experience.

Embodying the service philosophy of “World-class, Asian heart,” Galaxy Macau seamlessly blends culture, entertainment, culinary delights and leisure experiences all under one roof. It boasts a state-of-the-art convention venue, a 16,000-seat multi-purpose indoor arena, eight luxury hotels, over 120 dining establishments and more than 200 international luxury brands. The Skytop Oasis—Grand Resort Deck, exclusively for all hotel guests, is a sprawling 75,000-square-meter recreational space offering white sand beaches, water attractions such as the Skytop Adventure River Ride, Skytop Wave Pool and a kid’s aquatic play zone, dining venues, the picturesque Skytop Garden and more.

Grand Resort Deck (left) is exclusively for all hotel guests at Galaxy Macau, while Galaxy Promenade (right) offers a world-class shopping experience with over 200 luxury brands.

Galaxy International Convention Center

The Galaxy International Convention Center sets a new standard for Macau’s MICE sector.

The Galaxy International Convention Center (GICC), spanning 40,000 square meters, sets a new standard for Macau’s Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) sector. It features cutting-edge conference facilities and offers tailored planning services. With flexible MICE space, the venue can host grand banquets for up to 8,500 guests or cocktail parties for up to 16,000 guests. The 10,000-square-meter, pillarless exhibition hall accommodates up to 7,000 delegates.

The Galaxy Auditorium, equipped with advanced audio-visual systems and top-notch acoustics, is ideal for keynote sessions, opening ceremonies, cultural and musical performances and product launches.

Seamlessly connected to Galaxy Macau, the GICC positions itself as the preferred destination for global business meetings and exhibitions, with all the necessary MICE services and facilities conveniently housed under one roof.

Galaxy Arena

Galaxy Arena, located within the GICC, is the largest indoor arena in Macau, boasting a seating capacity of 16,000. This versatile venue can accommodate various events, from large-scale conferences and exhibitions to entertainment, music and sports, aligning with the government’s vision of promoting Macau as a “City of Performing Arts” and “City of Sports.”

BLACKPINK held two consecutive shows at the Galaxy Arena in 2023.

Since its opening in April 2023, the venue has welcomed over 100 performers, including K-pop group BLACKPINK, global megastar Jackson Wang and Cantopop diva Kelly Chen. Notably, it hosted the annual star-studded award show iQIYI Scream Night and GEG’s 2023 Yao Foundation Charity Game, which saw former NBA player Yao Ming gracing the event.

Andaz Macau

Andaz Macau is the largest hotel within the Andaz brand worldwide, serving as the brand’s exclusive property in Macau. With direct connection to the GICC and Galaxy Arena, Andaz Macau offers convenience for both business and leisure travelers.

Boasting over 700 meticulously designed rooms and suites, the hotel embodies a seamless blend of Macanese and Portuguese cultural heritage with a contemporary flair. Throughout the property, guests will discover a thoughtfully curated collection of artwork, including artifacts, paintings, installations and bespoke objet d’art, paying homage to Macau’s vibrant history and diverse influences.

Andaz Macau features a vibrant lifestyle concept rooted in local art and culture.

The all-day Andaz Kitchen, led by Executive Chef André Lai, invites diners on a culinary adventure, featuring authentic Macanese and Portuguese flavors. Meanwhile, at Andaz Bar, Mixologist Shobit Shetty crafts innovative cocktails inspired by his experiences at some of Asia’s top bars.

Raffles at Galaxy Macau

The renowned Singaporean brand stays true to its legendary essence, offering an unparalleled luxurious experience at Raffles at Galaxy Macau. This expansive property stands as the largest all-suite Raffles establishment globally, with approximately 450 tastefully furnished suites. Elevating the guest experience further, the hotel’s renowned butler service offers thoughtful yet discreet assistance.

Raffles at Galaxy Macau raises the bar for luxury hospitality.

Guests are greeted by a series of artwork at the hotel lobby, themed around the four seasons. These art pieces beautifully capture the splendor of nature and the changing seasons. On the culinary front, guests can indulge in European favorites throughout the day, prepared by Chef Yorick Soh, who brings his expertise from Michelin-starred restaurants. Additionally, sushi lovers can look forward to an exclusive new sushi concept, led by renowned three-Michelin-starred Masaaki Miyakawa. The iconic Long Bar is also scheduled to open soon, offering guests the opportunity to try the “Macau Sling” cocktail, created in collaboration with noted Asia’s 50 Best Bars legend, Antonio Lai.

With these offerings and more, Galaxy Macau solidifies its status as a world-class destination. It marks a new chapter for the MICE industry and bolsters Macau’s “tourism+” cross-sectoral development strategy.

galaxymacau.com

48 Hours In Bangkok

 

As one of Southeast Asia’s most popular travel destinations, Bangkok captivates both regular visitors and first-time explorers with its vibrant street markets, luxury megamalls and lively entertainment scene. Beyond its bustling exterior lies a profound spiritual essence reflected through its hundreds of temples. Wat Traimit stands out as the home to what is said to be the world’s largest Buddha statue, made entirely of pure gold and weighing over five tons.

If you’re looking for a quick city getaway with a dose of culture, here’s the perfect itinerary for a long weekend of pampering—made even better with exclusive perks for The Platinum Card Members.

FRIDAY

Morning

Check in for your Singapore Airlines/Scoot flight at Singapore Changi Airport. As a Platinum Member, you enjoy S$200 (US$149) Airline Credit annually with qualifying spends on Singapore Airlines or Scoot.

Begin your vacation with exclusive lounge privileges. The American Express Global Lounge Collection® provides access to more than 1,400 lounges across 650 cities. You and one of your supplementary Card Members are welcome to bring one guest each on each visit, making it ideal for family vacations. Enjoy light refreshments or catch up on last-minute emails in comfort before you unplug for the weekend.

Afternoon

When it comes to upscale accommodation, Bangkok offers a myriad of choices, from private villas and boutique properties to heritage hotels. Looking for a romantic stay? Check into Banyan Tree Bangkok, among selected properties, and indulge in a complimentary one-night stay. The contemporary-designed rooms feature a blend of rich dark woods, neutral colors and distinctive Thai accents. Don’t miss the rooftop Moon Bar—perched 61 floors above the city—for cocktails and stunning sunset views.

For a touch of opulence, consider the Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok, a plush resort-inspired haven nestled in the heart of the urban jungle. As part of the Fine Hotels + Resorts collection, Members can enjoy early check-in and a room upgrade when available. Wake up to complimentary breakfast for two and receive a unique amenity valued at US$100. The cherry on top? A guaranteed 4 p.m. late check-out, allowing you more time to savor your luxurious stay.

COMO Metropolitan Bangkok is perfect for those who prefer urban-style chic. As a Platinum Card Member, bypass the S$50,000 (US$37,205) spend requirement and enjoy a complimentary upgrade to Comoclub’s C5 membership tier for 12 months, offering perks such as early check-in, late check-out, complimentary breakfast for two and more. Pamper yourself with a welcome massage and energize your mornings with complimentary yoga sessions at the hotel’s wellness center COMO Shambhala. You will also enjoy preferential rates at over 40 Club21 stores around the city.

Evening

Fire up your appetite at Le Du, a one Michelin-star, modern Thai restaurant which topped Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2023. Choose between 4-course and 6-course tasting menus, featuring locally sourced, seasonal ingredients prepared using modern techniques and global influences. Let Platinum Concierge, a 24/7 ser­vice, handle your restaurant reservations.

After dinner, explore Silom, lined with hotels, restaurants, bars and malls. While it is part of Bangkok’s central business district, Silom is also a popular entertainment spot.

SATURDAY 

Morning

Explore Ari, a relaxed and green neighborhood favored by the artsy crowd. Stroll down streets lined with art galleries, matcha bars, coffee shops and trendy restaurants. The aromas wafting from Landhaus Bakery, a hidden gem, will lure you in. Enjoy freshly baked pastries and coffee in the shade of the garden. Another option for your caffeine fix is Nana Coffee Roasters, a spacious café spanning two floors.

Looking for some cool threads? Check out Hide.Selected, a multi-label indie store featuring a carefully curated selection of men’s and women’s wear from both local designers and well-known brands.

Afternoon

A cruise down the Chao Phraya River, which runs through the heart of Bangkok, is an ideal and relaxing way to see the city. Hop off to visit a temple or two along the way, such as Wat Saket (The Golden Mount), a historic temple perched on a hill. If you’re up for it, climb over 300 stairs for panoramic city views.

Stop for lunch at the iconic Blue Elephant Restaurant to enjoy traditional Thai flavors with the Platinum Dining Credit. Housed in a colonial-style mansion on Sathon Road, the restaurant is a stalwart of the Bangkok culinary scene. The Blue Elephant offers cooking classes on its premises—try your hand at preparing a few Thai classics to really understand Thailand’s popular cuisine.

Platinum Members can enjoy dining credits at selected restaurants worldwide. Receive up to S$400 (US$298) in statement credits each calendar year, comprising S$200 (US$149) for use at over 25 restaurants in Singapore and S$200 (US$149) for use at over 2,000 restaurants abroad, when you dine at some of the world’s best restaurants. 

Cap off your day of sightseeing with a pampering spa session at Banyan Tree Spa, known for its exceptional service and quality treatments. Relax and let your stresses melt away with the signature 150-minute Royal Banyan treatment. 

Evening

Make your final dinner in the heart of Bangkok a truly unforgettable experience. Platinum provides a carefully curated selection of Michelin-starred establishments worldwide. Paste Bangkok, for instance, serves up dishes inspired by Thai royal cuisine and heritage cookbooks, while also incorporating its unique creative spin.

Afterward, make your way to the sophisticated BKK Social Club at the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok for a nightcap. Ranked 13th on The World’s 50 Best Bars 2023 list and hailed as The Best Bar in Asia, BKK Social Club combines the glamor of Buenos Aires with the dynamic spirit of Bangkok. Indulge in the exquisite Evita, a limited-time-only cocktail paying homage to the iconic former first lady of Argentina.

SUNDAY

Morning

Begin your final day in Bangkok early to maximize your remaining hours in the city. Song Wat, a historic area located just off Chinatown, is home to heritage buildings and traditional shops and eateries coexisting harmoniously with trendy cafes and stylish art galleries. Capture some captivating shots, especially before the crowds arrive. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before making your way back to the hotel to freshen up for your return flight. Head to the Miracle First Class Lounge at Suvarnabhumi Airport for a glass of wine or light bites before boarding.

This itinerary is complemented with a comprehensive worldwide travel insurance for peace of mind as you enjoy your weekend getaway. And just like that, your time in Bangkok is well taken care of by Platinum.


The benefits mentioned in this article pertain to The Platinum Card issued in Singapore. For cards issued in other countries, please visit their respective websites.  Find out more about The Platinum Card® today at go.amex/sg-fbasia.

 

go.amex/sg-fbasia

 

Cloud 11 Positions Bangkok As Asia’s Largest Hub For Content Creators

Magnolia Quality Development Corporation Limited (MQDC), one of the leading property developers in Thailand, believes its soon-to-be-launched Cloud 11 has what it takes to help realize the full potential of the creative industry in Thailand.

According to MQDC Senior Vice President Onza Janyaprasert, there are many world-class creative talents in Bangkok. Based on data by the Creative Economy Agency, the creative industry contributed close to 10% of Thailand’s gross domestic product pre-pandemic. “Clearly, there’s a lot of creative talent in the country. However, the sector is fragmented,” says Janyaprasert, who is also the Project Director of Cloud 11. “We hope to develop Cloud 11 into a hub for creative industry talents—a place where we can empower them to achieve greater things.”

Asia’s Largest Hub for Content Creators 

Cloud 11 is a 40-billion-baht (US$1.14 billion) project in Bangkok developed to help grow the region’s creative industry and position Thailand as Asia’s largest hub for content creators.

Construction is currently underway, with the topping out ceremony slated for the second quarter of 2024. The official launch is on track to take place in the fourth quarter of this year.

Designed by the world-renowned architectural studio Snøhetta, Cloud 11 will have seven key components, including Grade A+ office spaces, content production studios, a retail complex, lifestyle hotels, concert halls and Bangkok’s largest rooftop park. It will also have an education zone to house entertainment and media schools, content academies and incubation facilities for content creators.

Janyaprasert says MQDC is partnering with Thailand’s telco True Corporation to offer Cloud 11 one of the fastest fiber optic connections in the country.

He adds, “Cloud 11 has many unique features. For example, the workspaces we are building are not generic offices; they are purpose-built for the content industry with dedicated circulation for artists and creators. We also understand that people in the creative industry have different working hours, so Cloud 11 will implement a district cooling system, allowing for flexible air-conditioning for our tenants.”

Building an Ecosystem

Janyaprasert says the reason behind these key features is about building an ecosystem for the creative community, one that allows content creators to have access to the best-in-class technology, as well as provide them with funding and business opportunities.

“Cloud 11 is not merely a real estate project,” he says. “It is not about the building. It is about creating an ecosystem with the creator community at its heart.”

He adds that content creation and entertainment have evolved beyond two dimensional formats. Today, content can be created by leveraging technologies such as Web 3.0, metaverse and blockchain. Cloud 11 will offer the space, funding opportunity, talent and state-of-the-art equipment for content creators.”

The development and concept of Cloud 11 have garnered a positive response from the creative community. “They are glad to see a hub for the community. A place where content creators, musicians and even gamers can be together, to collaborate and create more value together,” Janyaprasert says.

So far, Cloud 11 has attracted several anchor tenants, including market hall operator and community space specialist theCOMMONS, tech-led hotel group Yotel and Marriott International.

“We are also in talks with leading entertainment companies and a few studio partners and academies from Hollywood and South Korea. The details will be announced later this year,” he says.

There will also be a scriptwriting academy at Cloud 11 to groom and support aspiring writers in the creative industry. “Thailand is good at post-production work. However, we need more original content. With the academy, we can produce more original content and export it to the world,” Janyaprasert says. “Hopefully, one day Cloud 11 can be a hub for Asian creators to collaborate.” 

www.cloud11bangkok.com

Redefining Wealth Management: Going Beyond Private Banking With Wealth Continuum Vision

Lok Yim, Regional Head of HSBC Global Private Banking, Asia Pacific

With its unparalleled global network, full-service best-in-class personal to private banking capabilities and over 158 years of expertise in wealth management, HSBC can provide tailored solutions to meet the diverse needs of Asia’s wealthy in a way that is unmatched in the region.

HSBC Global Private Banking’s new regional head for Asia-Pacific, Lok Yim, outlined the bank’s approach to service its globally-minded clientele with complex, cross-border private wealth and business needs. Indeed, some 85% of entrepreneurs in Asia are looking beyond borders for business opportunities, while nearly 50% of Asia’s entrepreneurial families have a presence in more than one market, often driven through direct investments, real estate or education for their children, according to HSBC’s Global Entrepreneurial Wealth Report 2023 (GEWR).

“The client experience we offer is across the full wealth continuum to meet client needs at every key stage of their lifecycle. It goes beyond private banking, encompassing the full spectrum of HSBC’s products and services across Wealth and Personal Banking, Commercial Banking and Global Banking and Markets, to deliver tailored solutions and open up wealth and business growth opportunities for our clients in all the countries where we can support them,” says Yim.

HSBC Global Private Banking’s global network spans over 40 countries and territories, with 13 strategic booking centres. Leveraging the bank’s global presence, its clients can access banking services seamlessly in leading international financial centres and diversify their wealth globally.

The bank’s ability to provide consistent services across different geographies is reflected in its global relationship manager model, who acts as a single contact point and coordinates with other divisions of the bank to deliver a seamless client service internationally.

Moreover, HSBC’s on-the-ground presence in multiple jurisdictions enables it to offer local expertise for clients who are expanding internationally. Whether it’s helping a client in Hong Kong establish a supply chain in Saudi Arabia, or advising on Sharia-compliant financial products, HSBC’s local teams offer invaluable insights and advice.

Empowering the Future: Meeting Next-Generation Needs

Succession planning is an increasingly urgent issue for many entrepreneurs in the region. According to GEWR, some 69% of the respondents in Asia are yet to discuss their wealth plans with their family, while 46% of former entrepreneurs wish they could have consulted more with their family before their exit from the business.

With a new generation set to take over the reins of Asia’s wealthiest families, HSBC Global Private Banking’s dedicated wealth planning and advisory team provides bespoke solutions in wealth and succession planning, trust services, philanthropy, family office and sustainability, and customised mandates based on each family’s unique culture, values and vision for the future. The team plays a role as an adviser, facilitating open and early dialogue within the families, helping to smooth the process of multigenerational wealth transfer.

Being one of the longest-serving trustee businesses in Asia, HSBC Trustee has over 75 years of experience working with some of the most sophisticated families globally, building bridges across generations of wealth and preserving legacy across geographies. Families with global interests can benefit from HSBC Trustee’s international coverage spanning Hong Kong, Singapore, Delaware, New York in the U.S. and Jersey in the Channel Islands.

As a new generation of ultra-high net worth individuals emerge, Yim notes that HSBC Global Private Banking is adapting its services to meet the increasing sophistication of these younger clients. They are keen to professionalise the management of their business and wealth, seeking everything from access to institutional-grade services and investment opportunities to credit solutions.

Meanwhile, today’s affluent are looking to grow their wealth purposefully, which includes incorporating Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) considerations into their investment decisions. Increasingly, a new generation of clients are paying closer attention to social and governance issues, in addition to environmental ones. Having gained an understanding of their motivations and ambitions, HSBC Global Private Banking’s expertise supports these clients in realising their desired outcomes through philanthropy or impact investing.

Elevating Experiences with High-Touch, High-Tech Solutions

Technology plays an increasingly pivotal role in delivering HSBC’s services to its private banking clients. In this regard, the bank has adopted a hybrid model that combines high-touch, personalised service with digital solutions, ensuring clients can engage with the bank in a manner that suits them best.

Whether it’s performing analytics on their portfolio, executing trades or simply managing day-to-day banking needs, clients have the flexibility to interact with their relationship managers and investment counsellors securely through HSBC’s digital platforms.

The bank’s digital concierge service exemplifies this hybrid approach, assisting clients in navigating the bank’s technological offerings and enhancing their experience. This service caters to clients who value both the efficiency of digital solutions and the personal touch of human interaction.

“Our view on technology is to make the client experience as seamless as possible in a way that works for them. We’re not insisting that clients use the digital tools we provide, but if they prefer to use them and find it makes their lives easier, these options are available,” says Yim.

Clients can also take advantage of HSBC’s strong presence in its Asia home market of Hong Kong, which serves as an international wealth hub, as well as a gateway to mainland China and the rest of the region. The bank’s global network and expertise in wealth management enable its private banking team to provide both local residents and international clients unparalleled service and support.

Yim adds, “I believe that no other bank, especially in Asia, can offer a seamless continuum of services for private banking clients like HSBC does and connect them to all the markets we operate in globally, and for their generations to come.”

privatebanking.hsbc.com


Disclaimer

The information contained in this article has not been reviewed in the light of your individual circumstances and is for information purposes only. It does not purport to provide legal, taxation or other advice and should not be taken as such. No client or other reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of the content of this article without seeking specific professional advice. Issued by The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited.

Elevator Pitch Competition 2024 Propels Startup Success From Hong Kong To Asia And The World

U.S. venture capital fell a staggering 60% in 2023, compared to the previous year. This sharp decline continues to cast a shadow of uncertainty over startups heavily reliant on such financial backing to sustain their growth.

But breaking out from this prevailing global venture capital winter, Asia has emerged as a beacon of hope, offering a compelling alternative and a blue ocean of stability and opportunities. With a more “ecosystem-led” approach that aligns public and private sector focus for innovation, Asian markets are charting another path that veers from Silicon Valley’s free-for-all model that has historically fuelled its success.

Hong Kong: Embracing Asia’s Unique Innovation Approach

In contrast to the economic and political uncertainty in the traditional innovation engines of the U.S. and Europe, Asia, with its developed markets of Hong Kong and Singapore, offers a haven of stability and resilience. Both Singapore and Hong Kong possess well-established innovation ecosystems and highly supportive government policies to bolster innovation development. The latter has the advantage of geographic proximity to mainland China, making it the ideal launchpad to the enormous Chinese market. The Shenzhen-Hong Kong-Guangzhou science and technology cluster is ranked No. 2 in the world for global patents filed, according to the Global Innovation Index 2023.

High-flying startup representative gears up for the live elevator pitch at EPiC.

Hong Kong stands out with its unique mix of an ecosystem-led innovation environment combined with a legacy of vibrant entrepreneurial freedom, spirit and success. With public and private sector support, all aligned with national policy and direction, Hong Kong’s innovation model reduces risk and uncertainty and provides stability for tech ventures to thrive, even in the face of declining global startup funding.

EPiC 2024: The Ideal Launchpad to Supercharge Startups

Today, Hong Kong is riding a wave of transformative startup activity, and the rise of the annual global Elevator Pitch Competition (EPiC), organised by Hong Kong Science & Technology Parks (HKSTP), is symbolic of the city’s meteoric growth. EPiC stands out as an iconic “mega international event” alongside the city’s global events, such as the Hong Kong Sevens, drawing record numbers of international entrepreneurs. Tech startups from all corners of the world will join EPiC 2024 to expand their footprint into Asia and gain exposure to over 1,000 investors and 350 corporate partners from Hong Kong’s largest innovation ecosystem at HKSTP.

Past Pitch Champs Set the World Alight

EPiC reduces market entry barriers and supercharges early-stage tech startups to thrive in Asia’s unique innovation environment quickly. To achieve this, HKSTP connects startups with trailblazing world-leading industry experts, visionary entrepreneurs and pioneering researchers, providing the best growth and investment opportunities, says Dr Sunny Chai, Chairman of Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks.

Two previously unknown ventures—Archireef and Ultipa—are great examples of the impact that EPiC can have on the startup road to success. Both have emerged from their EPiC experiences with reputations enhanced and financial standing boosted.

Archireef, champion of EPiC 2021, is a nature-tech company dedicated to providing eco-engineering solutions for active restoration and fostering nature-positivity in the future of marine ecosystems, spanning from shorelines to coral reefs. The homegrown Hong Kong-based startup is on a meteoric rise, going from obscurity and no hope of funding to making waves with deals and partnerships at the recent COP28 in Dubai.

“Since clinching the EPiC 2021 award, our trajectory has been nothing short of exhilarating. We are thrilled about the prospects ahead, which fuels our commitment to restoring marine ecosystems,” says Vriko Yu, Archireef’s Cofounder and CEO. “Currently, we operate in both Hong Kong and the UAE, having successfully deployed over 500 of our Reef Tiles across these regions. Our growth is continuous, and we’ve seen revenue increase by eight times in Q4 2023.”

Acknowledging the pivotal role that the HKSTP ecosystem has played in the company’s journey, Yu is grateful for access to a diverse pool of talent and expertise, both locally and internationally. The HKSTP incubation programs proved instrumental in not only refining Archireef’s business model but also facilitating the transition of academic research into commercially viable solutions.

Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks’ EPiC 2024 contest connects innovation ecosystems to propel startups to new heights.

The company has since undergone rapid expansion and garnered significant acclaim and awards from esteemed entities such as the World Economic Forum, IUCN, Forbes Asia, Bloomberg and Geneva Inventions. The innovative startup is also supported by an Abu Dhabi-based investment and holding company, along with venture capital firms based in Singapore.

Hong Kong Sparks China and Asia Success for Global Startup

Another successful EPiC participant, Ultipa, is the Silicon Valley-originated developer of a high-performance graph database system. Selected as one of the 10 finalists in EPiC 2023, the firm is looking to expand its business to the mainland China market and more broadly across Asia. The proximity to Shenzhen, along with the seamless resources provided by Hong Kong and HKSTP for startup expansion and growth, were key factors influencing Ultipa’s decision to choose HKSTP as its starting point in Asia.

“HKSTP provides business matching, investment referrals, exclusive membership of a city-wide and cross-industry virtual lab, access to co-working space as well as an extensive talent pool by reaching out to Hong Kong’s renowned universities,” says Monica Liu, Founder and COO of Ultipa.

“We found that EPiC is a global and valuable platform and probably the fastest track for our AI solutions to expand to the Greater Bay Area and Asia-Pacific markets,” Liu says.

Dr Sunny Chai, Chairman of Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation

The firm’s cutting-edge graph technology incorporates AI acceleration, augmentation and explainability, which is powered by its unique next-gen horizontally scalable graph computing and storage engine. Ultipa’s team has delivered industry-leading computing experiences for the world’s top banks and financial institutions. Its cutting-edge solution has won international acclaim as winner of the 2023 Banking Technology Awards (UK) in the category of “Tech of the Future – AI and Data.”

Record-Level Funding Marks Hong Kong’s Golden I&T Era

EPiC steers startups to success by directly plugging them into the HKSTP innovation ecosystem, which offers accelerated pathways to commercializing research and development ideas, securing investor interests and matching with potential customers. Its nurturing ecosystem also offers mentorship for early-stage tech startups to thrive and leverage the distinctive advantages that the Asian market has to offer.

Hong Kong has witnessed the birth of 12 unicorns and venture capital investment has substantially increased from around HK$1.2 billion (US$153 million) to about HK$40 billion (US$5.1 billion) from 2014 to 2021. The expanding investment in Hong Kong’s innovation and technology (I&T) ecosystem is gaining global recognition.

The UN Conference on Trade and Development’s Technology and Innovation Report 2023, for example, ranks Hong Kong 9th on the global Frontier Technologies Readiness Index, up from 15th place in 2021.

Last year, EPiC attracted more than 600 applications from 55 economies, with 75% from overseas markets, all vying for a chance of a US$5 million investment and US$210,000 cash prize. A semi-final has already taken place in Silicon Valley, with subsequent semi-finals scheduled in Singapore, Hong Kong and Stuttgart. The 72 finalists for this year’s EPiC will be announced in March, with the Grand Finale set to take place on April 26, 2024. The worthy finalists will be launched up the city’s tallest skyscraper, while trying to sell their winning business ideas literally in a challenging and exciting 60-second elevator ride to the Sky100 venue at the top of the International Commerce Centre. All applicants of EPiC 2024 target to arrange US$45 million investment1 , US$240,000 in cash prizes, plus extensive partnership opportunities. The Grand Finale is expected to feature 80% international finalists and 20% local Hong Kong finalists, making it a truly global contest.

LEFT: On the right, Vriko Yu, Cofounder and CEO, Archireef with Albert Wong, CEO of HKSTP at EPiC 2023 RIGHT: Monica Liu, Founder and COO of Ultipa

“Hong Kong is entering a truly golden age of innovation and technology. With EPiC reaching iconic status in the innovation community, this is the ideal time for entrepreneurs to fuel global ambitions with the ‘Grow Fast Go Beyond’ ethos that drives this annual mega event and initiative,” says HKSTP’s Chai. “We are on a mission to connect the world’s innovation ecosystems to propel success. Now is the right time and Hong Kong is the right place to kickstart the innovation journey.”

360-Degree Support from Leading I&T Community

To date, HKSTP has directly supported over 1,300 ventures in their growth journey, with over 3,000 investment matchings, HK$90.9 billion (US$11.6 billion) raised by park companies and HK$1 billion (US$127.9 million) directly invested by the HKSTP Venture Fund.

Professor Sun Dong, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Innovation, Technology and Industry, highlights the importance of supporting and grooming startups to build a vibrant I&T ecosystem in Hong Kong.

“The Hong Kong Innovation and Technology Development Blueprint shows the government’s dedication to cultivating a vibrant I&T ecosystem. The Innovation, Technology and Industry Bureau is committed to offering comprehensive support to startups at their different stages of development,” Sun says.

Sun notes that in line with the government’s direction to develop Hong Kong into an international I&T centre, EPiC provides invaluable opportunities for knowledge sharing, networking and collaboration among leading experts, entrepreneurs and investors from around the world, which are essential for driving innovation and fostering the growth of technology startups.

The impact of these initiatives goes beyond individual startups, says Sun. The collaboration among startups, established companies, research institutions and government agencies has resulted in a thriving ecosystem that fosters innovation, knowledge exchange and technology transfer.

“The government will continue to work closely with all stakeholders with a view to realising Hong Kong’s vision as an international I&T hub,” Sun adds.

Looking ahead to 2024, Asia is set to lead the world in GDP, with Hong Kong at the heart of this growing region and primed to provide ambitious entrepreneurs with a supportive ecosystem that fosters growth and enhances resilience.

As Hong Kong continues to pave the way for I&T, EPiC 2024 serves as a testament to the city’s dedication to fostering growth, collaboration and success for tech startups. With its vibrant ecosystem, transparent regulations, and access to a vast talent pool, Hong Kong stands at the forefront of the global tech landscape, offering unparalleled opportunities for entrepreneurs to thrive and transform their ideas into reality and success.︱epic.hkstp.org

1Investors (including funds managed by HKSTP CVF, Beyond Ventures, BitRock Capital, Gaw Capital, HKX, InnoAngel, Jafco Asia, Mindworks Capital and Radiant Tech Ventures) will consider investing in applicants (subject to terms and conditions to be agreed between the parties).

Enchantment Behind Closed Doors At St. Martin

Richard Mille has always understood the importance of delighting and inspiring its dedicated base of customers and fans. The watchmaker’s track record for innovation, design and engineering speaks for itself—any endeavor associated with the brand is one pursued to perfection.

When the opportunity arose to expand its retail presence in Singapore, Richard Mille seized the moment to usher in a new chapter—one that would better articulate its spirit and values while redefining known boundaries of the bespoke customer experience.

Beyond delivering expertise through horological masterpieces, the optimal customer environment would set the stage for the creation of unforgettable personal moments—a move meriting a critical revaluation and reimagination of the entire customer experience.

Turning Concept Into Reality

From the very beginning, it was decided that such an environment would feature a mosaic of materials and influences and serve as a vibrant living space that was as elegant as it was exclusive. An environment not unlike the Prohibition-era clubs where discretion and secrecy were the order of the day. As with these speakeasies, an unassuming façade would conceal a surprising venue deeper within. This is the unambiguous allure of St. Martin, Richard Mille’s new flagship venue situated on a generous 700-square-meter site within the Orchard Road district.

“This venue awakens emotions and elevates the art of hospitality so dear to Richard Mille, thanks in particular to an innovative vision,” says Amanda Mille, Brand and Partnerships Director at Richard Mille. “Bespoke design and innovation are harnessed to serve conviviality. Everyone should be able to feel entirely at ease and relaxed in the spaces. As always, a sense of family, encounters and watchmaking know-how are at the heart of what we do.”

To create such an ambience, a bespoke approach would be the rule and not the exception. The vast majority of the furniture and decorative elements were created and designed specifically for St. Martin. Behind the scenes, the brand’s in-house architecture team labored for three consecutive years to turn concept into reality. Nearly 30 specialists contributed to the layout and decoration of the different spaces. From leather to wood, metal, stone and glass, over 250 material variations would be employed before the project was deemed complete.

Elevating the Art of Hospitality

While every artisan called upon was keen to surpass their own limits to meet the requirements of this unique space, the highlight of St. Martin is undoubtedly the work of French visual artist William Amor—an olive tree that takes root at the center of the Hub, the nerve center of St. Martin. Amor’s work embodies loyalty and resilience while evoking the Mediterranean basin so dear to Richard Mille.

“The architectural organization of St. Martin creates a feeling of astonishment at not having guessed such a space could exist behind this door,” adds Alexandre Mille, Brand Director. “Discovering it makes you wonder what the next surprise will be. Our intention was to play with visitors’ expectations.”

The Hub is also home to a majestic library characterized by curved lines that hosts a broad and eclectic range of works linked to the brand’s sources of inspiration—cars, art, sport, cinema, music, architecture, history, aeronautics and science. Enveloping this space is a gorgeous circular, floor-to-ceiling wine cellar constructed of curved glass and designed to store Grand Cru wines in optimal conditions.

A watchmaker’s workbench lies just beyond where a watchmaker is always on hand to answer customer queries or provide after-sales service. From the Hub, the journey within St. Martin extends to the Crafting Space, the Restaurant, the Bar, the Sport bar, the Riad and the Hidden Library. Each space is truly distinct, commanding its own identity and evoking stories and memories of travel, history and culture.

An indisputable tour de force of design, St. Martin promises to be both destination and journey—a source of diverse experiences and emotions, and the sharing of know-how and passion in an atmosphere of conviviality and exquisite hospitality.

Richard Mille St. Martin is located at 1 St. Martin’s Drive, Singapore 257988.


www.richardmille.com

Elegance With A Dash Of Intensity

Henry Jacques has been handcrafting the world’s finest perfumes for close to five decades. In an industry well-known for its adherence to tradition, the bespoke French perfumer has always stood apart by virtue of its penchant for driving innovation in the olfactory arts.

The 2021 launch of Clic-Clac, a contemporary object that houses a solid perfume capsule, perfectly captures the DNA of Henry Jacques and symbolizes the maison’s synchronicity of innovation and heritage.

Successful innovative endeavors, however, do not always come from within. Core to Henry Jacques’ efforts to drive creative growth have been its collaborations with style icons and cultural trendsetters. Only last year, the haute parfumerie maison unveiled In All Intimacy—a collection of three extraordinary perfumes made for tennis legend Rafael Nadal and his wife María Perelló.

The couple worked closely with Henry Jacques to channel their hearts, tastes and connection to the Mediterranean into the three unique fragrances that comprise In All Intimacy. In developing the collection, Nadal and Perelló drew inspiration from the scents that defined their home in Mallorca—orange blossom, citrus, bergamot, jasmine, lavender and thyme.

A Prized Collectible

Taking this successful collaboration to the next phase, Henry Jacques is pleased to announce the launch of a limited edition Clic-Clac designed exclusively for Rafael Nadal himself—the Clic-Clac Rafael Nadal Edition.

This version retains the minimalist, avant-garde lines of the Clic-Clac, along with the use of grade 5 titanium for the outer case. What sets the Rafael Nadal Edition apart is the sweeping accent line in the distinct shade evocative of a tennis ball. A subtle dash of color that could very well turn a cult favorite into a prized collectible.

With a form factor reminiscent of the archetypal lighter, Clic-Clac is intuitively recognizable as an heirloom-grade companion. One that marks its owner as an individual of means and subtlety. A swift flick of the wrist opens the case to reveal the capsule-encased balm. Owners can now select a capsule-encased fragrance from any of 50 available across the core Classiques collection. These include the couple’s range of personalized scents such as the Rafael Nadal No. 1, Rafael Nadal No. 2 and Maria Perello.

Unlike traditional perfumes, Clic-Clac was designed from the beginning to be an intimate and portable daily companion—one that could be tucked comfortably into a pocket or slipped into a handbag. More than an accessory, Clic-Clac was also conceived to serve as your personal talisman—an inseparable objet d’art that, over the course of time, would evoke joy and rekindle memories at every touch.

The launch of the Clic-Clac Rafael Nadal Edition also commemorates the completion of In All Intimacy since the perfumes are now available across the three forms true to the Henry Jacques philosophy—solid, spray (Les Brumes), and essences (Les Classiques).

For more information about the Clic-Clac Rafael Nadal Edition and the time-honored principles and craftsmanship that go into Henry Jacques perfumes, visit
parfumshenryjacques.com.

MUWA NISEKO: Unwind And Ski In Wellness Wonderland

Infinity onsen

In December 2023, MUWA, the luxury home and hospitality brand, unveiled MUWA NISEKO, situated on the powdery slopes of Niseko in Hokkaido, Japan. As one of the world’s top ski destinations, Niseko receives an annual snowfall ranging from 39 to 52 feet, providing about 120 days of ski trail operation. The fine quality of the powder is so iconic that it’s been dubbed Japow, short for Japan Powder.

Niseko, acknowledged globally as a winter haven for skiing enthusiasts attracted to its renowned powder snow, eagerly anticipates the imminent arrival of premier luxury resorts. The introduction of MUWA NISEKO is viewed as a significant milestone in the evolution of these upscale destinations, marking the onset of a new era in luxury experiences.

MUWA NISEKO, positioned as a premium wellness retreat, offers distinctive experiences rooted in its stunning natural surroundings and distinguished by its prominent location. Nestled in the Grand Hirafu area, MUWA NISEKO is a unique architectural marvel reminiscent of a mountain village right in the heart of Hokkaido, Japan. Thanks to its extraordinary location, guests not only enjoy picturesque landscapes but can also directly step into the famed “Niseko Powder” from the ski-in, ski-out room terraces.

After a day on the ski slopes, visitors have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the heart of MUWA NISEKO’s wellness offerings, which include an infinity onsen boasting picturesque views. The presence of Mount Yotei, often regarded as Niseko’s Mount Fuji, establishes a serene backdrop for relaxation and rejuvenation. Furthermore, the integration of a tea ceremony during the onsen experience introduces an exclusive dimension to well-being rarely found elsewhere. Customized spa services complete the all-encompassing therapeutic experience in an Eastern-inspired setting, addressing both physical and mental well-being.

MUWA NISEKO offers guests the chance to indulge in prestigious Michelin dining experiences from Japan, showcasing menus enriched with seasonal ingredients. The Italian all-day dining at HITO by Tacubo, curated by the owner-chef of Tokyo’s acclaimed Michelin one-star restaurant Tacubo since 2017, presents an exclusive opportunity. Additionally, patrons can partake in the 112-year legacy of SUKIYAKI HIYAMA, a Michelin one-star restaurant, acknowledged for a decade. Both venues provide meticulously crafted menus featuring locally sourced Hokkaido ingredients, ensuring a culinary experience of the highest caliber.

Guest suite with a view

MUWA NISEKO is poised to offer tailor-made tours through its dedicated concierge service. Carefully crafted to capture the essence of Niseko’s changing seasons, these excursions present opportunities for activities, culinary delights, and family-oriented adventures surrounded by nature. Beyond the winter allure, there are compelling reasons to explore MUWA NISEKO even during the summer months.

MUWA NISEKO features seven floors and a total of 113 rooms, providing exclusive advantages to guests like seasonal booking privileges and 24/7 concierge service. The accommodations come in diverse options, including direct slope access with ski-in, ski-out rooms, selections featuring secluded outdoor hot springs for enjoying Niseko’s scenic beauty, and luxurious penthouses in Grand Hirafu showcasing unmatched vistas and upscale amenities.

Comprehensive details regarding MUWA NISEKO, as well as inquiries pertaining to reservations and ownership, may be addressed through the official website.
Website: muwaniseko.com
Phone: +81-136-23-0955

 

Revitalizing Healthcare In The Region

Amid persistent economic challenges and geopolitical uncertainties, stress, burnout and deteriorating mental health are emerging as formidable challenges to global well-being and vitality. To address these obstacles, experts suggest that governments and organizations need to embrace a more comprehensive outlook on health to safeguard and enhance the welfare of their citizens and employees.

Indeed, the concept of health has evolved significantly in recent years, extending beyond physical wellness to encompass aspects of mental health, work and family life. In its latest global annual survey, health services company Cigna Healthcare surveyed more than 10,000 respondents across 12 diverse markets and covered a wider scope of factors impacting people’s sense of health and well-being, a concept it calls “vitality.”

The pandemic has clearly impacted people’s priorities, causing many to reevaluate what’s important to them.

Cigna Healthcare provides a range of health insurance and related products and services to individuals, companies and their employees, striving to enhance the health and vitality of those they serve. The company’s 2023 Vitality Study measured individuals across eight critical dimensions: social, occupational, financial, intellectual, physical, spiritual, emotional and environmental health.

The outcomes revealed a concerning trend. Developed economies, including Hong Kong and Singapore, reported lower vitality scores compared to the global average, contrasting with higher scores in mainland China, Africa and the Middle East. A mere 5% of respondents in Hong Kong and 10% in Singapore exhibited high levels of vitality, hinting at a potential linkage between the high demands of developed societies and decreased vitality levels.

Going Beyond Physical Health

The findings underscore a notable shift in how individuals perceive and prioritize various aspects of vitality including physical health. In Hong Kong and Singapore, while the majority placed physical health as their top priority, a significant portion felt ill-equipped with the necessary skills and tools to maintain a healthy life, pinpointing a crucial area for intervention by policymakers and employers.

In particular, mental well-being emerged as a pivotal yet threatened facet of vitality, with high vitality individuals reporting markedly better mental health compared to their low vitality counterparts. Stress and severe burnout remain prevalent in Hong Kong and Singapore, with 87% of people experiencing stress in both markets, outpacing the global average significantly. Financial concerns and uncertainties about the future are the major stressors, exacerbated by looming high global interest rates and geopolitical tensions.

Shifting Priorities

The pandemic has clearly impacted people’s priorities, causing many to reevaluate what’s important to them. The emerging trend of valuing personal health and close family relationships over well-paid jobs reflects this shift, with a notable proportion in Hong Kong and Singapore aspiring to early retirement, leading all the markets surveyed.

Employers are well-positioned to address many of these challenges. A significant portion of respondents from Hong Kong and Singapore expressed a desire for more support from their employers in living healthier lives. The vitality approach can act as a critical framework for employers to not only foster and protect employee health, but also align organizational objectives with the growing awareness and expectations surrounding holistic well-being.

As businesses seek to stay ahead of the competition in the face of substantial headwinds, they will need to prioritize their employees’ vitality as a means to retain and motivate talent. By providing employees with the support they need to be at their best and integrating this with organizational needs, companies can significantly improve their chances for success.

Innovating Healthcare Solutions

Jonathan Spiers, CEO, Cigna Healthcare Hong Kong, says the company is committed to not only upholding strong foundations that are built through a rich 90-year history of operations in Hong Kong, but it is also actively adapting to emerging trends and pushing the boundaries of innovation in the healthcare sector.

With a legacy spanning over 200 years globally, health benefits provider Cigna Worldwide General Insurance Company Limited (“Cigna Healthcare Hong Kong”) has become a key player in Asia-Pacific’s evolving wellness landscape. In Hong Kong, the company is celebrating 90 years of operations in 2023.

Having been recognized as one of the “Best Companies to Work for in Asia 2023 (Hong Kong)” for the fourth consecutive year and a “Most Caring Company” by HR Asia, Cigna Healthcare Hong Kong’s caring spirit is deeply ingrained in its culture. “We are a mission-led organization, dedicated to improving the health and vitality of those we serve, including our greatest asset—our people,” says Jonathan Spiers, CEO, Cigna Healthcare Hong Kong.

According to Cigna Healthcare’s 2023 Vitality Study, 72% of people in Hong Kong say that inflation is making it too expensive to stay healthy, and 66% of employees say they wish they had more support from their employer to live a healthier life.

To deliver on the company’s mission and support a community that is grappling with escalating healthcare costs, heightened by persistent inflation and rising demand for healthcare services through an aging population, Cigna Healthcare Hong Kong is investing more in key capabilities such as data analytics and clinical expertise. These investments will support continuous innovation in individual and group health plans, and help customers adopt a preventive health approach by detecting health problems early and improving health outcomes.

For individual customers, Cigna Healthcare Hong Kong offers a comprehensive range of healthcare services—from prevention and diagnosis to treatment and recovery. “Our health plans are designed to deliver value to our customers by maintaining best-in-market coverage, enabling them to receive unparalleled support and access to their preferred medical providers, as well as receiving timely care and support when they need it most,” says Spiers.

For group clients, Cigna Healthcare Hong Kong proactively promotes preventive care through its in-house wellness and clinical team, which regularly hosts events such as Wellness Days, based on their employees’ needs. A typical Wellness Day includes services such as health assessments, one-on-one clinician consultations and health-related workshops specific to the organization.

Cigna Healthcare Hong Kong’s care for its people and customers is recognized by different leading industry awards.

To help design and deliver the Wellness Days, Cigna’s Care Managers play an important role. Care Managers are Hong Kong-registered nurses with a wide range of clinical experience who will guide customers through clinical pathways. This includes identifying potential doctors for treatments, interpreting complex medical reports and delivering health education to help individuals improve their health and support their well-being.

Supporting the Healthcare System

Hong Kong is one of the longest-standing markets within Cigna International Health outside of the U.S., and the company is proud to have grown with the city throughout the years. Spiers says: “With a rich 90-year history in Hong Kong, we value our legacy of quality products and services, and our commitment to healthcare value and affordability through our customer focus, innovation and quality.

“As we look ahead, we are committed to not only upholding these strong foundations but also actively adding value to our services and products, adapting to emerging trends and pushing the boundaries of innovation in the healthcare sector. We are here for the long term.” www.cigna.com.hk

Advancing Healthcare Accessibility

In Singapore, Cigna Healthcare has also been leveraging innovation in order to provide comprehensive healthcare services that offer the most value to its clients. Since its establishment in 2011, Cigna Healthcare Singapore has developed a robust suite of healthcare solutions. In 2018, for instance, it piloted a telehealth solution that was aligned with Singapore’s Smart Nation vision of making healthcare more accessible to all.

Raymond Ng, CEO and Country Manager, Cigna Healthcare Singapore and Australia

In just over a decade since its inception, the company has already been recognized as one of the “Best Companies to Work for in Asia 2020 (Singapore)” by HR Asia, and was awarded the “Excellence in Women Empowerment Strategy” Gold accolade by HR Excellence in 2020.

To address the challenges of rising medical costs and an aging demographic, Cigna Healthcare Singapore works closely with its healthcare provider partners to negotiate better deals for its clients. The firm is also transitioning from its role as a claims payer to that of a health partner, enabling it to streamline the claims process and make it more cost-effective for its customers and patients in the long term.

“With the trend of rising medical costs likely to continue due to medical advancements and an increasingly aging population in this region, it is a huge priority for us to ensure that healthcare systems remain affordable and sustainable for everyone,” says Raymond Ng, CEO & Country Manager, Cigna Healthcare Singapore and Australia.

“We believe that preventive healthcare should be the future toward which we are all working. It helps in the early detection of potential health issues before they escalate into more severe conditions. Early intervention often leads to more effective and less costly treatments.”

Employing Technology for Better Outcomes

Cigna Healthcare Singapore is currently investing in healthcare innovation, particularly in data analytics and AI, given the opportunities to identify patterns and trends which can lead to potential cost-saving opportunities. For example, the company employs data analytics to make the underwriting process more efficient and deliver insurance pricing schemes that are better tailored to each individual.

Furthermore, Cigna Healthcare is currently exploring the use of AI-powered predictive analytics that can identify high-risk individuals, allowing the firm to proactively support them with preventive strategies, ultimately reducing long-term healthcare costs. To this end, the company continuously collaborate with other strategic players in the industry, such as digital health startups and telehealth providers, to further expand its reach and services.

Looking ahead, Cigna Healthcare Singapore is focused on expanding its product line to more effectively target local enterprises with a regional focus. “As we continue striving to be the health partner of choice for organizations and people around the world, we believe it is part of our role to inform and raise awareness among consumers about the changing healthcare landscape,” says Ng.

“This means working closely with our clients and partners to understand people’s needs, ensuring their healthcare demands are met, and helping organizations achieve better health and business outcomes.” www.cigna.com.sg

 


Disclaimer

The information contained in this article is for information only and does not represent the entire coverage or features of relevant insurance product(s). This article does not constitute a contract of insurance or an offer, invitation or solicitation to any person to enter into any contract of insurance. It does not constitute an offer to sell or solicitation to purchase or provision of any insurance product outside Hong Kong and Singapore. It does not purport to provide legal or other advice and should not be taken as such. No reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of the content of this article without seeking professional advice. Issued by Cigna Worldwide General Insurance Company Limited and Cigna Europe Insurance Company S.A.-N.V. Singapore Branch.

From A Southeast Asia Vantage Point: Stepping Out Of The Comforts Of Home-Bias Investing

We’ve all heard stories of entrepreneurs becoming very successful because of large, concentrated bets in a particular sector or asset class. Their success can be attributed to a strong local knowledge of their country and sector. However, their strength could turn out to be a weakness when it comes to investing.

Many entrepreneurs, whilst successful in their business, may not have segregated their business risk sufficiently from their investments. When it comes to their investments, they tend to gravitate towards the sectors and countries they are familiar with.

Home bias, especially in a Southeast Asia context, remains a major impediment for investment returns when it comes to wealth preservation for the long haul.


Why People Prefer to “Stay Home”
A home bias is driven by behavioural traits and occurs when investors over-invest due to familiarity with their home assets, potentially missing out on better global opportunities from a risk-reward perspective.

For many entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia, their wealth was amassed through a strong knowledge of the local business conditions. For them, applying their local knowledge made sense, and their past experience honed their instincts when it came to assessing domestic assets. However, it is a double-edged sword, which may lead them to overestimate their judgements.

Home bias seemingly gives investors a sense of control, hence they may attach more risk to investing globally than is deserved simply because overseas opportunities are less understood.

However, is this behavioural bias justifiable?

Benefits of Stepping Out
Academic studies show home bias is prevalent across the world and more importantly, it is not optimal when one invests with home bias.

Home bias will likely lead to heavy exposure to certain sectors in the local economy. The implication of a higher concentration in a portfolio is increased risk, as well as a possible drag on returns over the long haul.

By being overly concentrated on one region versus another, an investor can miss out on particular sectors that play an important role in global economic growth.

The evidence is stronger when we apply it from a Southeast Asian investor context.

For example, investing in a typical global market index today will provide exposure to more than 1,000 stocks; however, the Indonesia market index, for example, will only have about 20 stocks.

Specifically, if an investor bought into a global equity index a decade ago, they would have gained by more than 113%. However, if that same investor bought into an Indonesia equity index, that investor would only be up by 21% (Chart 1).

The divergence in performance becomes stark when we look over longer periods of time such as over the past three decades (Chart 2).

Clearly, if there is a stronger Indonesia home bias, it would likely have resulted in lower-risk adjusted returns when we look at five to 10 years’ time frames.

It is important to note that home bias for Southeast Asia fixed income investors can be detrimental for investment returns.

Over the past few decades, Southeast Asian currencies are highly sensitive to the global economic cycle. Historically, Southeast Asian currencies typically suffer while USD outperforms during periods of global market turmoil and stress. Therefore, Southeast Asia fixed income investors without a USD-biased currency overlay tend to underperform when it comes to investment returns. This is due to the extreme exchange rate volatility of Southeast Asian currencies that historically underperforms the dollar over long periods of time. Hence, for Southeast Asia investors, there is a need to consider dollar-biased diversification for their currency overlay strategy (Chart 3).

2024 and Beyond: Multi-Speed and Global Diversification
Looking at 2024 and beyond, the impact of ever-changing growth-inflation dynamics will play out at different speeds among countries.

It seems that inflation has peaked, while growth is going to slow down for most of the developed world. The extent of this slowdown remains uncertain and will vary across economies.

The gradual decline in inflation means that central banks are unlikely to come to the rescue quickly to revive growth. Major central banks are at the end of their tightening cycles but will likely proceed judiciously with rate cuts even in 2024. Clearly, there is plenty of room for monetary policy divergence, especially between the developed markets and emerging world. Therefore, there will be greater differentiation in terms of investment returns across countries.

Historically, global diversification has led to higher returns per unit of volatility. This is especially important looking to 2024 and beyond, given the divergence in expected returns and the range of possible economic outcomes.

Step Out of Home and Go Global
Diversification across geographies is just as important as diversification across asset classes.

While over- or under-exposure to a region may boost returns for some time, for reasons specific to that time period that are likely to be clear only in hindsight, this is unlikely to be in the best interests of long-term investors.

Benefits of global diversification are particularly evident for investors based in Southeast Asian markets that are either relatively small (in terms of market capitalisation), or under-diversified (in terms of sector concentration).

Geographical diversification is important, but this should be considered in relation to a company’s wider exposures, such as the location of its customer base and supply chain, rather than the location of its stock exchange.

Southeast Asian investors, for example, not only achieve better diversification across economic sectors but also broaden the opportunity set by expanding the number of eligible securities when moving from local to global markets.

While home bias may provide a sense of comfort and security, it can hinder the optimisation of investment portfolios. Neglecting international opportunities may result in missed chances for higher returns and exposure to industries and sectors not available in the domestic market.

Global diversification is not just about returns, it is grounded in the adage “don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” emphasising the importance of spreading risk. Diversification acts as a risk management tool, aiming to reduce the impact of poor-performing assets on an investment portfolio.

Despite the benefits of diversification, home bias often creeps into investment decisions. Investors must strike a balance between the benefits of diversification and the allure of familiar domestic investments.

Clearly, there is a need to step out of the comforts of home-bias investing and go global.

James Cheo, Chief Investment Officer for Southeast Asia at HSBC Global Private Banking and Wealth

About James Cheo
James Cheo is a member of the Global Investment Committee for Global Private Banking and Wealth and also a member of the Regional Investment Committee in Asia. In his role, he spearheads the development of investment strategies across all asset classes for HSBC Global Private Banking & Wealth clients in Southeast Asia and India.

With his knowledge and wealth of experience, his investment views are frequently sought after, with appearances on notable financial media including BBC, Bloomberg, CNBC, and Channel News Asia.



privatebanking.hsbc.com



Disclaimer

The information contained in this article has not been reviewed in the light of your individual circumstances and is for information purposes only. It does not purport to provide legal, taxation or other advice and should not be taken as such. No client or other reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of the content of this article without seeking specific professional advice. Issued by The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited.