by Simon Mortlock 31 October 2016
Hong Kong is trying to boost its credentials as a fintech centre. The city’s regulator is liberalising its approach to monitoring the industry, while global and local tech firms are expanding.
But fintech also faces serious challenges in Hong Kong. A February report from EY ranked it last among seven main fintech hubs around the world. And as we noted in September, family and economic pressures mean too many banking professionals fear moving into the sector.
Some have taken the leap, however. We’ve looked through online public profiles to find people in Hong Kong who’ve left established careers in large firms to launch their own start-ups. Let them inspire you.
1. Sam Allen
Stanford MBA graduate Allen worked for KKR for nine years in Hong Kong, rising to become a director in portfolio operations and a member of the firm’s Asia leadership team. In April this year he became CEO of Goldman Sachs-backed start-up CompareAsiaGroup, a consumer finance website. The American began his career as a business analyst at McKinsey & Company in 2001 and then spent a year at AT&T before moving into the finance sector with KKR.
2. Mukesh Bubna
Bubna is a former Citi veteran. He started out in operations and tech roles in his native India between 2005 and 1999 – and by 2012 he was a Hong Kong-based director in product and marketing in the firm’s cards division. Bubna then did a two-year stint as the Asia Pacific director of Western Union. He’s now putting his lending experience to use in his own peer-to-peer start-up, Monexo Innovations.
3. Laurence Fauchon
A new entrant to the Hong Kong fintech arena, Fauchon recently founded SmartAlpha, an online data and portfolio management platform that specialises in quantitative investment strategies. Fauchon is a former quant herself and worked in the equity and derivatives team at BNP Paribas in Paris and Hong Kong for 13 years. She also has experience running an online business, having launched HelperChoice, a site which matches domestic workers to employers, in 2012.
4. Andrew Chun Ning Lee
Another new fintech entrepreneur to keep an eye on, Lee began his banking career in institutional sales at ICBC in 2010. By 2012 he was head of technology solutions at Ortus Capital Management, and his last job in banking was as an Asia currency trader at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Lee quit Merrill in September last year to set up his own fintech firm, Thunderbirds Ventures, and is currently building a mobile platform to improve the efficiency of cross-border and domestic payments.
5. Simon Loong
Loong rose up the commercial banking ranks at Citi in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan between 1998 and 2010. His final role in banking was as North East Asia regional head of unsecured lending at Standard Chartered. Loong is now the CEO of WeLab, a peer-to-peer lender which operates in Hong Kong and the mainland.
6. Alex Medana
Medana is a fintech multi-tasker. He’s founding partner and CEO of FinFabrik, a software developer and consultancy, and CEO of blockchain specialist of WIP Solutions. He’s also a fintech committee member at the European Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and a board member at another blockchain firm, XNotes Alliance. Medana was at Deutsche Bank between 2004 and 2014, most recently as head of client service cash equities for APAC. He then spent about two year at SWIFT as director of compliance services Asia.
7. David Rosa
Like Loong, Rosa was a Citi stalwart – he worked for the bank in New York, London and Hong Kong, latterly as an MD and head of credit trading for Asia Pacific. He was an early-mover into fintech in Hong Kong, establishing start-up lab GPC Works in 2012 and e-commerce firm Variably Technologies two years later. Earlier this year he co-founded Neat, a mobile current account app aimed at millennials.
8. Alex Ypsilanti
Ypsilanti boasts a long bulge-bracket career, most recently as managing director and head of quantitative and derivative strategies at Morgan Stanley. He was at Merrill Lynch before that, where he headed up equity derivatives research for Asia and then Europe. Ypsilanti is somewhat of a fintech pioneer in Hong Kong – he entered the sector back in 2012. His firm, Quantifeed, uses “cloud-hosted technology to deliver low-touch wealth management solutions to self-directed investors”.