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One quarter of bank branches in Hong Kong close

Fund sales will likely be impacted due to the negative investor sentiment resulting from the coronavirus, according to the HKIFA.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) said it received reports from banks last Friday saying that they will close some of their branches or shorten operating hours temporarily.

According to the information provided, around 20-30% of bank branches are expected to be closed temporarily and some of the remaining branches will be open for restricted hours.

At the same time, HKMA encourages customers to use online or phone banking, automated teller machines (ATMs) and other electronic banking services as far as possible, adding the authority would work closely with these banks.

Among them, Hang Seng Bank will close 18 branches, 10 outlets at MTR train stations and three business centres from 5 February. State-owned Bank of China has closed 49 of about 200 branches until further notice while Standard Chartered Bank said it would close 18 branches temporarily from today.

Fund sale impact

“It is inevitable that the coronavirus will have an impact on fund sales. Closure of some bank branches may have an impact, but as more investors are now buying and selling funds via the internet or the apps, [the closures] may not be that significant,” Sally Wong, chief executive officer of Hong Kong Investment Funds Association (HKIFA) told FSA.

“Of greater significance is the overall market sentiment. The general public is generally pre-occupied by how the situation pans out and other issues, including investment, are relegated to lower importance,” she added.

“Secondly, there is a lot of uncertainty. For example, how long will the coronavirus last and its extent and the ramifications such as how it will affect the China economy, implications to the global economy as well as global supply chain, remains unclear.

“Thus, probably investors will remain on the sidelines or probably be inclined to opt for lower risks assets,” Wong noted.

The virus has 17,205 confirmed cases in mainland China to date and 361 people have died, according to the latest report from China’s National Health Commission.

In Hong Kong, there are 15 confirmed cases, Macau has eight and Taiwan has ten, the report added.

At the same time, some asset mangers and wealth managers are canceling events, such as Deutsche Bank Wealth Management, Allianz Global Investors and China Asset Management.

To cope with the serious situation, last Monday, the Asset Management Association of China (Amac) issued an official statement calling on “capable and willing” fund houses to provide assistance to coronavirus-infected areas.

China Asset Management has donated RMB 2m while E Fund Management and Harvest Fund Management gave RMB 5m each, FSA previously reported.

Separately, UBS Group today announced that they are donating $1m to help frontline responders in China accelerate their efforts to contain the global spread of the coronavirus, according to a statement from the firm.

Part of the Mark Allen Group.