Hong Kong SFC licensing and compliance hints

SFC licensed firms to be paid a 12-month salary subsidy for each eligible new hire

The HKSAR government announced the launch of another wage subsidy plan under the Anti-epidemic Fund on 28 August 2020; this time with the aim of creating 1,500 full time jobs in the financial services industry. This is under the government’s Financial Industry Recruitment Scheme for Tomorrow (FIRST).

Eligible employers, including SFC licensed firms, HKMA-authorized institutions and insurance intermediaries, can receive a salary subsidy of up to HK$10,000 per month per job for one year, for up to 25 new hires or 5% of the number of its existing employees (if lower). There will not be any restrictions on the roles or positions of the new hires, although they need to be Hong Kong permanent residents when their employment commences.

Do you need to notify the SFC of new hires?

There is no general obligation on a licensed firm to notify the SFC when it makes a new hire. Licensed firms are however obliged to notify the SFC within seven days, of the names and certain other details of any person who is hired as a (i) complaints officer, (ii) emergency contact person, or (iii) Manager-In-Charge. Responsible Officers and other licensed representatives require the prior approval of the SFC so it is not possible for a new hire to be appointed as such without the SFC’s prior knowledge.

Is the SFC’s prior approval required to move or expand an office?

Yes, if records or documents relating to the regulated business are being kept at, or can be accessed from, the new/expanded office. Some licensed firms still overlook the requirement to obtain the SFC’s prior approval of any new record keeping premises under section 130 of the SFO. Note that the SFC’s prior approval is required even if a firm only moves to a different unit in the same office building or expands into an adjacent unit.