Private sector has a big role as sustainable investing takes root

Dai Kaiyi

Private sector has a big role as sustainable investing takes root

HONG KONG - Hong Kong has seen significant development concerning awareness and interest in impact investing in the past year — a sudden uptick driven by the SAR government’s top-down push during the period — according to Ronie Mak, managing director of family office RS Group.

Impact investing refers to investments with the intention to generate a measurable, beneficial social or environmental impact alongside a financial return.

With impact investing as the theme of a roundtable panel discussion on the sidelines of the 2019 Asian Financial Forum on Tuesday, Mak believed it signals that the term has officially begun to enter the mainstream finance.

With the Hong Kong SAR government launching the green bond move last year, the Securities and Futures Commission unveiled its strategic framework for green finance, and the Green Finance Association launched a comprehensive strategy focusing on upping the disclosure requirement of Hong Kong-listed companies.

Thus, Hong Kong government officials were all on the same page, and it really has been a momentum driver along the course, said Mak.

Due to the lack of investment opportunities on the Chinese mainland and in Hong Kong that could match RS Group’s needs a decade ago when it first deployed its capital, the company had to turn to US- and Europe-based independent financial advisors to transition their portfolio and find products as well as solutions.

“It’s not by choice,” said Mak, recalling that people in Hong Kong and the mainland had hardly even heard of the term impact investing, when the group was founded a decade ago.

With the HKSAR government ratcheting up efforts to spur the development of impact investing recently, Mak believed that private investors in Hong Kong have a big role to play in fostering the ecosystem.

With the aim of lifting the player pool, Hong Kong-based RS Group launched a sustainable finance initiative in an attempt to build up the community for private investors, said Mak.

“Instead of us doing it through another report, we want to do it through this platform.”

Launched in June last year, RS Group has seen a lot of interest from private investors who are eager to start it but don’t know how, she noted.

“The demand is there, and the issue is how you drive this demand in a way that will make the sector rise,” said Mak, adding that with a more robust market, the whole sector would improve in a more tangible way.

For RS Group, the ultimate success is when the whole financial system functions and operates naturally in a sustainable way, she said.

And in future, there would be no term for sustainable investing. “It’s just the way that finance is done.”