Calastone research: Hong Kong lags behind Singapore in number of technologists in leadership positions

11 May 2017

Calastone, the global funds transaction network and fintech company, today launched a whitepaper examining the readiness of companies in Asia to address the growing influence of disruptive new technologies such as blockchain and robo-advisors. The paper evaluates the ability of business leaders in the region to understand the implications of these new technologies and to adopt and harness their potential.

“The accelerating power of technology: lessons for the future of fund distribution in Asia” assesses the number of technologists in executive leadership positions at firms listed on Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HSI) and the Singapore Exchange (SGX). The presence of technologists at senior levels serves as a proxy for a given management team’s ability to lead the strategic adjustments necessary to taking steps towards embracing new technology.

Leo Chen, Managing Director – Head of Asia at Calastone – commented on the role of technologists: “Whereas historically company boards and management teams have been dominated by professionals from accountancy and legal backgrounds, technology is such an important tool today that it’s critical that professional technologists are also represented at the most senior corporate levels.”

Extensive research into the makeup of boards and leadership teams1 of HSI and SGX-listed companies revealed the following key findings:

  • While 44.6% of listed companies examined in Singapore had a technologist in a leadership position in 2016, Hong Kong lagged significantly at just 20.3%.
  • That said, both markets have seen steady increases in the number of companies with technologists in leadership positions – Singapore saw an increase from 17.9% in 2011 and Hong Kong from 6.3%.
  • In Hong Kong, the Information Technology sector dominates, accounting for over 46% of technologists in a leadership position, followed by Financials and Consumer Goods.
  • In Singapore, the Banking sector leads the way, accounting for 12% of technologists in a leadership position, followed by Real Estate Management and Development, Food and Staples Retailing and Aerospace and Defense.

Strong growth in the representation of technologists in senior management positions suggests that HSI and SGX-listed companies are increasingly aware of the need for a deep understanding of technology trends, but more needs to be done if they are to adapt. As a supplier of fintech solutions to the fund industry, Calastone sees opportunities for financial firms to apply takeaways from the research.

Mr Chen said that the asset management industry, in particular, had an opportunity to develop forward-looking technology roadmaps to meet the needs of increasingly tech savvy millennial investors and address margin pressure.

“As a financial technology company with a unique position in the funds industry, the trends in Hong Kong and Singapore we have highlighted are critical. The research demonstrates the need for a cultural shift in Asia to ensure technology is firmly part of the long-term strategic agenda. Calastone believes that an increased level of technological expertise and understanding of emerging and disruptive technologies is vital for the development and sustainability of the financial and funds industry,” Mr. Chen said.

Calastone’s report “The accelerating power of technology: lessons for the future of fund distribution in Asia” can be downloaded here.

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