Mapping Sustainable Finance Survey

January 2018 | Sustainable Finance Initiative

Hong Kong is home to many investors and stakeholders who wish to become active participants in sustainable investing. Women and millennials are leading this charge.

Our recent study, “Mapping Sustainable Finance in Hong Kong”, is the first market survey of its kind to review the state of play of sustainable finance in Hong Kong. We analysed feedback from 239 market participants with a role in transitioning Hong Kong towards a sustainable finance hub. They represented six stakeholder groups: asset owners, asset managers, financial institutions, corporates, thought leaders, and governments and regulators. Of the respondents, 51% were of senior executive level.


Baby boomers were born between 1946–1964, generation X were born between 1965–1979 and millennials were born between 1980–1995. We have grouped the survey responses into these three categories for this report.

NOW is the time! There is a window of opportunity for Hong Kong to embrace sustainable finance

More than 75% of our respondents see sustainable finance as key to Hong Kong’s relevance and competitiveness as an international finance hub. Global momentum is growing to align the financial system with sustainable development, and governments around the world increasingly appreciate that economic growth and environmental and social stability should go hand in hand.

Our study produced four key findings:

Key Finding 1.0

Sustainable Finance Is Key to Hong Kong’s Competitiveness as a Financial Centre


Nearly 90% of respondents believe Hong Kong is “behind” or “reactive” in terms of sustainable finance compared with other global financial centres.


75% believe sustainable finance is important for Hong Kong’s future.


60% of female respondents said sustainable finance is “very important” for the long term future of Hong Kong, compared to 24% of male respondents.

How important do you believe sustainable finance is for the long-term future of Hong Kong as a financial center?

Please note for reporting purposes we have removed data where respondents selected ‘moderately important’, ‘of little importance’ and ‘not at all important’ as an answer option, therefore all rows do not always aggregate to 100%. Figures represented in this chart are calculated by taking the count of each response by group over the total count of all respondents in each group.

Key Finding 2.0

Low Market Awareness, Poor Government Incentives and Misperception of Concessionary Return are Top Challenges


21% of respondents cite lack of market awareness and understanding of sustainable finance as top challenges to overcome for sustainable finance to grow in Hong Kong.


17% believe a perceived concessionary financial return as a key barrier to growth.


16% see lack of enabling government policies/regulations as another major challenge stifling growth.

The challenges are not insurmountable, and the study found that market participants are ready to “get active”.

Key Finding 3.0

An Increase in Investor Demand and Government will be the Greatest Market Catalysts.

Top three market catalysts identified are:


of participants identified growing investor demand as key to developing the sustainable finance industry.


identified government support through incentives, subsidies and regulation as key.


of participants advocate expanding of fiduciary duties with respect to ESG will promote growth in Hong Kong.

Which do you believe are the most important stakeholder groups in promoting sustainable finance in Hong Kong?

Source: SFI Report ”Mapping Sustainable Finance in Hong Kong”

Key Finding 4.0

Now is a Window of Opportunity and Stakeholders Want to Get Active.


Wish to “maintain their current activity levels” or “become more active in the future”

What is your desired future level of activity in sustainable finance within your organisation?

Overall, 31% of survey respondents would like to become leaders in sustainable finance in the future, with women showing a stronger interest to become leaders in sustainable finance in the future (37%) than male counterparts at 28%. Within Millennials 36% wish to become future sustainable finance leaders, compared with 5% of Generation X and 11% of Baby Boomers.

Source: SFI Report ”Mapping Sustainable Finance in Hong Kong”

Millennials wish to become future sustainable finance leaders.

36% of Millennials wish to become future sustainable finance leaders, compared with 5% of Generation X and 11% of Baby Boomers.

Can Hong Kong catch the sustainable finance wave and become a leader in this region?

We think the answer is yes! We believe Hong Kong is uniquely positioned to be become a sustainable finance leader in the region with our well-established legal, accounting and financial infrastructure, international connectivity and talent pool of professionals. It is evident from the survey that stakeholders believe that it is important for Hong Kong to embrace sustainable finance to maintain competitiveness and that there is a strong desire amongst individuals to become active within the space. Hong Kong is ready.

For more detailed analysis of the above findings please read our full report.

Read the Full Report

Hong Kong is ready to take action!

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