30 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – JUNE 2023 WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM ROUNDTABLE Also, with Hong Kong’s status as a legal and finance hub, I also see a rise in inquiries concerning our work for family offices, private wealth, and asset protection to futureproof the VUCA environment for our clients. I expect demand will also improve in the second half of this year for international capital markets and M&A to help strengthen Hong Kong’s position as a legal and financial hub and commerce gateway between China and the West. HWANG: We’re witnessing increased demand for regulatory advice in the Fintech/cryptocurrency area. Requests for assistance with fund formations under the LPF and OFC regimes have also seen a gradual rise. We’re also seeing a lot of the bond defaults, especially in the Chinese property sector, coming home to roost as we pursue bondholder claims against issuers. The other area that is showing strongly is insolvency in the financial markets – from private equity and hedge funds to cryptocurrency platforms. We’re also seeing a growing number of regulatory investigations. All the above tend to be lagging indicators, as investors who have lost money come to the realization, sometimes a year or two after the event, that they need to pursue their claims in the courts if they are to have any hope of meaningful recourse, and on the other side debtors or others who have received investment are forced to defend themselves. To be sure, in terms of a geographical trend, many Chinese investors are taking a rekindled interest in Hong Kong as a regional hub, often in conjunction with Singapore. We often tell clients that in order to either establish a footprint in the region (in the case of clients from outside Asia), or to internationalize (in the case of Chinese clients), they probably need to have a presence in both cities – Hong Kong and Singapore – which happen to be jurisdictions in which we are capable of assisting them. LIN: Based on our experience, in recent years, especially during the pandemic, one of the specific areas with increasing demand of legal services, besides traditional IPOs, would be capital markets with regard to resumption of trading, liquidation and restructuring of Hong Kong listed companies. We believe that this increased demand stems from Hong Kong’s role as a regional capital market. ALB: Are there any emerging legal trends or regulatory changes resulting from the economic recovery that your firm is closely monitoring? CHAN: I would say 2023 is the year of AI. As a legal trend and regulatory development to monitor it is certainly the use of AI in all walks of life including our own legal industry. Our firm formed an Artificial Intelligence Task Force. I serve as a member of the AI Advisory Team for the Task Force. At Dorsey, we have access to various AI-based legal techs. As such, I am closely monitoring this trend from 360 degrees to ensure that we find the right model that adds value for our clients. HWANG: As a Singaporean, a decadeslong permanent resident of Hong Kong, and a lawyer qualified in both jurisdictions, I often get asked about the competition between the two cities. Much has been said about the astounding popularity of Singapore in recent times, and questions asked about how Hong Kong compares (together with much hand-wringing anxiety on the part of those in Hong Kong). One thing that’s clear is that the competition (and, less-often mentioned, collaboration) between Hong Kong and Singapore is good for both cities. We’ve seen them develop in competition, and also in tandem, in the emerging field of cryptocurrency regulation. This has resulted in them becoming the leading Fintech hubs in Asia, and indeed internationally. We are also seeing them compete, and as a result each grow their respective pies, in asset management, family offices, technology, trade and innovation. I think this is very exciting and will ultimately drive growth and create opportunities for everyone in the Asia-Pacific region, and everyone participating in the region. LIN: A lot of cross-border insurance business was not able to carry out during the pandemic or was impacted by the pandemic. The reopening of control points between mainland and Hong Kong since the beginning of this year has secured the increasing demand for cross-border insurance legal services. For example, our firm is engaged in a project involving more than $1 billion strategic investment in an insurance company listed on HKEX. The project was actually launched before the pandemic. However, it was not until recently the project has reached substantial phases for negotiation and drafting documents. Apart from insurance, as Hong Kong is one of the world’s largest financial markets, investment funds and cross border corporate finance have grown relatively fast in the last six months, from which we could sense a demand for regulatory compliance in this regard, especially for insurance, funds, and other financial services. ALB: Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po recently called this the “golden window for development” for Hong Kong. How has your firm adapted its growth strategy to capitalize on this window? CHAN: Yes, we are doing more to capture the golden window of development opportunities for Hong Kong. For us, this is translating into a positive forward-thinking strategy for building a legal business infrastructure to capture Hong Kong’s development opportunities for our city. The theme for our Hong Kong teams will certainly be being closer and working alongside our clients and network of contacts in the Greater Bay Area. Several of our firm’s lawyers know the GBA well. They grew up there. We have an in-house GBA committee to focus on integrating our practice, know-how, and soft skills with GBA opportunities. As you know, even the ecosystem of apps used for smartphones in China requires acquiring a new skill set to navigate the GBA well. In doing all this, we want to be the lightning rod that brings Dorsey’s legal practices and service offerings in