Finance professionals are desperate to pack up and move from Shanghai to Hong Kong, as the Chinese financial hub’s harsh lockdowns take a direct hit on their business prospects and upend their daily lives.
Thousands of bankers, traders, and investors in the financial center of the world’s second-largest economy have found themselves confined to their homes, where some have struggled to secure food and other supplies for their families.
“What happened in Shanghai is shocking to most of the people. Few would have imagined things will get out of hand to such an extent,” said Melvyn Xu, a private equity investor who moved to Shanghai from Hong Kong in 2020.
Xu is now considering sending her children back to schools in Hong Kong, while making Shanghai a “ground for work only.”
“I think the biggest frustration is you cannot do anything about it (lockdown), which is particularly upsetting,” he said. “For people living here, you’ve got utterly zero bargaining power.”
Financial professionals expressed strong concerns over continuing to operate from within the city as lockdown measures might be reinforced, according to Tan.
One senior portfolio manager based in Shanghai said almost “no adjustments” have been introduced to maintain the city’s operation.
Prior to the pandemic, the industry’s growth saw many bankers, traders, and fund managers pack up and move to Shanghai and nearby cities to be closer to their clients.
The exodus will impact the financial sector amid its efforts to ramp up its presence there.
Goldman Sachs is looking to add close to 50 jobs in Shanghai, a WeChat post showed. JPMorgan is beefing up its Shanghai unit after taking full ownership last year, while BlackRock is adding around 20 to its headcount in its Shanghai fund unit.
However, strict lockdowns have made it impossible to gain expertise working on large transactions, meaning they have no choice but to return to Hong Kong if they want their business to survive.
“Once this lockdown is over, expats across all industries will negotiate a new career outside of China,” said Jason Tan, Shanghai-based director specializing in wealth, buy-side, and fintech.
Shanghai’s brutal four-week-long lockdown, which has forced most of the city’s 26 million people indoors, was put in place in an effort to stamp out the latest wave of coronavirus.
The number of cases in Shanghai has now topped 500,000 and at least 190 people have died from COVID.
With Post wires