Financial, Legal & Tax Committee

The Finance, Legal and Tax (FLT) Network is a diverse interest group representing members of the Hong Kong and broader China financial and legal services sectors to discuss topical issues of interest to the Australian and Hong Kong business community.

Committee Management 

Chair: Benjamin Wong

Director, Advisory - Deals, PwC

Benjamin is a Director, Advisory Deals - PwC, responsible for deal strategy, M&A integration-separation for financial services clients, and brings over 15 years in banking, sovereign wealth funds, insurance experience in Sydney (Suncorp), London (RBS), Abu Dhabi (ADIA) Hong Kong (RBS, JP Morgan, Bank of New York Mellon, Wells Fargo Bank).

Born in Sydney, Benjamin holds a B.Applied Finance B.Commerce (Actuarial) – Macquarie University, and Financial Engineering Certificate – Stanford University. In addition, Benjamin co-chairs FinTech Association HK’s Financial Literacy & Inclusion Committee, and volunteers at SENsational Consultancy (equal opportunities for people with special needs). 



Darren Bowdern
Partner, KPMG
Darren is a tax partner in mergers and acquisitions in Asia for KPMG.

Vice-Chair: Jane McBride
Partner, Deacons
Jane heads up the Licensing, Compliance & Regulatory Team at Deacons, a core part of the firm’s award winning financial services practice.

Vice-Chair: Robert Quinlivan

Co-Founder, A-Stars Advisors

Vice-Chair: Ian Thompson

Engagement and Mission
The Committee’s role covers a wide range of issues including financial, legal and fiscal developments in Hong Kong, China and elsewhere in Asia. A core focus of the Committee is advocacy, using the expertise and resources of its members to provide views on policy development. The Committee holds monthly meetings to discuss contemporary issues affecting businesses and enabling members to network.

As such the committee provides:
-      A discussion forum for pertinent issues that both are and/or will impact Australian-related companies         
        doing business in Hong Kong and China, and as expatriate Australians living in Hong Kong.
-      AustCham committee and members in general with a rolling program that enables them to keep up to date.
-      For member businesses a channel to raise exposure with, and to manage ‘lobbying’ Australian and Hong    
        Kong Government financial and legal service regulators and government agencies in order to enhance the  
        business and regulatory environment.
-      Forum for networking opportunities for members employed in the financial services industry.

The Committee is representative of the sector being a mix of individual, corporate and government agency members with the latter representing Australian, Hong Kong and Global financial and legal services businesses. These include Macquarie, Westpac, Goldman Sachs, Prudential, Minter Ellison, Ord Minnett, Davis Polk, Merkin, HSF, Deacons, ANZ, KPMG, Wells Fargo, CLSA,  
PineBridge Investments and various Australian trade services representatives covering DFAT, Victoria and Queensland. 

Advocacy work and submission
The FLT Committee actively participates in pertinent lobbying efforts and consultations which affect members in general within the AustCham context. Examples of these efforts are
     -        Ongoing lobbying for implementation of a Double Tax Agreement (DTA) between Hong Kong and Australia  
         and updating of the China-Australia DTA, plus a parallel effort on similar Free Trade and mutual recognition  
         for funds and related bodies.
-      Hong Kong property stamp duty review.
-      Developments in terms of tax information exchange and related agreements.
-      Hong Kong broadening tax base consultations.
-      MPF reforms in Hong Kong.
-      Companies code and competition law ordinances.
Events and Briefings
An annual event hosted and arranged by the FLT Committee is the Australians in Finance, with a select invitation of committee members and leaders in the sector – sponsored in 2014 by ANZ, KPMG and Herbert Smith Freehills.

The Committee arranges and hosts a series of events each year. Events are primarily briefings for members or with the broader AustCham community. Ongoing briefings and speakers events on such topics as:
-      Shanghai Hong Kong Stock Connect
-      MPFA update by the regulator
-      Trustee ordinance update
-      Bitcoin
-      New companies ordinance update.

The Committee also annually supports with member sponsorship an AustCham monthly Mix at Six.

Keeping members up-to-date
The Committee has also worked to ensure contemporary articles are published in austcham news covering articles such as:
-       New withholding regime for Non-resident (tax purposes) disposing of assets (Tommy Ip)
-       New HK Companies Ordinance presentation (Greg Elliott)
-       Australian Federal Budget 2014-15 (Darren Bowdern)
-       Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative – Australian Taxation Office Project DO IT (Tommy Ip)
-       Hong Kong’s First Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) (Patrick Trainor)
-       Stamp Duty Amendments on Property Transactions Passed (Ian Thomson)
-       Australians in Finance Highlights
-       Get the latest update on Hong Kong Pensions and MPF (Ian Thomson)
-       Budget Comment: Key points to note for HK 2015-2016 Budget (Ian Thomson)

Looking Ahead
The Committee actively works to define a program on a running basis that is focussed on issues of import to Committee and Chamber membership. The Committee seeks input from members across the broad based on interest in both the Hong Kong and Australian industries where it considers a material difference can be made. Some upcoming matters are:
-       Lobbying efforts and other continue on matters still outstanding
-       DTA as a continuing effort
-       HK-China mutual funds update (July)
-       Australians in Finance (September)
-       Signature Investment Visa Update(end of year)
-       OpenEnded Fund update (end of year).