christine-lagarde-1 director-border

Message from the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund


When Hong Kongers go on a hike across the lush nature reserves, they usually do so with their families and friends. This popular pastime provides not just an uplifting break from work and city life, but it also tells us something about collaboration and systemic thinking.

What do I mean? Suppose there is a sudden turn in the weather, then a group of hikers is only as safe as its least-equipped member. The same goes for financial systems, because it is not enough for individual firms to be safe and sound. The system as a whole needs to be healthy.

That is perhaps the most important lesson from the 2008 global financial crisis, in which too many financial firms were facing vast exposures to toxic, securitized products. Regulators around the world have since increased their focus on system-wide resilience and better governance within and across financial firms.

This cultural shift has further strengthened Hong Kong SAR’s role as a global financial centre. Last year, for example, more money was raised in listings in Hong Kong SAR than on Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange.

At the same time, Hong Kongers are keenly aware that economic openness increases one’s sensitivity to shifting trends and downside risks: from trade tensions, to potential pressures in real estate markets, to slower-than-expected growth in Mainland China.

Addressing these types of risks requires not just sound economic and financial policies, but also collaboration and systemic thinking.

That spirit is at the heart of the Hong Kong Academy of Finance, which is designed to become a center of excellence for research and leadership development. Simply put, the goal is to help ensure that no-one is hiking alone, and that everyone is well-equipped.

Our collective goal must be to build a financial sector that is safer, more sustainable, and ethically sound—a financial industry with a broader sense of purpose. Here the Academy of Finance can make a difference by encouraging thoughtful leadership and helping firms to set a better “tone at the top”.

As the great poet, Henry David Thoreau, once put it: “I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than trees.”

By fostering transformative thinking and systemic awareness, the new Academy of Finance can help ensure that Hong Kong SAR’s financial system will come out even taller and stronger. This, in turn, will be a vital contribution to sustainable and inclusive growth here in Hong Kong SAR and across the Asia Pacific region.

Christine Lagarde
Managing Director, International Monetary Fund