Executive and politician Laura Cha explains how the financial center can keep growing.
FORTUNE — Hong Kong needs to develop additional financial-services capabilities and areas of expertise if it wants to remain a top global player, Laura Cha, chairman of Hong Kong’s Financial Services Development Council, told a group of leading businesswomen here.
“We cannot afford to stand still,” Cha said at Fortune Most Powerful Women Asia, an inaugural gathering of mostly Asia-based powerful women in business, politics, education and the arts. “Because other people are already moving ahead.”
As part of a wide-ranging conversation on everything from Chinese government reforms to Japan’s Abenomics, Cha and interviewer Andy Serwer, managing editor of Fortune, joked about a 1995 Fortune article entitled “The Death of Hong Kong,” which predicted the demise of its role as a financial and commercial hub.
Cha’s non-governmental advisory group is pulling together recommendations for government leaders and regulators to consider as part of efforts to keep Hong Kong’s financial sector vibrant. She said Hong Kong “may have neglected” the development of certain areas such as banking back office, settlement, and procurement. Cha said the advisory committee is encouraging the government to put resources into development of new growth areas.
More broadly Cha, who also serves as an independent director of HSBC HBC and Unliever UL declared herself “bullish on Asia,” noting the rising middle class and the continued opportunities not only in China but also Indonesia and India, countries with “huge population growth, and good indications that their economies will go quite far.”