Hong Kong holds edge over Singapore as top business hub thanks to availability of talent and ample supply
Hong Kong is set to emerge as the business hub of choice due to its financial prowess, deep talent pool and ample office space. The city is primed to overtake Switzerland as the largest private wealth management centre in 2026, and new visa programmes have been implemented to attract talent. Competition between Hong Kong and Singapore for skilled workers is bound to intensify, with Singapore’s advantage lying in the scale of its technology industry and ESG initiatives. Office rents in the two cities are at a tie, with Singapore registering a 43% increase over the past three years and Hong Kong experiencing a sharp decline. Both cities offer investors opportunities, ranging from solid returns and stable prices in Singapore to deeply discounted office assets in Hong Kong. Hong Kong continues to remain a top destination for global tech companies, however living costs may be an issue for relocation decisions. In the coming months, the debt funding gap for Hong Kong offices could trigger more discounted sales and create other attractive prospects for buyers.
Hong Kong is set to emerge as the preferred hub for business, due to its financial prowess and deep talent pool. According to a study released by property consultancy CBRE, Hong Kong topped three categories: the scale of its financial industry, its availability of talent, and its ample supply of office space.
Singapore came out on top in two areas: the scale of its technology industry, and its efforts in ESG (environmental, social and governance) initiatives and green building. In addition, Singapore’s economy is more diversified than Hong Kong’s, as the service sector in Hong Kong, including financial, insurance and trading, accounts for more than 90 per cent of the city’s economic output.
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The GDP of the economies within a four-hour flight of Hong Kong is US$28 trillion, while Singapore’s four-hour sphere encompasses US$7 trillion. As of June, there was only a 5% decrease in the number of multinational corporations maintaining regional headquarters in Hong Kong, although this was offset by an 18% increase in the number of mainland companies.
Hong Kong is likely to become the largest private wealth management centre and is tipped to overtake Switzerland in 2026. This is due to the Wealth for Good summit, held in March as part of an effort to attract at least 200 family offices to base themselves in the city by the end of 2025. Hong Kong has also exempted family offices from profit taxes since December.
In contrast, Singapore outpaces Hong Kong in terms of research and development spending. The city invests almost 2% of its economic output, compared with 1% in Hong Kong. It also attracted more talent last year, although the number of foreign workers remained below pre-pandemic levels.
When it comes to office rents, the two cities are at a tie. Singapore registered a 43% increase over the past three years, while Hong Kong saw its sharpest decrease in a decade. This is in part due to the surge in office-space supply in Hong Kong, which is set to add another 10% to its existing stock between this year and 2026, compared with 7% in Singapore. Despite the narrowing rental gap, Singapore still remains a top destination for global tech companies planning to set up an Asia-Pacific headquarters.
Competition between Hong Kong and Singapore for skilled workers is set to intensify, as both have implemented new visa programmes to attract talent. This will offer investors opportunities, ranging from solid returns and stable prices in Singapore to deeply discounted office assets in Hong Kong. In the coming months, the debt funding gap for Hong Kong offices could trigger more discounted sales, creating attractive prospects for buyers.
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