Last year when I visited over 15 banks in Hong Kong in 2 days, it was tough to get a bank account. But I had no idea it would become next to impossible in 2016! These days we are getting flooded with emails from people getting rejected for their business bank account and are wondering what to do.
As we have been repeating ourselves over and over – thought it was in due time to make a proper blog post about it
Try Other Hong Kong Banks
Naturally the idea would be to persist ahead with your business and visit other banks. We have as many as we can think of listed on that blog post for you to check out. Also leave some comments on that blog post and let’s crowdsource and share ideas.
Hang Seng is the next logical choice. Though they are about 30% owned by HSBC so one can online foresee them adapting some of the same policies that HSB currently is.
A lot of the local banks are focusing on those located in Hong Kong with HKIDs (Hong Kong ID cards) – and tell you go to go HSBC! Well, wonder if they will take advantage of this great opportunity and start opening their doors more.
We have a private forum we have opened in response to this where we can share in a private area what some of the members are going through, in real time.
There are a bunch of people we know that just end u getting by using a Paypal account only for their business. Yes, this is much less than ideal. They may use personal credit cards in other countries or other banks to get by when they need to – and then put all those transactions under their Hong Kong company.
Apply for Bank Account In Another Country, via a Hong Kong Limited
Many don’t realize, you can apply for a bank account in any country with a company in any other country. It doesn’t need to be a company matching the country’s bank account.
We have had some apply to banks in Europe and Singapore with their Hong Kong companies. They get the account, and then can add that bank account to their company asset list.
The issue here is paying a lot of local suppliers in Hong Kong will get expensive with international wire transfers.
Use Dedicated Personal Bank Accounts
Again, not the most ideal – but you can use your personal bank accounts for business. This may get tricky if you are mixing personal and business transactions in the account. But if you open an account in your personal name and only use it for business transactions, the bookkeeping can be much more straightforward.
Talk to your accountant about this – it may be tricky depending on which country it is setup in and the relationship with you and the business. Are there other shareholders in the company? Do they care that you have full control of the bank account? What if there is a liability issue, will the company back you up?
While this is a hassle, as an entrepreneur, you sometimes need to take matters in your own hands. I would recommend you make an agreement from the company to you personally to outline the relationship between you, your personal bank account, and the company. This makes it much more straightforward to show accountant, governments, and lawyers if needed.
Open a New Company And Try Again
Want to try your luck again? This could get expensive and be a hassle, but you may want to start fresh with a new Hong Kong limited company. Though HSBC may not tell you why you were rejected, if you re-apply and you again are the shareholder, it could be a repeat of what happened last time.
So this is a bit riskier and something I wouldn’t recommend unless you have a very specific and clear reason why. Opening a new company with the same directors would help in re-applying for the bank.
A Business Partner Has a Current Company With HSBC Account Existing
Maybe one of your business partners already has an HSBC account. Can they make a deal where you can use their account for certain transactions? Again, this is risky to you and them as that company’s bank account is set for that company to use – not another company. So that business person needs to think very long and hard before letting you use their account for a different business.
I have a feeling this is going to start to be more and more common as banks are making it so difficult to get new accounts.
A Company Needs a Bank Account
I have just seen so many people squirming to get an account at HSBC these days. It is crazy and scary. They tell me what is the point to have a company if they don’t get a bank account. I couldn’t agree more. Really, when you boil down a business, what is it – a bank account! That is the lifeblood of a company, cash flow, money coming in and money going out.
Yet seems the reason for this crackdown has been bad people opening up accounts and using them to scam businesses, do terrorist acts, and sell drugs. So the bank sees new accounts as a risk – not as an asset.
You need to look like a valuable client to the bank. Low risk, high reward.
But seems like the average business owner is looking more like a risk than an asset!
I truly wish you luck – if you are a legitimate business owner trying to grow your international business. If you’re a scam artist trying to work the system, then screw you. Its people like you that have made this system next to impossible now.
What do I need to consider if my offshore HK Firm banks offshore like Switzerland for an example? What would be my biggest annoyances?
the fees seem to be pretty high!
Do you recommend using a virtual a bank called iAccountServices for business banking in HK?
Hi Lucy –
I am personally still evaluating iAccountServices at the moment so cannot recommend it – but it is a back up solution to consider
I´m being rejected for every single bank in Hon Kong.
What countries do you recommend to open a bank account for my Hong Kong offshore.
It would be possible to open it in China (i have temporary visa), or there are better options?
so sorry to hear about this – ya…I have been fearing this for a year now and hate hearing about it. Send us an email at email@example.com and Jessa can help you out