SFC licensing

If you’re looking to be licensed for the first time – or if you need to change your license, add a Representative or Responsible Officer, or seek permission for a new controlling shareholder – we can help.

The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) regulate Hong Kong’s securities and futures markets, working closely alongside The Hong Kong Money Authority, The Insurance Authority and The Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority to provide and enforce market regulations.

The SFC Licensing Handbook sets out the requirements for getting an SFC licence, with major areas of focus including:

A general fit and proper requirement
Focused on factors such as financial status, qualifications and ability to carry on the regulated activities competently, etc.

Incorporation and demonstrable competence
Applicants must be incorporated in Hong Kong (or an overseas company registered with the Companies Registry of Hong Kong) with a proper business structure, good internal control systems and qualified personnel.

Assignment of Responsible officers (RO)
No less than two people appointed to directly supervise each regulated activity.

Senior management responsibility
Individuals appointed to be principally responsible for managing key functions such as, overall management oversight, key business line, compliance, AML, risk management, operational control and review, finance and accounting and IT.

Financial resources
All licensed corporations always maintain a minimum paid-up share capital and liquid capital. This can vary depending on the types of regulated activity you wish to undertake.

Helping you obtain your SFC license

To ensure that your application to become licenced is approved, our in-country experts will provide support to:

  • Determine which regulated activities you need to be licenced for, or in some cases whether a license is even necessary.
  • Prepare your application pack and supporting documentation
  • Help you to deal with queries from the SFC during the application process
  • Provide you with a tailored compliance manual, any required bespoke stand-alone policies and procedures to match your business
  • Train Directors and staff so that they understand with their responsibilities and accountabilities under the SFC regulatory framework
  • Embed tools and ways of working to ensure you can demonstrate compliance and meet SFC obligations post licensing

Guiding you through the SFC licensing process

Generally, licencing applications follow a similar sequence with applications typically taking:

  • 4-8 weeks to prepare and submit
  • 1-2 months – for the SFC to appoint a case officer and take up the application
  • 3-5 months to determine the application

Having successfully managed over 500 applications on behalf of clients globally, our specialist Hong Kong team have a deep understanding of areas on which the SFC will focus during the application process and the questions you’re likely to be asked, with our three-stage licensing process covering:

  • 1. Advice and scoping

    Once agreeing the scope and timetable, we’ll provide you with initial information requests, helping to determine which regulated activities require licensing and financial criteria that will need to be met. At this stage, we’ll also assess the experience of your proposed teams to determine candidates for Responsible Officers, Managers-in- Charge and highlight any areas of risk.

  • 2. Preparing and supporting the application

    We’ll draft or review your regulatory business plan, financial projections and all the standard forms required, with full quality assurance prior to submission to the SFC. If required, we can coordinate the completion of the entire application pack.

    Upon submission, our team can help you respond to any queries or clarifications required by the SFC.

  • 3. Preparing for life as a regulated firm

    While the SFC consider your application, this is an ideal opportunity to review or prepare tailored policies, procedures and a compliance monitoring plan; and rolling out training to staff, ensuring everyone understands their responsibilities when conducting regulated activity.

Start your journey

Get in touch using the form below and a member of the team will get back you as soon as possible.

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