Expatriate bankers in Hong Kong would soon lose their favorite hangout place in core Central famous for its unlimited caviar on weekend buffet.
Located at the 43rd-44th Floor, Gloucester Tower, The Landmark, Hong Kong Bankers Club will move out after more than 30 years when its lease with Hongkong Land would expire on October 31, 2020, according to two local newspapers.
The club founded by a group of overseas bankers led by Sir Kenneth Fung in 1977 moved to the current 7,000 square feet premises in Gloucester Tower since 1981.
Since then, it has become one of the best-known eating places for professionals such as bankers, lawyer and accountants, partly because the club offered value for money cuisines without building in a 10% tips, just as the Foreign Correspondent Club.
True, one does not belong to the big league if he is not a club member. The club is known to offer a tie to guests but turn them down in jeans, even you might be Mark Zuckerberg.
But in recent years, the club has seen a decline in membership number to slightly more than 1,000, and according to Next Magazine, the vacant corporate membership surged to 245.
The fall of the number of overseas bankers came amid the growing trend that they are either left or adjourned to districts outside Central where more Chinese banks and financial companies are taking over Central.
Goldman Sachs, for example, would move part of its operation to Causeway Bay, as with JP Morgan to Quarry Bay and Citibank to Kwun Tong as the rental of Hong Kong business centre increased.
On the other hand, Chinese financials including fund management companies are moving in, taking advantage of Hong Kong as a gateway to cash out from trading and initial public offering.
One lesson the club should learn is to buy assets early. Fellow Chinese clubs like Shunde, Shanghai and Kiangsu-Chekiang associations all bought their venues in early years and now their members are in good shape.
Despite a HK$100 million cash on hand, the club now may find it a bit challenging to purchase a new venue. Good luck to the overseas bankers!