HKEX announces Bonnie Chan as next CEO, Nicolas Aguzin ends tenure in May 2024

Rick Steves

“On behalf of the HKEX Board, I would like to thank Nicolas for leading HKEX during a very challenging period. He has played a major role in driving the promotion of Hong Kong’s financial markets internationally during this time, re-starting dialogue and connectivity in a post-Covid world and ensuring that HKEX was very much seen as open-for-business.”

Bonnie Chan has been designated as the new Chief Executive Officer of the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX), making her the first woman to helm the exchange.

This historic appointment reflects HKEX’s commitment to gender diversity and empowerment within its ranks. Chan’s appointment as CEO is part of a larger reshuffle within the senior ranks of the exchange, with her transition into the top job scheduled for May 2024, following the end of Nicolas Aguzin’s tenure​​​​.

Bonnie Chan is currently co-Chief Operating Officer at HKEX

Chan brings a wealth of experience to her new role at HKEX. She began her career in legal practice and then moved into the financial services sector. Before her first stint at HKEX, she was the executive director of legal and compliance at Morgan Stanley from 2003 to 2007. Chan initially joined HKEX in 2007 as head of IPO transactions, a role she held until 2010 when she moved to the law firm Davis Polk as a partner. She returned to HKEX in 2020 and has since been sharing the role of co-Chief Operating Officer​​​​.

During her previous roles at HKEX, Chan has been instrumental in various capacities, significantly contributing to the organization’s growth and strategic initiatives. Her experience and insights are expected to be invaluable as she leads HKEX in its next phase, especially at a time when the exchange is expanding its global footprint and continuing to serve as a vital bridge between Mainland China’s markets and international investors.

Chan’s appointment as CEO is particularly notable as HKEX continues to focus on international expansion and innovation in financial products. With her comprehensive background in both legal and financial sectors, she is well-positioned to guide HKEX through the dynamic and evolving landscape of global financial markets.

Nicolas Aguzin led HKEX through a significant transformation

Nicolas Aguzin joined HKEX as CEO in May 2021, coming from a robust background in the financial sector. Before joining HKEX, Aguzin served as the CEO of J.P. Morgan’s International Private Bank and was based in Hong Kong since 2012. His career at J.P. Morgan Chase began in 1990 in Buenos Aires as a financial analyst, and he held several key positions, including CEO of Latin America and CEO of J.P. Morgan, Asia Pacific, where he was responsible for all the firm’s business across 17 markets. During his time at J.P. Morgan, Aguzin was instrumental in the firm’s major expansion efforts in Asia, particularly in China, where J.P. Morgan established a comprehensive range of services and capabilities​​​​.

Under Aguzin’s leadership, HKEX continued to play a crucial role in connecting China with global markets, focusing on sustainability and supporting green investment initiatives. HKEX and its unit, the London Metal Exchange (LME), have been integral in supporting China’s market opening and the country’s green investment initiatives. Aguzin’s tenure saw the launch of new products at LME to support sustainable investment, such as contracts for metals used in electric vehicles, and a digital register called the LMEpassport to certify the sustainability credentials in metal contracts​​.

The departure of Aguzin comes at a critical time for HKEX, as the exchange group has been aggressively expanding globally, with new offices and products, and serving as a bridge to Mainland China’s markets. HKEX has seen significant growth over the last decade, especially with the Connect scheme, a trans-border investment channel that allowed Chinese and international investors to tap into each other’s markets. This scheme has been a cornerstone in HKEX’s strategy to position Hong Kong as a gateway between China and the rest of the world​.

Aguzin’s decision to not seek reappointment opens the stage for HKEX to find a new CEO who can continue to navigate the challenges and opportunities of the global financial landscape, especially in a time of dynamic changes in the markets and regulatory environments.

“On behalf of the HKEX Board, I would like to thank Nicolas for leading HKEX during a very challenging period. He has played a major role in driving the promotion of Hong Kong’s financial markets internationally during this time, re-starting dialogue and connectivity in a post-Covid world and ensuring that HKEX was very much seen as open-for-business.

“We fully respect his decision to pursue new opportunities and we wish him all the very best for the future. We look forward to working with him over the coming months to ensure a smooth transition.”

A look into HKEX’s moves since 2021

As can be found here, the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX) has seen notable advancements and strategic initiatives during the tenure of its Chief Executive, Nicolas Aguzin. Since his appointment in May 2021, HKEX has continued to expand its international presence and innovate in its offerings, aligning with the dynamic shifts in the global financial landscape.

Under Aguzin’s leadership, HKEX has significantly enhanced its connection between Mainland China’s markets and international investors. The HKEX Connect programmes have played a pivotal role, providing exclusive access to stocks, bonds, ETFs, and swaps between Hong Kong and Mainland China. A notable achievement is that over 70% of all international investments into China’s A-share equities market are held via HKEX’s Stock Connect programme. This program has provided unparalleled and reliable access to the onshore equities market, highlighting HKEX’s crucial role in bridging international investors with Chinese markets​​​​​​.

Additionally, HKEX has been actively involved in the development of new financial products and platforms. For instance, HKEX Synapse, a new integrated settlement acceleration platform, was developed to complement the global push towards settlement cycle reduction. This platform is particularly significant given the ongoing preparations in North America to move to a T+1 settlement cycle around May 2024​​. Furthermore, HKEX has launched new initiatives, such as a dual-counter model for trading shares in both Hong Kong Dollar and the Renminbi, which offer investors more flexibility and access to offshore Chinese currency pools in Hong Kong​​.

The international expansion of HKEX has been marked by the opening of new offices in key financial hubs. Roger McAvoy, who joined HKEX in August 2017, heads up its corporate subsidiary, HKEX (U.S.) LLC, overseeing business development for North America​​. These expansions are part of HKEX’s broader strategy to globalize and provide more integrated access to its suite of products and services.

In the realm of digital assets and sustainability, HKEX has made notable progress. The appointment of Andrew Loong as Head of Digital Assets signifies HKEX’s focus on expanding its digital assets ecosystem. Additionally, HKEX has been actively supporting the development of an international carbon marketplace, forming the Hong Kong International Carbon Market Council to explore climate-related opportunities​​​​.

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