Financial Services


Deacons’ Financial Services Group in Hong Kong is a dedicated team of funds and regulatory lawyers with substantial experience in funds, regulatory, licensing, MPF/retirement schemes, compliance and securities matters. The team comprises eight partners and one consultant, all of whom have many years of experience in the Asian financial services sector, and over 30 other fee earners. We have our own translation and professional support team. Deacons is credited as being the market leader in Hong Kong in terms of depth of client base and range of funds we have established. Individuals in the team offer a diverse range of international and local experience and are capable of conducting transactions in English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese and Malay.


China Coverage


We have established a dedicated team of Mandarin-speaking practitioners to handle funds and financial services matters relating to the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The team advises on QFIIs, QDIIs, joint ventures, strategic alliances, compliance matters and fund establishment. We are also able to draw on the extensive experience of our China Practice Group and our offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. We act for many PRC-related groups and for international clients on RMB funds and QFII issues. We have advised numerous PRC fund managers on establishment in Hong Kong and bringing RMB investment products to the Hong Kong market.


Authorised Funds and the retails market


Deacons dominates the authorised fund market, acting for the lion’s share of international and local fund managers and asset management groups with authorised funds. Our experience in Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) fund authorisation is unparalleled in Hong Kong. We advise on all stages of the fund authorisation process, from fund structuring to authorisation, marketing and post-authorisation compliance.


We have a reputation for obtaining authorisation for new and innovative investment products in a variety of jurisdictions. The latest of our ground-breaking events include the introduction to the Hong Kong market of the first ever RMB denominated fund outside mainland China and the first fund with be authorised in Hong Kong with a product key facts statement. We have acted on the Hong Kong authorisation of the vast majority of RMB bond funds. We are market leaders in structured funds, acting for the biggest names in the market.


MPF Schemes


Deacons is the industry leader in the provision of legal services to the Mandatory Provident Fund market. It acts for the managers of numerous APIFs and is the legal adviser to MPF master trusts and industry schemes. Deacons has acted for some of these clients since their inception; others have chosen Deacons more recently in recognition of our MPF experience and commitment to the sector.

Our experience includes advising on scheme structures; assisting in the setting-up of MPF schemes and APIFs and application for authorisation by the MPFA and SFC and providing post-authorisation regulatory and compliance advice. We also advise and assist with application for approval of managers and delegates of managers of MPF schemes and APIFs.


We also act on ORSO and MPF-Exempted ORSO Schemes for sponsors, trustees, employers and fund managers in respect to various matters including changes in key operators such trustees and managers, termination and restructuring of funds.


Hedge funds


Deacons has a long and prestigious history in the hedge funds sector. We have advised on a multitude of hedge fund start-ups throughout Asia. The team acts for more than 100 managers and some of Asia’s largest hedge funds. It has close relationships with the prime brokers and hedge fund administrators.


Deacons has a reputation for assisting clients in bringing innovative products to investors. We have handled long/short, Asian debt, macro, futures, currency trading, property, RMB and numerous China funds, an emerging market debt for equity swap fund, funds investing in India, Pakistan and other emerging markets, hedge and private equity hybrids, an art fund and a wine fund, funds with multiple share classes and multiple feeders, and funds with innovative fee structures. We acted for the majority of the hedge funds authorised for sale to the public.


Private equity


Private equity funds are another important sector of the practice. Deacons leverages its considerable experience to assist private equity groups by pulling together the specialisations of the firm in investment funds, mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance and human resources and pensions. We regularly work on setting up private equity and venture capital funds, and have assisted with the establishment of numerous Cayman limited partnership funds. We regularly review private equity funds on behalf of institutional limited partners.




Deacons has assisted more than 60 groups to establish fund management, research and/or distribution operations in Hong Kong. We have acted for a number of leading US and European private equity and hedge fund groups in setting up their Hong Kong operations. We also act for private banks and wealth management providers. We have a dedicated team of licensing staff, many of whom have a regulatory background. The team handles SFC licensing applications and ongoing licence maintenance related applications and notifications on a daily basis.




Deacons’ Compliance Services team comprises eleven regulatory and compliance professionals – all with significant breadth and depth of knowledge and experience. All members of the team were previously employed by the SFC and/or have an in-house legal, audit or compliance background. The team is able to work with management or in-house legal and compliance departments on both day-to-day compliance issues as well as providing practical regulatory and compliance advice on specific projects. The team offers a full advisory, compliance and regulatory risk management service to traditional and alternative asset managers, private banks and wealth management providers operating throughout the Asian region. The team works with clients on regulatory compliance due diligence reviews and gap analyses, drafting and reviewing compliance and operating documentation, creating and reviewing compliance systems, best practice and internal control reviews, ad hoc regulatory and compliance advisory matters and staff training. We can also provide compliance retainer services.


Regulatory investigations and enforcement actions


In conjunction with our Litigation Department, we advise clients in relation to securities and regulatory investigations and enforcement matters. We have advised clients, including retail banks, in connection with SFC investigations into issues of mis-selling of investment products, unauthorised advertisements of investment products, market-timing and late trading issues, and alleged failures of internal controls.


Disclosure of interests


We regularly advise clients on their obligations under Hong Kong’s disclosure of interests’ regime. We help develop procedures to ensure compliance with disclosure obligations, and assist with ongoing preparation and filing of disclosure notices. We have experience in advising on the complex attribution and disaggregation issues that arise for global fund management groups and investment banks and upon acquisition or restructuring of a group. Deacons also assists clients in dealing with the SFC and taking corrective measures upon discovery of systemic breaches of their disclosure obligations.


Community and industry involvement


Members of our Group serve on a number of committees of industry bodies on a pro bono basis, including:


  • the HKEx/SFC committee of the Hong Kong Investment Funds Association;
  • the Investment Funds Committee of the International Bar Association;
  • the Investment Products and Financial Services Committee of the Law Society;
  • the Executive Committee, the China Sub-Committee and the Regulatory Sub-Committee of the Hong Kong Chapter of Alternative Investment Management Association; and
  • the China Committee of the Hong Kong Retirement Schemes Association (HKRSA).
  • Deacons acts as honorary legal counsel to the HK Trustees Association and the HKRSA.


The 2011 edition of Chambers Asia describes Deacons as “Dominating the retail and hedge fund sectors”, with a source describing the team as “Efficient, to the point, practical and prompt”. Chambers Asia ranks Deacons as a leading law firm in the area of Financial Services and Investment Funds in Hong Kong (2009, 2010 and 2011 editions) and Investment Funds in Asia-wide regions (2010 and 2011 editions).


Deacons was awarded InterContinental Finance Magazine’s Legal Excellence Awards 2011 – Law Firm of the Year for Private Funds.


“Deacons has been the leader among onshore legal firms in Asia both pre- and post-financial crisis. The firm boasts an established and experienced legal team and, with three representative offices there, is also considered to have a specialisation in China.” Eurekahedge – Offshore and Onshore Law Firms Used by Asian Hedge Fund Launches – March 2011.

Deacons’ Financial Services Practice Group has consistently secured the top rankings in Asia Pacific Legal 500 (2000 – 2012 editions), an annual independent survey of legal players in the Asia Pacific region.


In 2011, Deacons was awarded “Financial Services Law Firm of the Year, Asia” by the London based publication, Finance Monthly. The firm was also awarded the “Investment Funds Law Firm of the Year Hong Kong”; by the same publication in 2010.

In 2010, Deacons was awarded “Asian-Counsel Firm of the Year Alternative Investment Funds in Hong Kong”.


In the PLC Investment Funds Handbook (2010 edition), Deacons was ranked as a leading law firm in the area of Investment Funds.

In 2010, Deacons was awarded ALB Leading Firm for Private Equity and Venture Capital by Asian Legal Business.


Notable Practitioners


Taylor Hui


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