2022 WiFA Spotlight Series: Today we would like to introduce Clara Chiu, CEO, QReg Advisory Ltd, who shares with WiFA her experience with mentors and volunteering, what gives her hope every day, and much more.

Tell us about your background and the journey to your current position and organization. 

I always believe that we should all live life to the fullest. I enjoy the different sceneries during a life journey and striving for a thrilling and impactful professional career is one of my goals in life.

I started my career as a lawyer and then joined the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) as a financial regulator.  Leaving my last position as Head of Fintech and Director of Licensing of the SFC to set up my own consulting firm QReg Advisory was not an easy decision.  It meant giving up a prestigious and secure job after 14 years’ service.  

Being the core architect, initiating and writing Hong Kong’s virtual asset regulatory regulations during my tenure at the SFC was definitely the most remarkable achievement of my career to date. It was fulfilling to see that my efforts have helped Hong Kong to be in a pioneering position in the virtual asset regulatory realm.

My current role as a strategic regulatory advisor is in fact a continuation of my previous career “mission” – fully utilising my knowledge, experience and skills to help the growth of the virtual asset market.  I consider what I can do for the virtual asset industry to be even more than what I could have done if I were to stay at the SFC. Although the virtual asset industry is nascent, it, to a certain extent, overlaps with the traditional financial market. Operating a virtual asset business is therefore not that simple as one has to navigate amongst the business, legal, regulatory and government policy areas. 

Back when I was a regulator, I wanted to create greater direct impact on and contribute to the virtual asset market development. This aspiration of mine had kept me motivated throughout my professional life. I finally decided to take a leap of faith and activated my entrepreneurial spirit in setting up my company. As a strategic regulatory advisor, I endeavour to assist virtual asset businesses by providing innovative solutions so they can navigate the complicated and evolving regulatory realms.

Mentors play an important role in the developments of many careers. If you have/had a mentor, what is the one take away message or inspiration that he/she passed on to you?

Great mentors are hard to come by, but I am very fortunate to have met one in my professional career at the SFC. Julia, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the SFC, whom I consider both a mentor and a friend, forged a culture at work that made people feel purposeful, motivated, and energised. She often empowered people around her in the workplace to bring forward new ideas, and she herself was fearless to adopt new changes with no burden of moving away from bureaucratic and conventional practices. Her management style and work attitude have had a strong influence on me. 

The pandemic continues to bring new challenges into our homes and workplace. How are you adapting to these changes in terms of volunteering within your community or workplace?

The importance of being adaptable and resilient to new challenges is reflected by the pandemic. I had only opened my physical office for 2 weeks when Hong Kong was hit by the fifth wave of the pandemic with thousands of infected patients daily.  People started to work from home, and it felt somewhat strange to have an empty office just shortly after moving in. Whilst starting my company right at the peak of the fifth wave meant that I had to embrace various challenges, I also realised my setback was nothing compared to the struggles of some other communities, especially the ones faced by the underprivileged in the pandemic. I avidly support my friend’s charity organisation, Xu Shan Charitable Foundation, which dedicates much of its resources to providing pandemic relief for the elderly and less privileged children.

What gets you out of bed every day, either professionally or personally? What gives you hope?

Life is full of surprises and they are for one to discover through being proactive.  As such, what motivates me every morning is believing that each day brings new friends, knowledge and    adventures. The financial market is ever evolving and the virtual asset space is moving particularly fast.  Each morning I feel refreshed by the idea of having the opportunities to learn something new from the market.  Another thing that excites me is having been able to cross paths with new people constantly in my career. It gives me great joy to have interesting conversations with them and it amazes me how there would always be something new to learn from every individual.