The WFE's Women Leaders 2024 - Sally Kwok, Co-Head of Trading at HKEX

By: Sally Kwok, Co-Head of Trading, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited Mar 2024

Name: Sally Kwok

Organisation: Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited
Job Title:
 Co-Head of Trading


1. Brief job description

Based in Hong Kong, Sally is a Managing Director and Co-Head of Trading for HKEX. She oversees the exchange’s cash equity market and the Stock Connect programme, looking after client services, business development and trading operations. She also oversees trading rules, policies and procedures, reviewing them regularly to meet market participants’ evolving needs. Sally has a team of 75 people and she reports to the Co-COO and Head of Equities.

Sally has been with HKEX since 2008 and she has played an instrumental role in the delivery of the exchange’s key initiatives, such as Stock Connect (2014), closing auction and volatility control mechanisms (2016-2020) and the HKD-RMB Dual Counter Model (2023).

2. Short biography

Sally has 24 years of experience across management consulting and financial services. She began her career with PA Consulting, where she specialised in strategy planning and project implementation and frequently served as the firm’s representative on China projects.

Her international experience with PA Consulting spanned the U.K., Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Shanghai, Beijing and Seoul, providing her with a global perspective on industry practices and business dynamics. Sally also worked in UBS’s cash equity business and at a private equity firm prior to joining HKEX in 2008.

Born in rural China, raised in Hong Kong and educated in the U.K., Sally represents the convergence of East and West as a trilingual individual. She possesses a deep appreciation for diverse cultures and perspectives, allowing her to foster strong connections in our interconnected world.

Sally has a Master of Engineering degree from the University of Oxford, where she was awarded a scholarship.

Beyond her professional pursuits, Sally is a committee member of HKEX MOSAIC, a community to support people of different abilities. She is also an enthusiastic hiker, an avid reader and actively devotes her time to volunteering activities.

3. What were your professional highlights and challenges in 2023?

As head of the Cash Trading team in HKEX, we act as the backbone of the exchange, playing a crucial role in driving cash equity market strategies and maintaining operational excellence. Despite the uncertainties that arise from macroeconomic conditions, we are unwavering in our commitment to navigating global challenges, ensuring the smooth functioning of our markets, and bringing new opportunities to investors.

Stock Connect

Stock Connect is one of HKEX’s flagship services and a key area of focus for my team. It connects the stock exchanges of Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Shanghai, making it simpler for international investors to enter China’s extensive equity market, and vice versa, providing onshore investors with easier access to global financial markets.

In response to investors’ desire for more options, we implemented several expansionary measures within Stock Connect in 2023. These include: (1) increasing the number of investible stocks in Northbound trading to 2,760 from 1,500, and (2) including international companies listed in Hong Kong to Southbound trading. The enhancements increased the average daily turnover (ADT) of Northbound Stock Connect by 7% over 2023, despite weak market conditions. The ADT for Southbound Stock trading stayed on par with 2022’s levels.

Furthermore, we implemented various structural improvements within Stock Connect to enhance our market participants’ experience. These include: (1) adding up to 10 additional trading days to allow international markets to trade China equities during bank holidays in Hong Kong, (2) announcing the launch of block trading to enable high-volume transactions on China equities, and (3) introducing Synapse – a new settlement acceleration platform to help institutional investors cope with China’s tighter securities trading settlement requirements. These initiatives were widely appreciated by the market – reflecting our strong understanding of what clients and other market participants want to see – and we’re actively collaborating with the market to ensure that we continue to capture their evolving needs and expectations.


In our cash equity market, we launched the HKD-RMB Dual Counter Model and the Dual Counter Market Making Programme in 2023, with an initial 24 Hong Kong-listed companies offering both HKD and RMB counters. It allows market participants to instantly transact in RMB, improving market efficiency and solidifying Hong Kong’s position as a leading offshore RMB hub.

We also launched a new consultation paper seeking market feedback on our proposed approach to keeping our markets open during severe weather in Hong Kong. Local, international and mainland investors have been requesting this from us, and we are actively listening, collaborating and making a dedicated effort to fulfil their demands.

Regulators and market interactions

Many of these initiatives are multi-year projects that require constant collaboration with Hong Kong and mainland regulators, as well as input from broader market participants such as brokers, banks and hedge funds. Striking a balance between the needs of all stakeholders and successfully launching complex projects can be challenging. But as we expanded the depth and volume of our engagements over the years – i.e. by speaking to more regulators and more types of clients across a wider range of markets – we’ve built stronger trust and understanding with all stakeholders, helping us move swiftly through challenges and accelerate the pace at which we roll out new initiatives.

I’m very proud of the fact that in 2023, we delivered more projects and consultations within our cash equity market than in any previous year, making it a particularly rewarding year. In 2024, we will continue our commitment to driving new, innovative initiatives that further enhance the vibrancy and robustness of Hong Kong’s equity market.

4. Tell us about a few of your key achievements?

The successful launch of the Closing Auction Session (CAS) for the cash equity market in 2016 is one of the proudest achievements in my career. CAS is a trading mechanism that collects all the day’s orders at market closure and aggregates demand and supply information to generate the “closing price” that truly represents trading sentiment on a given day. Working along with my wonderful team, we spearheaded the development and implementation of this trading mechanism, allowing market participants to execute trades at the end of the trading day with ease and at lower cost.

Although we launched this mechanism nearly eight years ago, to this day I still get asked to talk about it at industry events and investor forums and often represent HKEX at these gathering to share our insights on the continuous development of equity markets.

The launch of Stock Connect in 2014 is another key achievement with a profound influence on Hong Kong’s market. Over the course of the past decade, Stock Connect’s average daily turnover (ADT) has surged to over HK$100 billion, accounting for around 60% of Hong Kong’s cash market ADT. Working with my dedicated team in navigating complex regulatory frameworks and incorporating them into our core operational functions, we’ve enabled the seamless integration of the Hong Kong and mainland China stock markets.

Moreover, this achievement is particularly remarkable given the challenges associated with innovating in well-established equity markets. Our strategic goal of connecting China and the world has been crucial to our success, allowing us to establish a robust and efficient trading link that has transformed the landscape of international investment in the region.

5. Who and what inspires you to achieve your professional success?

While I have encountered many individuals who have served as mentors and provided valuable advice throughout my life, my late father has been the most influential figure. Serving as a self-taught principal at a rural school in China, in the 1970s he went above and beyond by planting apple trees in a neighbouring village and sharing his knowledge with others. Through his efforts, the village transformed into a thriving apple farming centre.

Witnessing his dedication to his community has greatly influenced my leadership style. I view my team as a unified community and constantly seek ways to enhance our collective well-being, happiness and success. I strive to share my knowledge with them and work together to achieve our goals – akin to planting a seed and giving water and attention to it while waiting for the fruit to ripen.

6. How have you overcome setbacks, and what have you learned from adversity?

Setbacks are just a usual course of life, some small and some bigger. For me, when encountering setbacks, it is important to openly acknowledge and address the issues as they arise. By doing so, I am able to take proactive action and foster a collaborative environment to find solutions. Often, people are aware of the problem, but hesitate to confront or resolve it. It takes courage to be the first to raise the concern and tackle it head-on as a team.

7. What advice do you have for other women who aspire to be in leadership positions?

Believe in yourself – having confidence in yourself, and the courage to embrace bigger responsibilities, is crucial, especially as women often underestimate their abilities and feel inadequate when faced with new challenges (which I encountered too). But what I realised over the years is that taking new responsibilities is akin to strength training. Just as muscles grow stronger with increased exercise, our capabilities expand as we embrace more responsibilities. It may seem daunting at first, but our potential for growth and strength is immense.


The views, thoughts and opinions contained in this Focus article belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the WFE’s policy position on the issue, or the WFE’s views or opinions.