Financial and Business Services sectors in Malaysia

The Malaysian financial and business services sector is well developed and well regulated. Due to the English language and legal system, shared history and education links, Malaysian professionals are very familiar with the UK and predisposed to doing business with British firms.

Market overview

UK exports of services to Malaysia were worth around £800m in 2011 and British institutions are big investors, with HSBC, Standard Chartered and Prudential all having large operations established over many decades. The Malaysian financial and business services market is generally open to international business. Though some restrictions and equity limits apply to foreign investors, these have been reducing in recent years as part of the Government’s policy of liberalisation, aimed at attracting investment to boost Malaysia’s competitiveness. The capital Kuala Lumpur is the main centre, offering good regional connectivity and a competitive costs base. Many of the major global players in banking, accounting and insurance have operations in Kuala Lumpur and the major Malaysian banks are growing regional operations in ASEAN. The legal services market has been closed, but is expected to open to foreign law firms in early 2013. A key feature of the Malaysian financial system is the Islamic finance industry. Kuala Lumpur is the leading centre for Shariah finance in Asia and the industry receives significant support and promotion by the Malaysian Government.

Key opportunities

  • Malaysia is Asia’s leading centre for Islamic finance, offering opportunities for firms with expertise in Sharia finance.

  • The legal services market is opening up for foreign lawyers, which will enable UK firms to open offices in Malaysia or partner with local law firms.

  • The Tun Razak Exchange – a new financial district for Kuala Lumpur, will offer tax concessions and other benefits to firms looking to establish operations.

Latest export opportunities in the Financial & Professional Services sector

Latest export opportunities in Malaysia

Getting into the market

Building relationships is key to business success in Malaysia. UK firms interested in the market will need to allocate the time and resource for regular visits, in order to maintain relationships with customers and partners.

While many subsectors within financial and business services in Malaysia are open, equity limits and licence requirements apply in some areas.

UKTI can assist with information and introductions to facilitate market entry.

More about doing business in Malaysia


Market intelligence is critical when doing business overseas, and UKTI can provide bespoke market research and support during overseas visits though our chargeable Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS).

To commission research or for general advice about the market, get in touch with our specialists in country – or contact your local international trade team.

  • Matthew Smith, British High Commission. Tel: + 60 3 2170 2232 or email:

Contact your local international trade team

UKTI Events

UKTI runs a range of events for exporters, including seminars in the UK, trade missions to overseas markets and support for attendance at overseas trade shows.

Latest events in the Financial & Professional Services sector

Latest events in Malaysia

Major Events

Kuala Lumpur is a major international conference centre and there are regular financial services events, especially in Islamic finance.

The Lord Mayor of London is expected to visit Kuala Lumpur in December 2013, accompanied by a business delegation.

Useful links

More about OMIS and other UKTI services for exporters

Sectors: Financial & Professional Services
Countries: Malaysia
Export Action Plan