It's hard to believe now, given how events have unfolded over the subsequent 24 years. But back in the months and years leading up to 1997, as preparations were underway for the British colony of Hong Kong to be "handed" back to China, there were genuine concerns that Hong Kong would lose its place as one of Asia’s most important and booming cities.
In those days, China wasn’t open to the outside world the way it soon began to be, and there was a sense that Hong Kong would become like the rest of that country was then – rather than the booming British outpost, and gateway to China, that it was considered to be...
...And, as the "handover" date approached, many businesses and people increasingly hedged their bets – with the result that the only ones were willing to take jobs in Hong Kong, or so legend would have it in such industries as financial services, were those who couldn’t get a job or flourish career-wise in London.
This, it was explained at the time, was the origin of the acronym "FILTH", which was applied, jokingly (and mainly by Brits, to those of their fellow countrymen who were willing to take their chances): "Failed in London, Try HongKong".
Things have changed a lot, obviously, since then in Hong Kong, as elsewhere. Nevertheless, new acronyms are always emerging in Expatland – as a quick glance at our "Essential Financial Acronyms for Americans Living Abroad" page reveals.
Our recent additions, for example, have included such newish ones as "TCK" ("third culture kid," used to refer to those children who were raised in a culture other than that of their parents, or country of nationality, for a significant portion of their childhood, and who typically also live in a different environment during a significant part of their childhoods); "ATCKs" ("adult third-culture kids"); and "BATs", which refers to China’s answer to the U.S. internet/tech giants that comprise the “FAANG” acronym (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Alphabet") – specifically, Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent.
Then there's that favorite acronym of your local wealth manager, "HENRY" ("High earners, not rich yet") and HENRY's friend, "LOMBARD" ("Loads of money but a real dummy") (or something like that...)
As some of these examples suggest, we don't stick just to financial acronyms in this collection of ours, particularly as some of the best ones are just general "Expatland" acronyms, as these can be useful to know, and aren’t always obvious to newbie expats.
Anyway, as of today, we're adding a few new ones. Do you know, for example, what the ATR is? That's one of them.
We've also added FOMO; KIFID; NTU; NRA; RINO; and WWFT.
But we are well aware that there are lots more Expatland acronyms out there that we don't know about. (Yet!) Some may be specific to particular countries, such as Singapore, where acronyms are practically an art form. (There, the Marina Bay Sands Casino, for example, is usually referred to as the MBS).
(And btw, we think acronyms should be upper-case, never mind what some of those other news websites do. Just ask your high school English teacher, or Spellcheck...)