"Investors would love to see Shenzhen come online," said Nick Ronalds, head of equities at the Asia Securities and Investments Financial Markets Association. "Shenzhen is home to smaller, newer, more exciting companies."
Undeterred by the slow start of Stock Connect, Beijing policymakers are rushing to get the new connection in place as quickly as possible to boost the chances of having Chinese shares included in the MSCI emerging market index, the main benchmark for emerging market stocks.
If China were to be included following the MSCI bi-annual index review due in June, billions of foreign dollars would flow into Chinese stocks from fund managers who model their portfolios on the benchmark.
Reform test bed
Shenzhen, a metropolis of 14 millions within commuting distance of Hong Kong, is best known for being at the center of Deng Xiaoping's 1980s experiment with capitalism.
Since then, the port city - a center of the salt trade in imperial China - has positioned itself at the bleeding edge of financial market reform, culminating in 2009 with the launch of the ChiNext growth board for high-growth companies.
The index, which boasts industrial robotics champion Siasun, movie studio Huayi Brothers and a host of dynamic biotechnology, aviation and software companies, has outperformed the Shanghai Composite Index in 11 out of 18 quarters since 2010.
That could attract foreign funds wary of investing in the state-owned financial giants that dominate larger rival Shanghai, said Ding Yuan, an accounting professor at China Europe International Business School in Shanghai who also runs a hedge fund.
Shanghai stocks, which surged more than 40 percent in the last quarter of 2014, tumbled nearly 8 percent on Monday as financial shares took a beating after regulators tightened rules on trading with borrowed cash. The ChiNext fell 0.5 percent, while the broader Shenzhen market dipped more than 3 percent.
Despite its attractions, the Shenzhen stock market, home to some of the most speculative Chinese investors, is not for the faint-hearted.
For one thing, the smaller size of most of the companies makes them intrinsically more volatile on a price basis than big blue chips - one reason domestic speculators prefer them.