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China’s wealthy find identity in growth

Recent reports by UBS and consultancy Bain set out to explain who China’s high net-worth individuals are, what kind of private banking services they want and how local and global lenders can best serve them.

Photo: iStock

Much ink has been used writing about wealth management in China. Most stories focus on the pace of growth of personal assets and the industry’s vast potential. They typically analyze an ever-shifting regulatory landscape or explain what providers must do to adapt to its dual offshore/onshore nature, courtesy of a closed capital account.

But few zoom in on the one factor without which none of this chatter would matter – the actual customer.

A couple of recent reports seek to redress this and paint a picture of personal wealth. They tell us who China’s rich are (admittedly using broad strokes) and also what they want, what makes them tick and how private banks and wealth managers can win their business and keep them happy.

The first report, ‘The pursuit of China’s wealthy’, was published by UBS on January 27.

Part of the Swiss lender’s Q-Series, the report is based on a survey of 300 mainland high net-worth (HNW) individuals, each with at least Rmb7 million ($1.08 million) in investable financial assets.

It kicks off with some suitably eye-popping numbers. The authors tip the total investable wealth of China’s HNW population to be about 150% higher in 2025, at Rmb116 trillion, than it was in 2019.

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Elliot Wilson is Greater China Editor and Private Banking and Wealth Management Editor. He joined the magazine in 2020 having been a regular contributor focusing on China and the Indian subcontinent, Russia and Eastern Europe/the CIS. He is based in Hong Kong.
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