Asiamoney China Private Banking Awards 2017: Customers drive China's wealth managers to new heights

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China’s private banking industry is growing in leaps and bounds. High and ultra-high net-worth mainland customers are increasingly mobile, demanding best-in-class service from their financial providers. Banks are adapting to the changing world, rolling out innovative and sophisticated services to their high-end clientele. In recognition of China’s advances in the field, Asiamoney is proud to announce the winners of its awards for best mainland private banks for 2016.


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Overall best private bank
Client relationship and management servicing
Best boutique private bank
Best private bank for intergenerational wealth transfer
Best private bank for global investment exposure
Best private bank international network
Best private bank for risk control
Best private bank for new product development
Best wealth management institution
Best private bank for family offices
Best private bank for innovation in technology
Best private bank for transparency
Best private bank for emerging markets investment exposure
View the full Asiamoney issue

Award winners


Overall best private bank: ICBC Private Banking 

Staff numbers at ICBC’s private bank have risen from just 100 in 2008, the year the bank secured the first onshore private banking licence in China, to 5,000 today, serving 76,000 high-net-worth individuals and more than 1,300 ultra-high net-worths, with cumulative assets of Rmb1.2 trillion ($175 billion). In the six months to end-June 2016, total client assets under management jumped 22%. 

ICBC Private Banking has also become an industry flag bearer, improving its risk control systems, drawing on the strength of the bank’s core brand and working systematically to improve its corporate culture and governance levels. 

It was the first commercial lender to open a full private banking branch in Shanghai’s Free Trade Zone. And it has expanded its repertoire, catering to family offices and offering expert advice, ranging from financial and legal issues, to tax and international education planning, to inheritance guidance.

ICBC Private Banking also offers a growing range of softer services, including wealth-education courses for second- and third-generation family members, organising fashion and arts events, and helping to source best-in-class health care provision in multiple markets.

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Client relationship and management servicing: China Merchants Bank Private Banking

Shenzhen-based China Merchants Bank boasts 49 private banking centres across 30 cities, including in Hong Kong and New York, staffed by more than 1,000 professionals. Assets under management totalled Rmb1.42 trillion ($205 billion) at end-June 2016, up 13.7% year on year. 

But it is the bank’s level of customer care that really stands out. CMB’s ‘1+N’ investment consulting service matches a qualified private banker with every client, while the bank’s wider team boasts specialists in fields ranging from securities trading and trust products to funds and insurance. 

The bank also provides, directly or indirectly, a wide range of non-financial services, including tax and legal advice, and guidance on buying foreign real estate. CMB’s ‘4-Step Spiral Lifting Working Method’ is designed to get clients involved with their own wealth planning by helping them to understand investment products and to analyze market conductions.

China Merchants Bank offers customers real-time advice: top-tier clients are able to reach their personal private banking adviser from any location, at any time, day or night. That’s the kind of excellence in customer service only offered by the very best private banks

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Best boutique private bank: China Citic Bank Private Banking

China Citic Bank is far from being the mainland’s largest lender, but what it does – specifically, providing elite financial advice to high net-worth clients in China and beyond – it does very well. 

Owned by Citic Group, one of the country’s oldest and best-run investment firms, China Citic Bank now boasts 34 branches stretching from Shanghai to Hong Kong, and Singapore to New York. Customers are granted unrestricted access to its private banking centres, as well as premium lounge facilities at a number of leading global airports, complimentary limousine services, and higher cash rebates on purchases. Everything, in short, that the modern high-earning global jetsetter would expect. 

But it is the core private banking services that really stand out. China Citic Bank hosts regular seminars and events, built around keynote speeches from prestigious economic, cultural and philosophical thinkers. It works hard to assemble investment portfolios that suit each of its clients, tapping into yield-enhanced products, leveraging idle assets and servicing clients wherever they are in the world. 

Last but not least, China Citic Bank provides elite trust and tax planning advisory services to ensure that client wealth is passed securely and profitably from one generation to the next.

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Best private bank for intergenerational wealth transfer: Ping An Private Banking 


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Bonnie Lam, Ping An Private Bank
Part of the widely respected Ping An Group, which started out in insurance before expanding its remit to include asset management and banking, Ping An Private Banking, led by Bonnie Lam, has chosen to focus heavily on high-end clients. 


Ping An Bank consistently delivers outstanding intergenerational wealth management and private banking advice to high net-worth clients. Geared toward helping family businesses protect wealth and hand it, unfettered, to the next generation, Ping An helps clients to integrate onshore and offshore trust operations and custodian services. 

The Shenzhen-headquartered lender also offers a one-stop shop for clients looking for high-end legal, tax and trust advice and planning, while guaranteeing comprehensive inheritance protection and all-round investment advisory services. 

In recent years the lender launched the ‘Ping An Chinese Family Businesses Inheritance Award’ – developed in collaboration with the PBC School of Finance at Tsinghua University and professional services giant Deloitte – to highlight worthy examples of investing excellence among family-run Chinese enterprises.

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Best private bank for global investment exposure: ICBC Private Banking

Few Chinese lenders can compete at any level with the global scale and reach of ICBC’s investment products. The Beijing-based lender’s private banking division is often at the front of the queue when it comes to rolling out new services. It was the first mainland lender to launch a global investment fund in Luxembourg. Likewise, it was one of the first Chinese banks to establish an overseas investment fund platform. 

Customers can tap into ICBC Private Banking’s network, securing best-in-class wealth management services. ICBC’s private banking network is growing apace. It has expanded its offshore private banking centres, ranging from Hong Kong to Singapore and London to New York. 

ICBC is now the world’s 23rd largest private banking outfit. And this is just the start. ICBC Private Banking already boasts the widest global reach of any Chinese private bank. Scroll forward a few years, and it is likely to be ranked as one of the world’s largest and most powerful managers of high-end wealth.

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Best private bank international network: Bank of China Private Banking

Founded in 1929, Bank of China was the first Chinese financial institution to set up an offshore branch (in London), and the first to expand heavily into Hong Kong – a city where it has more than 300 branches and where its brand is one of three to adorn the retail banknotes. 

Nor has it lost its first-mover status when it comes to wealth management. Bank of China Private Banking boasts 36 private banking branches in China, and four more in Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore. The future is bright, too: the bank is likely to open private banking centres in most of the world’s leading financial centres in the years to come. 

Bank of China also continues to act as a financial bridge between China and the rest of the world for its high net-worth customers, many of whom are engaged directly in international business and trade.

Private banking customers can secure help and guidance with everything from investment services to real estate purchases to local visa services. BOC Private Banking also offers an elite range of services to the children of the most valued clients, a list that includes the chance to meet senior UN officials, secure prized internships and be tutored in the finer points of international business etiquette.

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Best private bank for risk control: Agricultural Bank of China Private Banking


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Jinqiang Yin, Agricultural Bank of China


Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) has come a long way in a short period of time. The one-time rural lender has become a lean and well-run domestic banking brand with more than one eye on a greater global presence. 

Its overall private banking division is expanding rapidly, too. But one aspect of its wealth management operations stands out: its ability to control and temper unwanted risk. 

Under Jinqiang Yin, ABC Private Banking’s ‘Firm forward’ scheme works to control risk management. Since its formation, no large risk event has occurred within the lender’s private banking division. 

ABC’s comprehensive and top-down risk management structure separates front-, middle- and back-end operations, delineating and defining a risk-management system that boasts clear functionality and responsibility, and which brings risk control systems to bear on the full range of each asset portfolio. 

Risk control is further improved by a decision-making mechanism set up by Agricultural Bank of China Private Banking to improve internal control procedures. 

A final layer of security is provided by the parent group. The private banking business is absorbed into ABC’s overarching risk-management system, which ensures key risk identification, effective cooperative control and comprehensive management.

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Best private bank for new product development: Guotai Junan Securities


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Yang Dehong, Guotai Junan
Shanghai-based Guotai Junan Securities offers a full range of services, ranging from investment banking and securities trading to a popular and influential private banking division. 


Guotai Junan is increasingly focused on providing wealth management advice and services to its high net-worth clients, boasting services ranging from futures and derivatives to securities broking and investment banking. 

Guotai Junan’s team of 2,000 professionally trained wealth management consultants, led by chairman Yang Dehong, offer more than 4,000 types of investment products to clients, many centred around securities trading and real estate funds. It conducts more than 100 regular wealth management workshops and regularly wins plaudits for its award-winning research team. 

Guotai Junan aims to expand its private banking reach both onshore and offshore, especially into the US market soon, offering offshore clients its full range of top-end wealth management services.

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Best wealth management institution: China Minsheng Bank Private Banking

Launched just two decades ago, China Minsheng Bank has adopted a different approach to banking from some of its peers, focusing on lending to small and medium-sized enterprises and, in recent years, on offering high-quality wealth-management services. 

China Minsheng Private Banking now has 40 wealth management service offices dotted around mainland China, the first of which was opened in 2008. The key has been to build a multi-level customer service and asset management system, geared toward high and ultra-high net-worth clients with personal financial assets over Rmb8 million ($1.16 million). 

But the biggest shift in the bank’s long-term approach to wealth management occurred in August 2016, when CMBCI, the international division of China Minsheng Bank, bought a stake in the Asian private wealth management division of Carret Private Investments, one of New York’s most powerful and influential high-end wealth managers. 

The stated aim of Carret Asia’s managing partner and founder Kenneth Ho is to make the alliance one of the best wealth management services in China. A willingness to innovate and invest wisely means the future looks bright for China Minsheng Bank Private Banking.

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Best private bank for family offices: China Merchants Bank Private Banking 

Enriching family wealth and passing it on to the next generation is at the heart of China Merchants Bank (CMB) Private Banking offering. It wants to provide professional investment consulting services and unique investment opportunities to high net-worth clients. 

China Merchants Bank Private Banking offers a wide variety of high-end client services, from family trust and tax planning, to legal consulting, corporate finance and offshore financial services. Its family office service – an increasingly important function for private banks everywhere – was first unveiled in 2012. It now serves families with total assets of at least Rmb500 million ($72 million) and at least Rmb50 million in assets under active management by the bank. 

CMB Private Banking offers tailored and unique wealth planning solutions to family offices, including wealth inheritance and tax-planning advice, legal consulting and insurance planning. 

As of October 2016, CMB Private Banking was managing the wealth of more than 200 Chinese family offices – more than any other mainland lender. The bank continues to innovate and build on its first-mover advantage, by popularising family trusts, exploring discretionary account services and promoting its increasingly sophisticated cross-border financial services.

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Best private bank for innovation in technology: China Guangfa Bank 

China Guangfa Bank (CGB), formerly known as Guangdong Development Bank, has always been an innovator. One of the first mainland banks to secure investment from a big foreign competitor, it was an early devotee of the universal principles of data analysis, operational efficiencies and customer service. 

CGB’s long-standing determination to be a first-class commercial bank has led it to invest heavily in information technology and to focus on providing lending services to small and medium-sized enterprises. At end-2015, CGB boasted total assets of Rmb2 trillion ($290 billion), with 40 branches nationwide. 

But it is on the private banking side, where it offers high-end services to clients with at least Rmb6 million in net financial assets, that China Guangfa Bank has made great strides in recent years. It launched its full private banking services division in 2013, building on the knowledge accrued within its award-winning retail banking operations and providing customers with a full range of diversified financial products, transnational professional consulting and customised investment services. 

CGB continues to innovate, investing in internal training and research and development, becoming one of the first mainland issuers of green bonds, and rolling out family trust products that aim to mitigate risk and boost returns on investment.

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Best private bank for transparency: Shanghai Pudong Development Bank 

Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, founded in 1993, has always placed information and data transparency at the heart of its operations. The focus of the lender, headquartered and listed in Shanghai, is to provide high-end services to wealthier, urbanized customers based in China’s leading financial centre. 

SPDB notes in its 2015 annual report that it is constantly looking to increase transparency and improve governance levels. Nowhere is transparency more central to its governing ethos than when it comes to its private banking services. 

In recent years, it has rolled out precious metals funds and a host of high-end investment products, all outlined in its interim and annual reports and in meticulously compiled portfolio reports, tailored and issued to each of its high net-worth customers. 

Building on its presence in Hong Kong, SPDB’s private banking division offers offshore insurance policies, insurance policy financing and a host of offshore financing products, along with family trust and family office services to its more than 15,000 private banking customers. The bank is also pushing ahead with plans to deepen its wealth management business, build new cash-management features and offer enhanced private banking services.

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Best private bank for emerging markets investment exposure: Bank of China Private Banking


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Min Liu, Bank of China Private Banking
Bank of China boasts 36 private banking branches in mainland China, as well as private banking outlets in Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore. 


No mainland lender betters Bank of China’s global emerging markets reach. Its general manager is Min Liu. In Asia, it boasts two full-service banking branches in each of Thailand, Cambodia and Kazakhstan, along with four in Malaysia and one apiece in each of Vietnam, Mongolia and the Philippines. 

BOC also has three outlets in Russia, along with branches in Hungary, Dubai and Bahrain. In the long run, the group’s clear ambition is to marry its global reach with its increasingly sophisticated private banking operations, providing wealth management services to customers in leading emerging markets, and to emerging-market clients with accounts and assets held in developed-market cities. 

With so much of the world’s new capital, millionaires and multinationals being born, formed and located in developing markets, this focus on the emerging world could give Bank of China a comparative advantage in the years to come


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Each issue of Asiamoney contains: 

  • in-depth reports on the banking sectors of up to six countries in the region, in conjunction with awards for the best banks in each of them
  • interviews with leading bank chief executives and chairmen, as well as heads of state, finance ministers and central bank governors
  • profiles of the region’s leading investment banks
  • industry-defining benchmark surveys

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