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BANKING

Chinese banking: The search for fees

Chinese banks need to grow new income sources from fee-based services such as private banking, cash management, trade finance and investment banking. But they must balance a need to grab market share with their desire to avoid creating another banking bubble. Lawrence White reports from Beijing and Shanghai.

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IN UNIT 5 of a nondescript block of commercial buildings in the Dongcheng district of Beijing, after a ride in a rickety elevator with chipped bare wood on all four walls, Euromoney waits in a small meeting room. A cleaning lady enters, looks somewhat suspiciously at your correspondent, and begins to scoop water with a cup from a tin bucket and pour it over the pot plants by the window.

"Clients can hope for too much, thinking that ‘private banking’ somehow means higher returns for lower risk"

Lynn Zhang, Citic Private

Lynn Zhang, Citic Private

It does not immediately feel like the cutting edge of one of the world’s fastest-growing banking industries, or like the traditional image of discreet luxury that one associates with private banking. However, this is a new business in China. Lynn Zhang, general manager at Citic Private, enters the room smiling and in her fluent English begins to describe China’s nascent private banking industry.