With a substantially bigger and better-resourced presence in mainland China than any other foreign bank, HSBC has made no secret of its ambition to establish its private banking business as the country’s foremost international wealth manager, a key milestone in its mission to achieve a similar dominance across the wider Asian region.
To achieve this, HSBC has committed one third of its total planned Asia-focused private banking development spending to expand its onshore resources in China. HSBC Global Private Banking is set to extend its presence in mainland China well beyond its current Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou hubs in the next five years.
As part of this strategic expansion, a massive pan-Asian recruitment drive is underway, a move that will add 5,000 client-facing wealth management and private banking staff by 2025. With the hiring of relationship managers, investment counsellors and specialists, HSBC can better support affluent, high-net-worth (HNW) and ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) clients in mainland China, Hong Kong and Singapore. This commitment will also double the size of HSBC Global Private Banking’s wealth management staff in the mainland.
Key Strategic Appointment
Perhaps the most crucial move with regards to achieving the bank’s aspirations is the appointment of Jackie Mau in August as Head of Global Private Banking, Mainland China at HSBC.
Previously Regional Head of UHNW for HSBC’s Global Private Banking Team, Mau believes the time is right to further enhance the group’s private banking and wealth management services in China.
“While it’s fair to say that the market has been quite volatile, a development that has made many of our high-net-worth clients take a defensive stance, we are now at what I’d term the mid-cycle phase,” Mau says. “This is the point where risk diversification becomes highly advisable, something we can clearly help with. At the same time, China’s domestic consumption is surging. Shopping malls are teeming and demand for luxury goods remains impressively robust. For our global clients, a little exposure in China would definitely help bolster their portfolios.”
Mau also believes that mainland China’s ongoing macro-economic development will, ultimately, usher in increased demand for HSBC Global Private Banking’s diverse service offerings.
“HSBC Global Private Banking positions itself across a wide client continuum from high-net-worth individuals to their ultra-high-net-worth counterparts,” Mau says. “For our more affluent investors, we have a dedicated raft of professional consultants and investment advisers available. They can help with any arising wealth management issues, while also leveraging the support of our Hong Kong- and Singapore-based specialists from the philanthropy advisory and charitable service teams for those families or individuals looking for the most efficient and effective ways to give back to their communities, shaping a better and more sustainable future.”
Digitalisation, ESG and the GBA
Three factors are widely perceived to deliver significant changes to mainland China’s massive wealth management market. These are the growing preference for enhanced digital engagement channels, an increased commitment to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) aligned opportunities on the part of mainland investors, and the prioritisation of the huge Greater Bay Area (GBA)—comprising Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau—as one of the country’s key growth drivers over the coming years. Mau sees all three as representing an opportunity for HSBC Global Private Banking to take a lead, distinguish itself from its competition and deliver clear benefits to its clients.
On the innovation front, the bank is heavily investing to develop a new generation of digital capabilities that will meet—if not exceed—the expectations of the country’s highly tech-savvy investors. “China’s second generation HNW individuals, as well as successful new economy entrepreneurs, all want to interact with their banks in quite a different way to the channels private banks have been accustomed to,” Mau says. “Looking to meet this challenge head on, we are developing a new generation of robust digital platforms that will allow our clients to access a host of online services, including virtual meetings with relationship managers, and the execution of any required transactions.”
In terms of ESG, HSBC Global Private Banking again prides itself on taking a proactive approach, anticipating its client requirements and evolving the required products, services and solutions in time to meet emerging demand.
Acknowledging the growing importance of ESG in investment portfolios, Mau says, “While our unparalleled global and regional reach allows us to onboard a comprehensive portfolio of ESG funds, our commitment goes beyond that. As a group, ESG is very much part of our DNA. This is reflected in our sustained support for a wide variety of related communities, education and environmental protection projects.”
The GBA is also very much a core element in HSBC Global Private Banking’s onward strategy. Recognising the opportunity offered by a region that is already home to one fifth of China UHNW individuals, plans are already in place to significantly expand the bank’s presence within its borders.
“In addition to our existing strengths in Hong Kong and our GBA Wealth Management Connect service, we’re recruiting up to 3,000 personal wealth planners within four years to scale the Group’s mobile wealth planning service in mainland China,” Mau says. “We are also looking to help meet the needs of entrepreneurs via such capital management initiatives as HSBC GBA Business Credit Connect. In short, we believe we have the key building blocks to emerge as the dominant player within the region.”
Talent, Talent, Talent
As to the wider challenge of securing an equally preeminent position across the mainland China market, Mau is confident that one key element of HSBC Global Private Banking’s strategy that would allow the bank to achieve its goal is talent.
“Recruiting, developing and retaining the right talent is at the very heart of our strategic growth plan,” Mau says. “As the wealth management sector in mainland China is still in its infancy, we will work with local talent and supplement with the best from Hong Kong and throughout Asia. We will also nurture a new generation of graduate trainees from local universities in mainland China as a sign of our long-term commitment to the country. In the end, whether you are a local client looking to go global or an overseas investor looking for an exposure in the China market, you can be confident that HSBC Global Private Banking’s depth of resources, experience and reach will more than exceed your expectations.”
The information contained in this article has not been reviewed in the light of your individual circumstances and is for information purposes only. It does not purport to provide legal, taxation or other advice and should not be taken as such. No client or other reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of the content of this article without seeking specific professional advice. Issued by The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited.