Taiwan's best domestic bank 2019: CTBC Bank
The clustered skyscrapers at CTBC’s futuristic headquarters in Taipei’s Nangang district betray the reality that the enterprise housed within is just a bank. With its shopping malls, branded stores and dedicated infrastructure integrated into Taipei’s grid, it feels more like a miniature city here, or at the very least an important government ministry complex. Which, in many respects, CTBC is.
Its owners, the Koo dynasty, have never been far from the nexus of power in Taiwan, regardless of who is wielding it. The Koos’ influence derives from the money machine that is Taiwan’s most profitable bank – still widely known to Taiwanese as ChinaTrust. Though CTBC’s still-handsome returns were slightly down in 2018, then so too were Taiwan’s; the island became collateral damage in US president Donald Trump’s trade war with mainland China, which is Taiwan’s notional enemy as well as its biggest trading partner. But taxed profits of NT$35.73 billion ($1.14 billion) at CTBC, the country’s biggest privately owned bank, were solid in this tough year on the island. As Taiwan’s mature economy endures its sustained slowdown, it helps CTBC that its non-performing loans have been pushed down to an industry near-low of just 0.24% of the total domestic loan book.
Under Daniel Wu’s no-nonsense stewardship, CTBC is well-placed to sail around further ill trade winds. Across 14 countries, CTBC has built Taiwan banking’s most extensive foreign network, which contributed 38% of group profit this year. That is targeted to rise to 45% by 2021, a buffer against problems at home.
Notably, CTBC is the only foreign bank to own a standalone bank in Japan, Tokyo Star, a testimony to its regional clout and standing.
In private banking, CTBC has pushed hard to capture Taiwan’s rising wealth, particularly in Taipei, which boasts the world’s eighth-highest concentration of ultra-high net-worth individuals (generally deemed as having more than $30 million in net worth), according to the international property agency Knight Frank. In 2018, Swiss bank UBS had identified 35 Taiwanese billionaires.
CTBC launched a NT$150 million ($5 million) net wealth segment, with its Private Privilege model in 2018, serviced by a new dedicated team of relationship managers. CTBC says total assets under management for this sector doubled in 2018. Moreover, the bank boasts, its client turnover rate is below 10%, highlighting the intimate relationship between HNWIs and CTBC, an “obvious differentiation in the Taiwan market,” it says.