Overall best state-owned private bank 2020
Bank of China Private Banking
Last year was an important milestone for Bank of China Private Banking. In August, it consolidated three departments –wealth management and private banking, personal finance and internet finance – into two main business sections: personal digital finance and consumer finance.
The new private-banking centre sits under the personal digital banking department, led by Liu Min as general manager, and incorporates the private-banking team, an exclusive products team and a team of investment strategists.
Despite the ambitious reshuffling of business lines, BoC maintained its momentum, with year-on-year growth of almost 13% in the number of private-banking clients and a 13.6% rise in assets under management (AuM).
Compared with 2018 figures, that means the bank held AuM of approximately Rmb1.59 trillion ($230 billion) at the end of 2019. It has an average account balance of Rmb14 million.
There are many explanations for BoC’s continued success.
It has 63 dedicated investment advisers across 36 domestic branches, as well as nearly 1,200 relationship managers and 186 private bankers.
It has made the most of a shift in recent years among the super-rich to focus more on wealth preservation than wealth accumulation – a change that is likely to favour a safe, household name like Bank of China.
A series of product launches in its family business during our awards period has also helped.
Many of those new products are trusts: the Jiahe Yanhui trust, targeted at less wealthy families; Huixiang discretionary trust, also for the less wealthy; and complicated family trusts with beneficiaries that have no capacity for civil conduct, meaning those under eight years old or with a mental illness.
The scale of its discretionary trust business more than tripled by the end of 2019, and that has helped give a boost to its overall family-trust business, bringing the average growth for the last three years to over 50%.
Bank of China Private Banking’s unparalleled global coverage of 61 countries and territories also makes it a worthy winner of our best private bank for international network award for 2019.
For its private-banking clients, the group’s securities, insurance and investment management arms at home and abroad are now linked through its private-banking centres in Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and London.
BoC has been helped by cooperation between units within the wider group. Last May, its Beijing-based private-banking team joined forces with BoC International in Hong Kong to launch offshore trusts aimed at onshore private-banking clients with assets overseas. By the end of 2019, the number of its private-banking clients in the Asia-Pacific region grew at double-digit speed, as did AuM.
The focus at group level on the so-called Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area means the private-banking business naturally puts more weight on this fast-developing region.
Last year, BoC decided to take down administrative barriers within its private-banking services across nine cities located in the Greater Bay Area, giving its clients from any one of those cities automatic access to other private-banking centres.
The move could pay off handsomely for BoC: the region is seeing wealth accumulate at an unprecedented speed, thanks to China’s vision for the GBA to become an innovation and technology hub. It would be another trump card for an institution that has done so much already to grow an impressive private-banking business.