Global banks looking to Chinese mainland market amid sweeping push for financial opening
Published: Feb 25, 2021 06:02 PM

Tourists admire the skyline view of Lujiazui area at the Bund in Shanghai, east China, Jan. 6, 2020. (Xinhua/Wang Xiang)

Some global banks including Credit Suisse are purportedly relocating bankers from Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland, in an effort to sharpen their competitive edge in the world's second-largest economy which is spinning along in a sweeping push for financial deregulation.

Credit Suisse lately relocated three directors and four more junior staff to the mainland, Bloomberg reported Wednesday, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter. 

Another Swiss bank UBS is "in the process of shifting several managing directors." And, JPMorgan recently relocated Houston Huang, who oversaw deal making for the US bank from Hong Kong, to Shanghai after appointing Huang as the head of investment banking for its securities joint venture in the mainland, said the Wednesday report.

"UBS has no plans systematically to relocate employees from Hong Kong to the mainland. However, we seek to maximize flexibility and will continue to relocate small numbers of personnel both to and from the mainland in line with the needs of the business," a UBS spokesperson told the Global Times on Thursday. 

UBS increased its shareholding in UBS Securities to 51 percent in December 2018 to become the first foreign bank to gain a majority control of a securities joint venture in China. 

Questions sent to Credit Suisse and JPMorgan seeking confirmation went unanswered as of time of publication.

It could be the case that global banking heavyweights are building up teams for expansion into the mainland market, which becomes increasingly appealing to overseas institutions and international capital, Dong Dengxin, director of the Finance and Securities Institute at the Wuhan University of Science and Technology, told the Global Times on Thursday.

As of January 13, 13 foreign investment banks including Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Blackrock had 383 public job openings for the Chinese market, according to data provided to the Global Times by Beijing Alpha Technology, an upstart firm with expertise in AI-powered head-hunting.

Foreign financial institutions increased hiring of local talent in the second quarter of last year when Chinese regulators lifted the foreign shareholding limits, the headhunting agency disclosed.

Foreign ownership limits on futures firms were scrapped starting on January 1, 2020, while the removal of foreign shareholding controls was scheduled for April 1, 2020 in the case of fund management firms, and December 1, 2020 for securities firms.

With a continued push for-broader and wider financial industry reform - curbs are also being relaxed on the stock connects linking Hong Kong and mainland bourses - China's capital opening-up that has been unprecedented is set to continue, rendering the market a magnet for global institutions, Dong commented.

The bourgeoning trend toward a rising focus on the mainland market doesn't mean the position of the Hong Kong market will be weakened, as the city, highly internationalized, tends to be working together with its mainland counterpart in synergy to attract foreign capital, the expert added.

Global Times 

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