FTZ leads the way as wealth management demand grows

China's total household wealth in 2018 exceeded US$50 trillion, surpassing Japan for the first time and ranking second, behind the United States, in the global wealth list.

Students sit in a bright and clean classroom at a business center as a teacher from Switzerland shares with them proven practices in wealth management.

Thursday was the first day of the first semester at the IfFP Swiss Wealth Management Professional Training Center — the first foreign-funded financial training institute on the Chinese mainland.

The center at 1599 Xinjinqiao Road in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone was granted approval last September.

Its parent, Zurich-based Institute for Financial Planning (IfFP), was established in 1995 and since then has played a leading role in the field.

Jessica Zhong, chief executive officer of the training center, told Shanghai Daily that China’s wealth management market was huge and the "Shanghai free trade zone has opened a door for us."

According to Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report 2018, China’s total household wealth exceeded US$50 trillion, surpassing Japan for the first time and ranking second, behind the United States, in the global wealth list.

Over the next five years, China’s wealth will grow further by US$23 trillion, accounting for 19 percent of global wealth by 2023, the report said.

Dr Felix Horlacher, CEO of IfFP, expressed his confidence over Shanghai’s further opening-up in the financial sector, particularly after the Shanghai free trade zone administrative committee introduced 25 measures, across six key sectors, to refine the current level of related services and incentives on offer within the FTZ.

Horlacher emphasized that the training center has combined proven useful experience from Switzerland with local practices to make the course down to earth and easy to understand for students.

In the past year, China has had an additional 640 super-high net worth adults, ranking second in the world in total number. Hence, there is a growing demand for wealth management experts.

At the same time, Shanghai is making further progress toward becoming an international financial center and the Shanghai FTZ is a major player in the city's ambitious drive.

Hang Yingwei, director of Pudong New Area and executive deputy director of the Shanghai FTZ, told a news briefing on Thursday afternoon that the FTZ was accelerating the construction of a global asset management center.

“The Shanghai FTZ will further agglomerate global asset management institutions and professional subsidiaries of various licensed financial institutions to promote the opening-up and innovation of the foreign capital management business,” he said.

Hang also disclosed that a 5-billion yuan (US$745 million) fund will be set up this year to serve the real economy, particularly in key sectors, to further promote the “China chips, innovative drugs, aviation dream and intelligent manufacturing” concept.

Additionally, the Shanghai FTZ will improve its ability to allocate global resources and accelerate deep integration and further development in the fields of economy, finance, trade and shipping, scientific and technological innovation, Hang added.

He also vowed to push ahead with moves to lure a clutch of pioneering foreign investment projects to the FTZ to fulfill the spirit of President Xi Jinping’s keynote speech at the opening of the 2018 Boao Asia Forum and the 100 measures announced by the city to further open up the economy.

“We will deepen the opening up of key areas such as telecommunications, education, health care, culture, finance and manufacturing," Hang said.

“We will vigorously promote the innovative development of new forms of trade, such as offshore trade, transit trade and service trade.”

He also pledged to accelerate the establishment of a supply center to serve the capital market of the Yangtze River Delta and give the Shanghai FTZ full play in its role as the bridgehead of the Belt and Road Initiative.

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