Global banks show business resilience in China amid pandemic

Tracy Li
Big banks have shown strong business resilience and confidence in their China operations despite the country's resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tracy Li
Global banks show business resilience in China amid pandemic

Global banks have shown strong business resilience and confidence in their China operations despite resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

Credit Suisse, one of the world's leading financial service providers, said its well-orchestrated business continuity plans and flexible working schemes have proved strong despite the disruptions posed by the pandemic.

"All of our operating entities in Shanghai remain in a good position with consistent and world-class services for clients," it said.

The bank has pledged to work with its China partner to support COVID-19 relief efforts in Shanghai and arranged timely delivery of food baskets for staff living in the city.

"During this challenging time, we are committed to harnessing the resources we have to support the impacted communities and address their challenges," said Janice Hu, China CEO of the investment bank.

China has been a strategically important market for Credit Suisse, according to Hu, who adds that it remains committed to investing here and will also continue to recruit local talent.

To better support employees impacted in the pandemic, Credit Suisse introduced "The Way We Work" – a new work model – in May 2021 in Switzerland, and it has been adopted by several functions and markets, including several in China.

With strong investment banking, the global wealth manager is now focusing on broadening its presence and capabilities in China.

It renamed its China securities joint venture last June as Credit Suisse Securities (China) Limited, one year after becoming a majority shareholder.

More than 60 professionals have been recruited to join the company across all businesses and corporate functions as of end of June 2021.

"Our goal is to eventually acquire full ownership of the joint venture," Credit Suisse said.

Big plans

Goldman Sachs Group is another Wall Street giant that has big plans for China.

While already ahead of the target to double local staff to 600, which was set in a five-year growth strategy in 2019, the bank said in an earlier interview that it plans to expand in China all of its four global business segments – investment banking, global markets, asset management and consumer and wealth management.

The bank's strategy has not been shifted by the pandemic, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Last October, Goldman Sachs was granted full ownership of its China securities venture, the second of its kind.

That followed an approval in May 2021 for the New York-based investment bank to set up a majority-owned wealth management venture with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

To support Shanghai's battle against the pandemic, UBS' entities in China have donated 1 million yuan (US$152,248) to the Shanghai Soong Ching Ling Foundation to provide daily necessities urgently needed by disadvantaged families in underserved districts, especially the elderly and children.

David Chin, UBS China country head and head of Investment Bank, APAC, said the bank has paid close attention to the local situation.

"UBS has a long-term commitment and strategic investment in the Chinese market," he said.

"We hope that through this donation, we can help local communities overcome the pandemic and restore normal production and living order as soon as possible."

Last month, UBS Group AG boosted its presence in the world's second-largest economy by increasing its stake in the joint venture UBS Securities to 67 percent from 51 percent.

Citi China said a huge digital transformation in its corporate and commercial banking meant COVID-led disruption has been "insignificant."

Since the start of the latest outbreak, the US bank has helped a Chinese company complete an urgent international payment, and helped a multinational firm inject capital into its China subsidiary, while many more others are assisted by Citi China to continue their business activities during the period.

Citi previously announced it will hire at least 100 women in tech in China this year and expects some of them to base in its tech hub in the Pudong New Area.

Rose Zhu, Deutsche Bank China chief country officer, said that "so far, our operations remain to a large extent 'business as usual' thanks to the tremendous hard work by our staff and some critical investments made into our infrastructure in the last several years."

Although the current COVID-related lockdown has brought challenges, the German bank said it has been able to come through for its clients and colleagues without disruption.

"I have every confidence that Deutsche Bank China will emerge stronger and more resilient from the current challenging circumstances," Zhu noted.

Impressed by China's determination in recent years to press ahead with the opening-up of its financial markets, the bank said it will leverage its advantages across all major business divisions to continue adding value for clients in China.

Deutsche Bank set up its first overseas branch in Shanghai 150 years ago in 1872.

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