Foreign banks in China

July 2012

2011 was a year of significant growth for China's foreign banks, which more than doubled their profits to RMB 16.73 billion.

Strong demand for corporate credit, combined with the expansion activities of multinational corporations and greater activity with state-owned enterprises and private firms helped foreign banks achieve this result.  Total assets grew 23.6% to RMB 2.15 trillion over the same period.

Looking ahead, foreign bank CEOs remain confident of delivering annual revenue growth of at least 20 per cent till 2015, despite China's subdued growth outlook.

There are significant opportunities for foreign banks, particularly in light of China's economic transformation from manufacturing exports to an internal consumption focus.   Financial reforms such as RMB internationalisation and interest rate liberalisation will also benefit offshore lenders longer-term.

These were some of the views expressed by the 41 CEOs and senior executives who took part in this year's survey.

Other highlights from the survey include:

  • Despite talent challenges, foreign banks expect to recruit 20,000 more people by 2015;
  • Foreign bank CEOs ranked bonds as the top product for future growth; and
  • Interest rate liberalisation and Renminbi internationalisation are keys to Shanghai becoming an international financial centre, according to foreign banks.