HSBC on track to meet China wealth hiring target despite economic headwinds

HONG KONG, Nov 20 (Reuters) – HSBC (HSBA.L) is on track to meet a target of expanding its China wealth business headcount to 3,000 by 2025, despite the country’s current economic headwinds, as it bets on a steadily rising number of the extremely affluent, a senior executive said.

The Asia-focused bank has recruited around 1,500 wealth managers in the world’s second-largest economy since 2021, Trista Sun, HSBC China’s head of wealth and personal banking, told Reuters.

The expansion of the China wealth advisory team serves HSBC’s digital-focused “Pinnacle” strategy, part of a pivot towards Asia with $3.5 billion worth of investments committed to the region in 2021.

The growing headcount is in addition to wealth advisory staff in HSBC’s Chinese branches, Sun said. Most foreign banks still rely on in-branch wealth planners to serve clients in China.

HSBC is pressing ahead with the hiring plan as China’s wealth and insurance sector is expanding faster than the country’s economy is expected to, she added.

The bank estimates that China’s household wealth will increase by around 8.5% a year over a five-year period starting in 2022, outpacing Beijing’s around 5% annual target for 2023 economic growth which many fear will be a struggle to reach.

Under Pinnacle, HSBC runs an insurance brokerage unit which in September became the first qualified foreign-owned broker to distribute mutual funds locally.

The bank’s targeted wealth clientele – adults with a net worth of at least $250,000 – is expected to double to 350 million by 2030 in China, the bank estimates.

A weaker Chinese yuan has bolstered demand for offshore investment options, with Sun pointing to the quota-based Qualified Domestic Institutional Investors program (QDII) and Wealth Management Connect scheme covering China’s wealthy Greater Bay Area as investors seek “exposure to the international market”.

The London-headquartered bank has expanded its QDII offer with the acquisition of Citigroup’s (C.N) China consumer wealth management business in October this year, Sun said.

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