Bank of East Asia, Hong Kong’s biggest family-run bank, has appointed its head of retail lending, Christine Lo, to lead its Greater Bay Area (GBA) office, as the bank looks to forge closer collaboration across its operations in the region to capture new wealth management businesses.
Lo, who also headed the bank’s credit card business, helped launch Bank of East Asia’s cross-border mortgage service last year, allowing Hong Kong customers to process their loans for buying real estate anywhere in the nine Guangdong provincial cities of the GBA without having to set foot in mainland China.
“By integrating our resources and strengths, the GBA office will further enable Bank of East Asia to seize future opportunities, including those stemming from the up-and-coming wealth management connect scheme,” the bank’s co-chief executive Adrian Li said in an announcement of Lo’s appointment.
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The appointment is a move to align the business of the century-old bank with the growth potential of the GBA, encompssing a total population of 70 million and a combined economy of US$1.7 trillion, equivalent to the world’s 11th biggest economic entity.
A flurry of cross-border financial services and products have already been approved by regulators to serve the region, which accounts for one in five of China’s high-net worth households with at least 10 million yuan (US$1.55 million).
Financial regulators of the GBA last year rolled out the so-called Wealth Management Connect, which enables residents within the 11 cities around southern China’s Guangdong province, including Hong Kong and Macau, invest in each other’s asset management financial products.
Besides banking, Bank of East Asia also owns 49 per cent of East Asia Qianhai Securities Company Limited, which provides brokerage service with its partner Shenzhen Qianhai Financial Holdings in a special area earmarked for innovations in financial services. The bank’s subsidiary, BEA Union Investment (Shenzhen) in Qianhai, offers fund and asset management services.
Bank of East Asia, which opened its first branch on the mainland in 1992, has one of the most extensive foreign-owned bank networks in China.
The bank’s mainland business trimmed its pre-tax loss by 84 per cent to HK$602 million (US$78 million) in the first half of 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic ravaged China’s economy.
Still, the improvement in its mainland business helped bolster Bank of East Asia’s first-half net profit by 53 per cent last year, to HK$1.53 billion.
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