Credit Suisse hires banker in China onshore private banking push - memo

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Credit Suisse CSGN.S has hired former RBS RBS.L banker Rick Meng as head of China onshore private banking, according to an internal memo, as the Swiss private bank looks to tap the wealth management business in the world's second-largest economy.

The logo of Swiss bank Credit Suisse is seen at its headquarters at the Paradeplatz in Zurich, Switzerland November 3, 2016. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Credit Suisse will compete with Goldman Sachs GS.N and UBS UBSG.S on advising wealthy Chinese clients.

Others including British lender Standard Chartered STAN.L and the private banking unit of Singapore's second-biggest bank, OCBC OCBC.SI, have said they would consider starting onshore wealth management in China as the country continues to open up.

Regulatory restrictions and a less developed capital market have restricted some global banks in setting up a private banking presence in one of the world’s fastest growing centres for millionaires.

An offshore business remains the preferred route of many international wealth management firms who want to tap into the millionaires spawned by China’s booming technology sector and its surging stock market.

Meng’s hiring is part of Credit Suisse’s strategy to develop its China onshore wealth management business by leveraging its existing Shanghai branch and Hong Kong private banking platform, said a memo to bank staff issued on Tuesday and seen by Reuters.

The bank uses its Shanghai branch in China for investment banking operations including fixed-income business, and it will use the same office for launching its onshore wealth management business.

Credit Suisse Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam said in April that the investment bank was seeking to expand in China and would invest further in a country where it had been “underweight”.

The bank’s Chinese securities joint venture earlier this month started offering broking services to onshore and foreign investors, as China’s gradual opening up of markets lures overseas investors.

It is also planning to boost stake in that joint venture to the maximum permissible 49 percent, up from about 33 percent now, sources told Reuters in June.

Besides the securities joint ventures, Credit Suisse has a presence in China through other financial services businesses, including corporate and investment banking, and asset management services.

The bank’s onshore wealth management business will seek to tap ultra-high networth clients in China, and would use its securities and asset management joint ventures to expand the business, said a person with direct knowledge of the plans.

The person declined to be identified as he was not authorised to talk to the media. A spokeswoman for Credit Suisse confirmed the content of the memo but declined to give more details.

Reporting by Sumeet Chatterjee; Editing by Stephen Coates and Kim Coghill