Hang Seng Bank eyes wealthy mainlanders

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 March, 2012, 12:00am

Hang Seng Bank plans to grow its wealth management business in Hong Kong by about 50 per cent in the next three years as it sets its sights on attracting rich clients from the mainland.

Nixon Chan Lik-sang, head of the bank's retail banking and wealth management, yesterday urged his staff to focus on increasing the number of customers, including new immigrants and frequent visitors from the mainland.

More than half of Hong Kong's seven-million-plus population already have accounts with Hang Seng Bank, making those who come from the mainland an increasingly important target group, Chan said.

'It's like a half-filled glass of water. You can be satisfied that you have half a glass but you may also think, what about the other half, and how do I fill it?'

With the economy growing fast, rich mainlanders have been coming to Hong Kong more often for shopping or holiday, opening up new opportunities for local companies.

Some banks have already launched new marketing campaigns in the past few months to attract mainland clients, in particular those who want to open offshore accounts in Hong Kong to access many more investment choices than are available on the mainland.

A new Citibank branch in Causeway Bay, one of the city's busiest shopping areas and popular with mainland tourists, has put up a sign welcoming clients from across the border in simplified Chinese.

Hang Seng Bank plans to renovate some of its own outlets but not with a view to reorienting them towards mainland clients, as Hongkongers will remain the bank's dominant client group, Chan said.

'What we can do to get more mainland clients may be to work with our colleagues on the mainland more closely and do more branding and marketing promotion there.'

The bank's wealth management business, comprising mainly insurance and investment products, did not do too well last year. Chan said he believed he could boost this segment by 50 per cent by 2015 as the global economy recovered.