BEA expands London branch as mainland investment in Britain remains strong despite Brexit

The 26-year old London branch, right in the heart of Chinatown, now covers 20,000 square feet

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 December, 2016, 7:59pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 December, 2016, 11:14pm

The Bank of East Asia has doubled the size of its London branch and now offers fully digitalised services in an effort to capture a growing share of the 600,000 Chinese and Hong Kong customers who are studying, working or investing in Britain, according to executives.

The branch first opened in May 1990 to serve the Chinese community in London, and has now expanded its reach to a growing number of customers from Hong Kong and the mainland living in Britain.

The 26-year old London branch, right in the heart of Chinatown, has now doubled in size to 20,000 square feet.

“The expansion was a must, as we have seen an increasing number of customers in London over the past five years. These include students, tourists, investors and executives,” said Joseph Chow York-wai, the branch’s general manager.

The renovated branch now offers a full range of individual and corporate banking services including deposits, credit cards, and mortgage loans.

“In this digital age, customers use computers and smartphones to conduct their banking services, and that’s why we have expanded and improved what we offer at the London branch.

“However, there are still a lot of customers who like to meet and speak to staff who can speak Cantonese or Putonghua to get advice on banking services and investment in Britain.

“So we have also expanded the meeting areas to make sure customers feel comfortable to have a chat with our staff,” he said.

Bank of East Asia chairman David Li Kwok-po said at the launch of the newly remodelled London site that it “confirms the importance of the UK to our global strategy”.

“Not only does London branch serve local banking needs; it is also the gateway to the BEA Group’s extensive network in China, where we have helped many UK companies and individuals invest and do

business.

“At the same time, we are assisting many clients from China to explore investment opportunities in the UK. We are very optimistic that this two-way flow will continue to grow strongly.”

Chow said all of China’s “Big Five” mainland banks have a presence in London serving mainland companies which invest in properties and companies, while issuing bonds to raise funds.

The expansion was a must, as we have seen an increasing number of customers in London over the past five years. These include students, tourists, investors and executives
Joseph Chow York-wai, general manager, Bank of East Asia’s London branch

“While many of the bigger deals are led by Bank of China or ICBC, some of our services too are used in such transactions. There are many mainland company executives based in London who like to use the Bank of East Asia branch for their personal banking services, as we are well known in the mainland,” he said.

In addition, many Hongkongers who send their children to study in Britain or buy properties in London, use the bank, he said, which opened a branch in Birmingham in 1997, and Manchester in 2013.

“As our customers expand and invest in these cities, as have had to follow,” Chow said.

Chow added Brexit had not had any major impact to its operations.

“In fact, it helped attract more Chinese tourists and investors to come here due to the falling value of the pound,” he said.

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