Exclusive | Hong Kong ‘never left’, the city’s status as global finance hub never faltered during pandemic, JPMorgan’s wealth chief says
- ‘Hong Kong never left. It shouldn’t be so hard on itself,’ says Mary Callahan Erdoes, the chief executive of JPMorgan Asset & Wealth Management
- Erdoes credits the city’s ‘super-connector’ role with enabling JPMorgan to establish a strong asset management business in China
It is that role as a super-connector – via a multitude of cross-border investment schemes – that Erdoes credits with enabling JPMorgan to establish such a strong asset management business in China.
She has headed the unit since 2009, overseeing US$3.8 trillion of client assets. She visited Hong Kong ahead of the Global Financial Leaders’ Investment Summit which starts in the city today. The investment bank will be represented at the three-day conference by its chief operating officer, Daniel Pinto.
“For many years, the bank has established a strong presence in China with its joint ventures and leading position in China’s cross-border programmes,” she added.
The programme, announced last year, enables residents of nine mainland cities in the southern province of Guangdong to invest in financial products sold by banks in Hong Kong and Macau, and vice versa.
There are around 80,000 ultra-high-net-worth families, defined as having more than US$30 million in investible assets, in China, of which more than 20 per cent live in the bay area, according to the Hong Kong government.
“Hong Kong has been one of our hubs for wealthy clients for many, many decades, and it’s a really exciting place,” said Erdoes. “And by the way, there’s lots of major family offices here.
“We currently have the most products eligible for the GBA Wealth Management Connect scheme in the market, with over 30 Securities and Futures Commission-authorised, Hong Kong-domiciled retail funds, many of which are qualified for the scheme.
“We are well positioned to meet the increasingly diverse investment needs and interests of residents across the GBA.”
As the business continues to grow, Erdoes said the bank will hire staff where the needs arises. It has doubled its Hong Kong-based headcount of advisers in the last five years.
As part of its expansion in China, the bank plans to buy out the remaining 49 per cent stake in its joint venture, China International Fund Management, making the Shanghai-based fund unit its wholly owned subsidiary. In March, JPMorgan announced that it would acquire a 10 per cent stake in Shenzhen-based CMB Wealth Management – a subsidiary of the country’s eighth-largest bank, China Merchants Bank.
Global asset managers such as BlackRock and Neuberger Berman applied to set up fully-owned China mutual fund units after regulators in April scrapped foreign ownership restrictions in the fund management industry.
Erdoes is confident China’s tough anti-Covid measures, including a near-total ban on international travel, will be relaxed soon, providing a large boost to the economy.
“You have a full tank of energy in normal times, filled with face-to-face interactions,” she said. “But now we’re talking three years where people haven’t been able to fill the tank back up.
“Without that kind of dynamism, it can be hard to trust, or weather the storm. So it’s important to have travel open to fill the tank with business leaders and investors.”
The Chinese government will figure out the best way to emerge from the pandemic in the right way for the population, she said.