China 2016 AUM League Table

China 2016 AUM League Table

China’s Top 10 private banks average 35% AUM growth rate since 2012

While the world has been fixated on the steady rise of Hong Kong and Singapore as global wealth management hubs, China’s private banking industry has quietly amassed a pool of assets under management (AUM) to rival any onshore market.

In 2016, China’s Top 10 private banks grew their collective AUM by 21.9% YoY to RMB 7.5 trillion (US$1.1 trillion1), outpacing Asia’s (ex China onshore) Top 20 private banks, whose client assets climbed by 6.1% over the same period during a year, according to Asian Private Banker data.


China’s Top 10 Private Banks by AUM (RMB billion)

YoY %
1China Merchants Bank (CMB) Private Banking1,659.51,252.1752.6571.4434.232.5%39.8%
2Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) Private Banking1,208.41,061.6735.7541.3473.213.8%26.4%
3Bank of China (BOC) Private Banking1,000.0810.0720.0570.0450.023.5%22.1%
4Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) Private Banking818.4807.7640.0505.0396.01.3%19.9%
5China Construction Bank (CCB) Private Banking786.3622.9468.6396.4291.526.2%28.2%
6China International Capital Corporation (CICC) Wealth Management618.8399.0216.0127.675.455.1%69.3%
7Bank of Communications (BOCOM) Private Banking466.5407.3291.0233.9182.114.5%26.5%
8Shanghai Pudong Development Bank (SPD Bank) Private Banking346.8295.0220.0140.0100.017.6%36.5%
9China CITIC Bank (CITIC) Private Banking321.2244.1143.985.653.731.6%56.4%
10China Minsheng Banking Corporation (Minsheng) Private Banking296.8273.0230.4191.9128.28.7%23.4%

Source: All figures are based on Asian Private Banker estimates and published data


Furthermore, since 2012, the total AUM held by China’s Top 10 private banks has increased at a CAGR of 30.6%, while for Asia’s (ex-China onshore) Top 20, the growth rate is substantially less at 6.75%.

The growth disparity, while pronounced, is unsurprising for a number of key reasons. The Chinese private banking market – at around ten years old – is growing from a low base, notwithstanding the substantial numbers involved, whereas Asia’s comparatively mature offshore industry has been subject to consolidation in recent years as market maturity, margin pressure and regulatory tightening put a squeeze on balance sheets.

This was especially evident in 2015, when Asia’s (ex-China onshore) Top 20 private banks saw their combined AUM decline 4.7%, and in 2016, when market uncertainty and regulatory upheaval contributed to a slump in transactional volumes (some saw as much as a 30% decline in brokerage volumes and structured product trading volumes were down 13.8% across the industry before the US election) and stifled net new money flows, even as total AUM increased slightly.

At the same time, Chinese private banks – most of which are linked to their banks’ retail arms – benefit from a steady pipeline of client assets and tight capital controls as China’s HNW population swells.

Topping the table is China Merchants Bank (CMB) Private Banking, with just under RMB 1.7 trillion in AUM (+33% YoY), followed by state-owned giants Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) Private Banking (RMB 1.2 trillion, +13.8% YoY) and Bank of China Private Banking (RMB 1.0 trillion, +23.5% YoY).

All three banks are also in the process of further refining their approach to private banking as investors become more sophisticated in their demands and scrutiny around the distribution of implicitly guaranteed, high-yielding wealth management products increases. For example, CMB Private Banking recently introduced a “scientific” asset allocation system that has been configured for the China market, while Bank of China Private Banking is increasing synergies within the group to bring to private clients a “one-package service”.

China’s onshore opportunity: asset growth outpaces HNW wealth creation

Impressively, India and China represented nearly 10% of global HNWI wealth and accounted for almost 19% of the global increase in new wealth since 2006, according to Capgemini’s Wealth Report. It stated that the two economic powerhouses added US$4 trillion in the last decade.

Last year, too, China’s AUM growth of 22.6% proved to be higher than the growth of its country’s HNW wealth – which grew by 16.9% in the same period (2015 – 2016)2.

Indeed, offshore, the opportunity to tap into the unbanked is less promising. In 2016, Hong Kong’s HNW wealth, grew at a much slower pace of 3% while Singapore’s HNW wealth fell by 3.5% in the same period.3 Also, AUM growth at Asia’s private banks (ex-China onshore) did not keep pace with high net worth (HNW) wealth creation in the Asia Pacific region.


China Top 10 private banks: RMs, clients, branches

Ranking by AUMBank2016 RM2015 RM2016 Clients2015 Clients2016 PB branches2015 PB branchesThresholdLaunch year
1China Merchants Bank (CMB) Private Banking   more info60253059,56049,0324742RMB10 million2007
  • CMB runs a "1+N+N" service team model, which means "1 RM plus 1 team of experts that speciallise in overseas issues, plus 1 team of experts that speciallise in domestic issues including legal, investment matters". All RMs serve PB clients only.
2Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) Private Banking   more info1,35897470,07462,3813636RMB8 million2008
  • This number is for RMs who serve PB clients only; ICBC has 10 RMs at the bank's headquarters who serve only UHNWIs with over RMB 50 million in assets. ICBC's total RM headcount, including those who serve retail and HNWIs, is 4200 in 2016, up from 4000 in 2015.
3Bank of China (BOC) Private Banking15613095,40086,5003635RMB8 million2007
4Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) Private Banking   more info1,600-70,00069,0003734RMB6 million2010
  • These numbers account for all staff in the private bank division
5China Construction Bank (CCB) Private Banking   more info1,824-58,72132,1803737RMB10 million2008
  • These numbers account for all staff in the private bank division
6China International Capital Corperation (CICC) Wealth Management   more info27525029,97226,5412020US$1 million2007
  • This number is for RMs who only serve HNWIs; both figures for 2015 and 2016 are approximate
7Bank of Communications (BOCOM) Private Banking   more info27727035,04329,4903737RMB6 million2008
  • BOCOM refers to its PB RMs as "wealth consultants"; the bank adopts a "1+1+N" model which means "retail RM+wealth consultant+investment and legal service team"
8Shanghai Pudong Development Bank (SPD Bank) Private Banking19814719,73915,8711812RMB8 million2011
9China CITIC Bank (CITIC) Private Banking   more info15113821,57516,4243838RMB6 million2007
  • CITIC refers to its PB RMs as "wealth consultants"; these individuals service PB clients exclusively
  • In 2015 and 2016, CITIC offered PB services via retail branches. In January 2017, CITIC selected 11 branches who had sufficient clients and AUM to set up PB centres. The bank plans to add three more PB centres by the end of this year. Now, PB clients accounts are still under retail RMs, but the bank is looking to have 10% PB clients' accounts managed directly by PB RMs in 2017.
10China Minsheng Banking Corporation (Minsheng) Private Banking   more info463-14,88414,8494140RMB8 million2008
  • CMBC:463 represents RMs who serve both PB and retail clients, while 48 of them purely serve PB clients
  • CMBC:Among the 41 tier-one branches that provide PB services, 10 of them have both a PB department and a PB centre. for CMBC, PB departments can serve clients who are not yet offically PB clients but already eligible by financial assets;and the centres, purely serve official PB clients; CMBC has 74 tier-2 branches

Source: All figures are based on Asian Private Banker estimates and published data

China’s private banks add RMs, branches to accommodate swelling AUM and client numbers

To keep up with their substantial growth in assets under management (AUM) and to drive further gains, China’s 10 largest private banks by client assets continued to build their frontlines throughout last year, Asian Private Banker data confirms.

At the end of 2016, the Top 10 had 6,904 relationship managers (RMs) combined, although direct comparisons between this figure and Asia’s (ex China onshore) 2016 total of 5,459 are not possible.

This is because, in many cases, Chinese private banks include retail banking RMs in their totals. Indeed, for some Chinese private banks, retail bankers and private bankers, often alongside legal services teams, attend to the same clients, while for others, private bankers are often accompanied by experts who specialise in “domestic issues such as legal matters”, as well as experts who focus on “overseas/offshore issues”.

However, the industry does appear to be moving towards a higher ratio of dedicated private bankers. For example, one private bank has set itself a target of having 10% of its private banking clients’ accounts managed directly by private banking RMs by the end of this year

Unsurprisingly, as China’s private banks ramped up their RM headcounts, they also continued to expand their branch networks in 2016.

The total number of branches operated by China’s Top 10 hit 347, up from 331 in 2015, reflecting the 18% YoY surge in client numbers, to 474,968.

Again, some caution must be exercised when delving into these numbers. For example, not all of these branches include private banking departments and centres, even if private clients can be serviced from these locations. Moreover, these generally only account for tier-one branches.

Equally, some double-counting is involved when determining private banking client numbers, although most banks spoken to by Asian Private Banker say that those individuals that meet the minimum requirement to be considered a private banking client are shifted out of retail – whether by invitation or automatically – and are no longer counted as part of the retail universe.


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1 Exchange rate as of 31 December 2016
2 3 Capgemini Asia Pacific Wealth Report 2016

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