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Greater Bay Area the next big battlefield for banks as revenues set to hit US$200 billion by 2025, HSBC executive says

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HSBC plans to make inroads into the lucrative Greater Bay Area, as Hong Kong's largest lender expects banking sector revenues in the area to reach US$200 billion by 2025, according to a senior executive.

Hong Kong and HSBC can serve as a springboard for investors from GBA to allocate their assets in wealth management products, said Maggie Ng, head of wealth and personal banking in Hong Kong at HSBC.

"I'm sure this is definitely a battlefield where everybody wants to get in," Ng said at a forum to highlight the Skycity commercial development. "Hong Kong can serve as a platform through which we can get access to many individual customers."

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New World Development is investing HK$20 billion (US$2.5 billion) to develop the 3.8 million square feet commercial complex at Skycity attached to Hong Kong International Airport. Expected to be completed in phases from 2022 to 2025, the project is strategically located close to the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, which has significantly enhanced connectivity with 10 other cities in the Greater Bay Area.

Adrian Cheng, CEO of New World Development, addresses the Skycity forum at the AsiaWorld-Expo, on Thursday. Photo: Yik Yeung-man alt=Adrian Cheng, CEO of New World Development, addresses the Skycity forum at the AsiaWorld-Expo, on Thursday. Photo: Yik Yeung-man>

HSBC and rivals like Standard Chartered are looking at the Wealth Management Connect scheme to sell wealth management products to the Greater Bay Area's 70 million residents.

Launched in September last year, the Wealth Management Connect scheme is Beijing's first scheme tailor-made for the 11 cities of the Greater Bay Area. The scheme has an initial quota of 300 billion yuan (US$46.5 billion) in fund flows in both directions, but each investor is only allowed to trade up to 1 million yuan on a net remittance basis.

Some 20 banks have applied to the Hong Kong Monetary Authority to launch more than 100 types of investment funds including balanced funds, money market funds, equity and bond funds, which use different strategies.

HSBC's 130-plus outlets in Guangdong province, the most among international lenders, and 5,000 employees, give it an edge in tapping the bay area's potential, Ng said.

An HSBC branch in Qianhai, Shenzhen. Photo: SCMP alt=An HSBC branch in Qianhai, Shenzhen. Photo: SCMP>

She said there were 450,000 households in the GBA with investible assets of at least 6 million yuan, making them potential clients for the bank.

A survey conducted by HSBC last year showed that 80 per cent of residents in the GBA plan to invest in the wealth connect scheme.

However, the Wealth Management Connect scheme has faced hurdles from cross-border travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. GBA residents who want to participate in the wealth management scheme have to visit a bank branch to open an account. Bankers have expressed hope that regulators would relax rules and allow remote account opening to unleash the scheme's potential.

"Once a green light is given for remote opening ... then within five minutes people can open accounts ... [and] enjoy our wealth management products and investment services," Ng said.

Last year, HSBC launched more than 200 features for its mobile app, and "we are well prepared in terms of hardware and software. We are only waiting for the reopening of the border", she added.

The Skycity forum, which was held at the AsiaWorld-Expo on Thursday, was officiated by Fred Lam, CEO of Airport Authority Hong Kong, and Adrian Cheng, CEO of New World Development.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2022 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 2022. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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