HSBC says growing Chinese wealth fuels client investments in US

By Thomson Reuters Apr 24, 2024 | 9:03 AM

By Tatiana Bautzer and Lananh Nguyen

NEW YORK (Reuters) – HSBC’s wealthy clients in China and Hong Kong are still eager to invest in the U.S., according to Michael Roberts, the bank’s CEO for the USA and Americas.

China’s economic growth remains strong relative to other nations, and its wealthy citizens are focused on overseas investments, Roberts told Reuters in an interview.

“Chinese investors are becoming very sophisticated,” he said. “For most Asian investors, the first port of call is the U.S.”

The bank’s focus on wealth comes at a time of simmering U.S.-China tensions. Dealmaking in Asia remains subdued, prompting some American financial firms more focused on investment banking fees to cut jobs and rein in their ambitions. And the United States has preliminarily discussed sanctions on some Chinese banks but does not yet have a plan to implement such measures, a U.S. official told Reuters on Tuesday.

HSBC manages around $1.8 trillion from wealthy clients, with a large portion coming from Asia. Last year, it bought Citigroup’s consumer wealth business in China, adding clients, assets under management and deposits.

The move came after HSBC sold more than 200 U.S. retail branches, shifting its focus to wholesale businesses and wealth.

HSBC kept around 400,000 individual clients with higher net worth at 22 dedicated offices it calls wealth centers, including one that opened on Tuesday at its new office in Manhattan’s Hudson Yards district. Wealthy foreigners represent around 70% of the group.

Its corporate and investment banking division often refers owners and executives to the wealth management division, said Racquel Oden, HSBC’s head of wealth and personal banking, during the opening on Tuesday.

She cited an example of an Indian client sending his son to study at a U.S. university who could later secure a credit card or mortgage because of the family’s relationship with the lender globally.

Wealthy non-U.S. clients seeking jumbo mortgages in the U.S. typically make large upfront payments and borrow for shorter periods of five to seven years, Roberts said.

(Reporting by Tatiana Bautzer and Lananh Nguyen; editing by Jonathan Oatis)