Schroders to form China wealth management venture with BOCOM

FILE PHOTO: The company logo is seen at an office of Bank of Communications in Beijing
FILE PHOTO: The company logo is seen at an office of Bank of Communications in Beijing, China, August 27, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

February 22, 2021

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Schroders said on Monday it had received Chinese regulatory permission to form a majority-owned wealth management venture with a unit of Bank of Communications (BOCOM), the country’s fifth biggest lender.

The announcement came days after Schroders applied to set up a wholly-owned mutual fund business in China, where the government fully opened up its giant financial sector to foreign companies last year.

“Schroders has long been committed to the Chinese market,” Peter Harrison, Schroders Group Chief Executive Officer, said in a statement.

“The Chinese market represents a significant opportunity for Schroders, entailing the world’s second and third largest equity and bond markets respectively.”

But some fear Schroders is setting up too many platforms in China, potentially diluting its resources to run its local businesses. Schroeder already owns a mutual fund venture with BOCOM and operates a private fund business in the country.

“Why would they burn themselves with an additional platform?” said Peter Alexander, founder of fund consultancy Z-Ben Advisors.

“They have decided to put a lot on their plate. They’re going to have to find a way to execute.”

The new wealth management venture, based in Shanghai, will be 51% controlled by Schroder Investment Management Ltd, and 49% owned by BOCOM Wealth Management Co.

It’s the third wealth management venture in China. Amundi partnered with Bank of China, while BlackRock and Temasek Holdings (Pte) Ltd are setting up a similar venture with China Construction Bank.

“We look forward to being able to support savers in China with innovative investment products …” said Lieven Debruyne, Schroders Global Head of Distribution.

Alexander of Z-Ben Advisors said the foreign scramble to partner with Chinese banks did not necessarily ensure success in China.

“There is this overwhelming desire, among foreign asset managers to gain some access to distribution,” Alexander said.

But “marketing is what really matters. And this is what’s being overlooked by a very myopic, large group of global managers.”

(Reporting by Samuel Shen and Alun John; editing by David Evans)