Foreign bank innovation 'will improve market'

Updated: 2012-01-19 07:58

By Zhang Zhao (China Daily)

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Financial innovation by foreign banks in China will improve capabilities in the market, noted Pierre Bonzom, CEO of commercial and personal banking at Societe Generale (China) Ltd, at the 21st Century Annual Finance Summit of Asia held last month in Beijing.

Most foreign banks have "very few offices and a small operations network" in China because they are newcomers to the market, he said. Also, their customer base is limited because most of them are oriented to a particular segment of the market.

However, the advantages of foreign banks lie in their "capability for financial innovation, rich experience in international operations and their global network".

China's financial market has become "increasingly mature" over the decade since the nation joined the WTO, but as a French bank that has been in China for 30 years, "Societe Generale sees many Chinese companies that need more and better services", he said.

"Financial innovation can bring benefits to the entire industry, leading to the arrival of new service sectors, new tools and new forms of market organizations," said Bonzom. "The pricing system and resource distribution would be more efficient and investor risks would be spread out and easy to control."

The CEO said Societe Generale has noticed that a number of banks are developing new financial products to attract deposit from high-end clients.

He expected more innovative products to come out in the future to meet the need of diversified customers if policies are more flexible.

The internationalization of renminbi also provides new opportunities for foreign banks, according to Bonzom. "With a wide international operation network, foreign banks can help Chinese companies expand their business overseas."

He also noted that although China is at the initial stage of financial innovation, its supervision organizations have a prudent attitude, which is a signal to all market players that they must have "an efficient system of risk control and measures to protect the customers' rights" if they want profit in the market.