China’s top bankers

China’s top bankers: Day 2

The second day of our list of 30 executives who are shaping the mainland’s banking landscape.

Today we feature another group of individuals from our list of the top 30 bankers in China. We will publish the rest of the individuals on the list tomorrow.


Educated at Harvard and Stanford Universities, Jing Ulrich is one of the most prominent advisers to the world’s biggest asset management companies and multinational corporations. Her views influence the allocation of trillions of dollars of assets. She also serves as an adviser to Chinese institutions investing overseas. As a pre-eminent China strategist, she has been nicknamed the “Oprah Winfrey of the investment world”.

Jing Ulrich has received numerous accolades for her work as a China watcher. She was ranked as one of Fortune’s 50 Most Powerful Global Businesswomen for the past three consecutive years. Forbes also named her one of the world’s 100 Most Powerful Women. Ulrich established J.P. Morgan’s Hands-on China series and a China investment forum routinely attracts thousands of global business and government leaders.


Helen Wong has spearheaded projects and new businesses that have supported the expansion of HSBC’s capital markets franchise in China. Under Wong’s leadership, HSBC now has 13 China desks overseas, covering all continents. This has provided important support to China state-owned entities and private sector companies doing businesses overseas.

Wong has been instrumental in driving the bank’s renminbi businesses, rolling out renminbi cross-border trade settlement across its domestic franchise. Wong and her team have been pioneers in China’s financial market reforms by participating in almost every market opening, including gold futures trading, RQFII custodianship and direct yen/renminbi trading. Also, on her watch, HSBC was the only foreign bank to be appointed joint coordinator for the fourth issuance of offshore renminbi sovereign bonds by China’s Ministry of Finance. Wong is involved with a number of government-led groups and industry associations, and is a member of the 11th Guangzhou Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, as well as director of the China Banking Association’s Foreign Bank Working Committee.


Born in 1958, Xiao Gang is the youngest of the chairmen at the Big Four banks. He started his banking career at the People’s Bank of China, where he had several roles, including serving as a member of the Monetary Policy Committee.

His ability to deliver effective solutions under challenging circumstances has won him much praise and in 2003 he took the helm as chairman at China’s oldest bank. He is a strong advocate of a “going out” policy. He argues that in the midst of the continuing financial crisis, it is crucial for Chinese companies to explore global opportunities. Fortified by Xiao’s strategy, the lender retains its position as the most international bank China has ever produced. While all big commercial banks are striving to get a foothold in international markets, Bank of China already has branches all over the world.


Nomura has ambitions to be a global powerhouse and to that end Zhizhong Yang is responsible for driving the growth of the firm’s businesses in China. Given his track record, there’s good reason to believe he can do it.

Prior to joining Nomura, Yang worked at Lehman Brothers from September 2004 to September 2008. His team catapulted Lehman’s China investment banking division business into one of the leading franchises in the industry.

Under his stewardship, the firm handled landmark advisory roles for Chinalco in its historic $14.1 billion stake in Rio Tinto, for China Huaneng Group in its $3 billion acquisition of Tuas Power in Singapore, and for China Unicom in its $16 billion sale of its CDMA business and network to China Telecom. In capital-raising, Lehman Brothers served as a bookrunner on China Citic Bank’s $5.9 billion IPO, Sinopec’s $1.5 billion convertible offering, as well as many IPO and follow-on offerings for Chinese private sector companies.

Altogether, Yang has completed more than $100 billion in financing, M&A advisory and principal investment transactions in China during his 17-year career.

Yang started his career at Goldman Sachs’s principal investment division in 1994, and from 1998 to 2004 he was one of the key members of Morgan Stanley’s China investment banking team, where he held various roles including managing director and head of China corporate finance.


Nicole Yuen is well known within China’s capital markets, having helped to build UBS’s China equities team during the past decade. Indeed, she was the first foreigner to place an order for A-shares back in 2003 after playing an instrumental role in winning approval for UBS to enter the qualified foreign institutional investor scheme.

As well as establishing UBS’s equities platform in the mainland market, Yuen also has considerable experience in Hong Kong’s capital markets. In the 1990s she led the listing of a number of Chinese companies during the first wave of H-shares. During her 18-year career at UBS, she also took part in the early tranches of B-share listings on the Chinese stock exchanges.

The Harvard Law School graduate, who also worked as a partner at Clifford Chance in Hong Kong, has served on the China Securities Regulatory Commission’s listing committee, which is responsible for reviewing A-share listings, and to date remains the only foreign investment banker appointed to the panel.


Zhao Ju has been building businesses in China for years. He helped establish the domestic team of UBS Securities, which has consistently stood out as one of the leading foreign securities joint ventures since 2007. During the past six years with UBS, Zhao has led the team on dozens of landmark equity, bond and M&A transactions, including China Railway’s Rmb40.7 billion ($6.4 billion) A-share then H-share IPO, Petrochina’s Rmb66.8 billion A-share IPO, New China Life’s Rmb2.8 billion A-share plus H-share IPO, Sinochem’s $2 billion bond and Yanzhou coal’s A$3.3 billion buyout of Felix Resources.

Before joining UBS, Zhao was the head of investment banking at China Galaxy Securities. Under his leadership, Galaxy improved its league table position from out of the top 20 to top three for both renminbi equity and bond underwriting in China. Earlier in his career, Zhao spent more than six years with China Construction Bank, where he helped to build the foreign exchange and treasury division, and was responsible for CCB’s foreign exchange and debt issuance businesses. He also helped negotiate the establishment of CICC, which was CCB’s now-defunct joint venture with Morgan Stanley.


The world’s two most influential bankers are probably the head of the US Fed and the governor of the People’s Bank of China. The Fed’s Ben Bernanke oversees the global reserve currency, while Zhou Xiaochuan oversees the monetary system of a superpower-in-the-making and the balance sheet of the world’s most liquid financial institution — the Chinese government.

The 64-year-old has decades of experience in various state financial institutions and understands China’s financial markets inside and out. Although Zhou is not a member of the country’s top decision-making body,

The Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee, he is a strong and vocal advocate on important issues such as interest-rate liberalisation and renminbi internationalisation, which are vital for China’s pursuit of sustainable development and global economic leadership.

Today’s Chinese banking system may still have room for improvement, but thanks to Zhou it remained resilient during the recent global financial crisis and the nation’s foreign exchange reserves gave it considerable protection against falling exports and flighty foreign investment.

Zhou, a respected academic in China, has also published several dozen monographs and more than a hundred articles in domestic and international publications.

It takes two to tango
The regulators making China’s economy dance



China’s top regulators don’t change often, so the appointments of Shang Fulin and Guo Shuqing as China’s chief regulators for the banking and securities industries marked the start of a new era.

Guo succeeded Shang as the top securities watchdog last November, when Shang moved to his new post at the China Banking Regulatory Commission. The two have different management styles but are both applauded as the fixers of China’s financial markets and both have critical tasks ahead.

Shang, 61, chaired the securities regulatory commission for nine years. The length of his stint alone makes him stand out. None of his predecessors stayed in the job for more than three years, such is the challenge it presents. The A-share market has been one of the most explosive issues in China, fuelled by limited investment channels and the excess savings of retail investors. So the nation’s chief securities regulator must cope with meddling from above as well as anger brewing from below.

Shang has held several senior economic roles, but has so far won most credit for his work at the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC). His most noted reforms paved the way for illiquid shares of state-owned enterprises to be traded on domestic stock markets, giving ordinary investors a slice of the big state-owned entities’ profits. He also introduced index futures, margin trading and the secondary trading board, allowing smaller and private companies to grow with China’s capital market.

Guo, meanwhile, is outspoken, which is rare among Chinese leaders. He often writes articles for economic periodicals, sharing his views on economic reforms in China. Before the appointment, Guo was the chairman of China Construction Bank. He was assigned to give the lender a facelift when it was preparing for a Hong Kong listing in 2005. And he did it well. Under his stewardship, the bank shook off its reputation for bad loans and scandals, and helped it to become a dynamic listed company that is now China’s second-biggest by market value after ICBC.

Only a few months after he took the helm of CSRC, Guo initiated effective measures to rescue the market. He has cut the trading fee by 25% and required under-performing companies to be removed from the bourse. He has also simplified the listing process and improved the transparency of listing-hopefuls, which all helped improve investor confidence and attract capital flows back to China’s languishing equity market.


¬ Haymarket Media Limited. All rights reserved.
Share our publication on social media
Share our publication on social media