Press release

More retail banking customers in China’s GBA now own cross-border financial products

More retail banking customers in China’s GBA now own cross-border financial products

Banks need to work harder to win new customers

  • June 08, 2023
  • min read

Press release

More retail banking customers in China’s GBA now own cross-border financial products

HONG KONG/SHANGHAI – June 8, 2023 – More retail banking customers in China’s Greater Bay Area (GBA) are buying cross-border financial products today compared to 2020, according to a new report Greater Bay Area Retail Report: Enabling Cross-Boundary Lifestyles with Financial Services by Bain & Company, in collaboration with Hang Seng Bank.

Surveying over 2,500 retail banking customers in the GBA, Bain has found that Mainland respondents that own wealth management, insurance and loans in Hong Kong have grown by 2 percentage points (pp), 6pp and 4pp, respectively, between 2020 and 2022.

Following a similar trend, Hong Kong respondents also saw a growth in ownership of wealth management (+4pp), insurance (+1pp) and loans (+4pp) products in Mainland.

“With increased interconnectivity, people are encouraged to live and work within the GBA, customers’ personal lives and assets are becoming intertwined in the region. This is evident as we saw significant cross-boundary movement after the recent relaxation of restrictions,” said Frankie Leung, a partner with Bain & Company’s Financial Services practice in Hong Kong.

“However, when potential customers were asked about their appetite for cross-border financial services over the next three years, they appear hesitant. Banks will need to work harder to win new customers.”

Compared to 2020, potential customers from Mainland surveyed in 2022 expressed a decline in interest over the next three years to purchase cross-border wealth management (-23pp) and insurance products (-16pp), while loans stayed flat. Potential customers from Hong Kong said they were less interested in Mainland wealth management (-18pp) and insurance (-8pp) products in the next three years but were still interested in loans (+1pp).

A key reason for the dip in potential interest is border closures which restricted customers’ ability to buy cross-boundary financial products.

“Customers on both sides of the border say volatile market conditions caused them to ‘play it safe’,” said Herbert Lee, a Hong-Kong based partner with Bain & Company’s Financial Services practice. “But we expect GBA’s GDP to hit $2.8 trillion by 2027 and with travel opening up again, customer sentiment will turn.”

Customers who were interested in cross-border wealth management felt that foreign products were more attractive than domestic options. About 60% of Mainland customers and 54% of Hong Kong customers think cross-boundary wealth management products have better features. Mainland customers think Hong Kong providers offer more product options (e.g., global equities, foreign stocks, and bonds), while Hong Kong customers believe mainland providers offer better returns for products with the same risk levels.

Motivation for purchasing cross-boundary insurance varies between Hong Kong and Mainland customers. About half of Hong Kong customers want Mainland insurance to cover local needs (e.g., healthcare) when they are in Mainland, and 43% of Hong Kong customers want to purchase insurance to place assets in Mainland.

For Mainland customers, more than half of them think Hong Kong insurance products provide better geographic coverage, with more transparent claim conditions. Mainland customers also use Hong Kong insurance policies for offshore asset allocation.

Majority of customers who expressed interest in cross-boundary loans were specifically interested in mortgage products. Hong Kong customers were interested in bigger and better housing in a ‘falling price’ environment, while Mainland customers want to move closer to family and friends.

“Another opportunity is targeting the affluent families and retirement planners. These two groups have the highest average of investable assets per capita (> HKD 1M) and have indicated high interest in cross-boundary investment - 49% of assets for retirees, 40% for affluent parents, in comparison to 36% for the masses,” said Dr. Wenting Zhao, an associate partner of Bain & Company in Shanghai.

As GBA continues to grow, cross-boundary travel resumes, and investment sentiment improve, customers in the GBA will have significant financial services needs. To win over retail banking customers in GBA, financial institutions should become deeply familiar with customers’ needs and preferences on both sides of the border, develop segment-specific products, and deliver positive customer experiences across all channels, physical and digital.

Editor's Note: For more information or interview requests please contact Ann Lee at tel: +65 6228 2960, email: or Jasmine Zhao at tel: +86 021-2211 5819 or +86 134 825 57699, email:

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