Many people in the US probably do not know that Bank of Communications Co Ltd (BOCOM) is one of the oldest banks in China. Founded in 1908, it was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in June 2005 and on the Shanghai Stock Exchange in May 2007. On Nov 16, San Francisco Branch will celebrate its two-year-old birthday.
When Shaohui Yang, general manager of Bank of Communications (BOCOM) San Francisco Branch, came to San Francisco in September, 2011 and had to open the office with three of his colleagues.
"I still remember sending e-mails from PC on top of my suitcase on the ground of the empty dorm," Yang said with a laugh in a recent interview with China Daily USA, "we had to start from scratch."
Today 70 percent of BOCOM's businesses are Chinese enterprises in the Bay Area.
"BOCOM has strong customer foundation in China. When Chinese enterprises come to the US to set up subsidiaries, it's an easy and natural choice to choose our US branches for stability and service quality," said Yang.
The bank currently has 194 domestic branches comprising 30 provincial branches. It has also established 2,691 outlets in 207 cities and 151 counties nationwide.
According to the "Top 1000 Global Banks 2013" published by the British magazine "The Banker", BOCOM was ranked 23rd in terms of its Tier 1 cap ital (core capital), and was among the top 50 for the fifth consecutive year.
Yang's San Francisco branch is one of the 12 institutions established overseas other than Hong Kong, New York, Tokyo, Singapore, Seoul, Frankfurt, Sydney, Macao, Ho Chi Minh City, Taipei and London.
"We have witnessed significant growth of Chinese companies coming to the US, especially the Bay Area and Silicon Valley. Our strategy is to develop stable relationship with these companies and provide financial service to them, and help them develop their business quickly upon arrival," said Yang.
According to him, other than its own effort in business development, they have received ample local support from ChinaSF, a non-profit organization that helps Chinese companies settle down to San Francisco, Bay Area Council, the mayor's office, and the Chinese American Enterprise Association.
"We also make great efforts to develop local businesses since we feel responsible supporting them to recover from the recession."
To differentiate from many other banks, Yang said one of the most important services provided at BOCOM is its RMB service for Chinese enterprises.
"They can deposit, wire, exchange locally, get loans, and can hold RMB account at our bank," said Ge Jin, deputy general manager at the San Francisco branch, "our business scope also includes trade settlement, trade financing, treasury transactions, commercial lending, deposit and remittance, and we would like to grow steadily with our current customer base, some of them are Fortune 500 companies in China."
According to Yang, BOCOM today is one of the most important financial service providers in China. The bank's business focus includes commercial banking, securities services, trust services, financial leasing, fund management, insurance and offshore financial services. Its wholly-owned subsidiaries include BOCOM International Holdings Company Limited, China BOCOM Insurance Co Ltd and Bank of Communications Finance Leasing CO Ltd. Subsidiaries controlled by the Bank include Bank of Communications Schroder Fund Management Co Ltd, Bank of Communications International Trust Co Ltd, BoCommLife Insurance Company Limited, DayiBocommXingmin Rural Bank, Zhejiang Anji BOCOM Rural Bank Ltd, Xinjiang Shihezi BOCOM Rural Bank and Qingdao Laoshan BOCOM Rural Bank. In addition, the Bank is the largest shareholder of Jiangsu Changshu Rural Commercial Bank Co Ltd.
"Our bank has grown into a well-established modern commercial bank operating under a century old national brand with well-defined development strategy, perfected corporate governance, well developed banking network, advanced operation and management, quality banking service and sound financial status," said Yang, "and we also provide service with an emphasis on variety of industries such as clean energy, bio-chemical, and high-tech."
Yang emphasized the strategic importance of branching in San Francisco.
"San Francisco bay area is a very active market, all enterprises are looking into innovation. The incubation platform in Silicon Valley, for example, is a very strong segment of the market. Our bank is certainly influenced by this environment and we also intend to innovate our service in order to meet the needs of market demand," said Yang.
The bank's strategy is to become a first class listed comprehensive banking group, with focus on international expansion and wealth management.
"We pride ourselves in providing better services for customers, creating more value for shareholders and making greater contributions for the community. This can only be done with joint efforts between the domestic and overseas branches," said Yang.
Ben Chen, president of Chinese Enterprise Association (CEA), highly praised the effort made by BOCOM.
"BOCOM provides an important platform serving Chinese enterprises landing in San Francisco bay area, I've witnessed the tremendous effort made by them since day 1 in the US and it's quite a great leap forward," said Chen.
According to Yang, OCOM is looking to provide corporate customers with comprehensive and full-process financial services including international settlement, overseas loan syndication, cross-border cash management and financial advisory in respect of product import and export and cross-border investment and financing.