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Wells Fargo banks on China

By Zhang Qidong in San Francisco | China Daily | Updated: 2013-05-03 11:25

 Wells Fargo banks on China

Kenneth J. Petrilla says Wells Fargo wants to "facilitate and capture" China-related opportunities in the United States, both inbound and outboud. Zhang Qidong / China Daily

 

Signaling a growing interest in China-related opportunities, Wells Fargo is continuing to strengthen its capabilities and operations to better serve its customers in the United States and China.

"Helping our customers is the core culture of Wells Fargo Bank," said Kenneth J. Petrilla, executive vice-president and head of Global Banking Alliances and the China Desk at Wells Fargo. "Our global expansion aims to extend this culture to China. The newly established trade office of California in Shanghai is certainly providing us another layer of support for success in today's new market."

Wells Fargo has 65 staff employees in its Shanghai branch and five business representatives in Beijing.

Heading China Desk for the bank, which is headquartered in San Francisco, Petrilla, who visited the country recently with the delegation headed by California governor Jerry Brown, emphasized that its China strategy is consistent with its global strategy.

"We work to facilitate and capture China-related business in the United States, both inbound and outbound on banking products and services," he said. "We take both proactive and reactive approaches to service our customers."

Once those processes are established, he said, Wells Fargo can facilitate business prospects and establish relationships with them.

"Being one of the largest banks in the US, we offer 87 lines of business to our customers, including corporate commercial business, treasure management, foreign exchange, and commercial real estate. Our reactive approach would be based on our internal business portals to go after opportunities in all aspects of commercial banking, such as commercial real estate, and agriculture. For the China market, our principle is to have each business having their own China strategy in terms of protocol and analysis to save our time and energy on opportunities. In this perspective, our China Desk actually serves as a filter for all," he said.

Being the fourth-largest bank by assets and the largest bank by market capitalization in the US, however, Wells Fargo is cautious and conservative when it comes to global banking.

"We do not have any plans to do commercial banking in China, and personally, I do not believe that having a physical office in every city is necessary for a bank like ours," Petrilla said.

"Many banks are closing up offices in their international facilities. We are lucky we do not have any of that kind of baggage to worry about. The down side, of course, is that our competitors are more entrenched than us in international representation."

Petrilla said Wells Fargo's international group is building networks extensively with local Chinese communities, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, China SF, and Committee of 100 to bring awareness to potential Chinese customers.

"Some smaller banks are trying very hard, or harder than us, since they do not have the capability we enjoy. We have larger capacity than many of our competitors when it comes to commercial banking. It's a matter of how to further develop our profile and reputation in the Chinese community."

According to Petrilla, Wells Fargo is No 1 in the banking industry when it comes to commercial real estate, and more clients from China come to Wells Fargo for commercial real estate services because of its reputation and high profile. His China Desk takes a step further and helps Chinese banks in the US to facilitate business from China as a partner.

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