Investment banking in China | Top Banks List | Salary | Jobs

Investment Banking in China

Investment banking in China has surpassed all levels and it has become one of the best markets in the world. If we compare other markets with China, we will see that both in volumes and fees, China has taken a dominant position.

In this article, we will talk all about Investment Banking in China –

Here we discuss Investment Banking in China, however, if you want to know more about Mergers and Acquisitions, you can look at Mergers and Acquisitions Training

Investment Banking in China Overview

China has made its mark in the debt capital market (DCM), equity capital market (ECM), and also in M&A (Mergers & Acquisitions). During 2016 (the whole year), China accounted for 85.7% of DCM, 82.1% of ECM, and 52% of M&A in Asia in fees. If we club all the markets, China has taken over 76.6% of the investment banking in Asia in terms of fees.

The best part is China wasn’t an all-in-one dominant country in Investment Banking. It has grown over the years, especially since 2010. And since 2010, it has grown steadily. Inequity capital market, China accounted for 50.2% in Asia in fees. In the debt capital market, China was always strong, but not as good as it achieved in 2016. In M&A, China took over just 35% of the total Asia market in 2014 in fees.

However, there is a twist in the tale. In 2016, even if China accounted for 85.7% in DCM in terms of fees in Asia; in volume China only accounted for 74.9% in Asia. Though in the case of M&A, the story is reversed. China took over 65.3% in volume in 2016 in the Asian market which was 13.3%  more than its standing in terms of fees. In ECM, the things got closer – around 81.3% in volume and 82.1% in fees.

This data is curated by taking into account all dominant Asian countries except Japan. Let’s have a look at the data for DCM, ECM, and M&A.

Investment Banking in China - Asia


Investment Banking in China - Asia ECM


Investment Banking in China - Asia M&A


Investment Banking Services Offered in China

As mentioned in the overview, you got the idea that China is the most dominant country in terms of investment banking volume and fees in 2016. And that means investment banking in China offer similar kind of services.

Investment banking in China

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  • Debt Capital Market (DCM): Investment banks in China help their clients to organize borrowing and assist in accessing a large pool of investors all around the world who are looking for various opportunities. DCM is usually cheaper than ECM and debt adds a tinge of diversity in financing.
  • Equity Capital Market (ECM): Equity capital market is quite popular among investors because by issuing new stocks they can finance more funding whenever required. Chinese investment banks help their clients issue more stocks. These Chinese investment banks also help in an initial public offering (IPO) and also assist in underwriting offerings.
  • Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) Advisory: Investment banks in China offers advisory in mergers and acquisitions and also in divestitures. And a major portion of their resources is used in M&A deals. M&A advisory helps clients find suitable opportunities and create a synergy that can ultimately help in creating the results clients aim for.

These are the chief services Chinese investment banks offer. But there are a few things that are noteworthy. These investment banks have these three main features –

  • Huge investors’ relationships and network: Investment banking in China is based on one simple thing – relationship. Having a cordial relationship with all the investors and clients is key to the smooth running of the flow of work. Having great relationships help these investment banks find the right investor for the right project and they can offer strategic insights, great business contacts, and significant expertise in creating shareholders’ value.
  • Flawless & creative execution: Planning is of great importance; but if the execution is not proper and not done on time, most of the planning loses its value. Chinese investment banks boast of their incredible work ethic and flawless & creative execution.
  • Customized deal structuring: Chinese investment banks help clients with customized deals so that the clients can get the maximum value out of the deals and the transaction can be win-win for both of the parties.

List of Top Investment Banks in China

Leader League published the list of Top Investment Banks in China in Large Caps and Cross Border Deals. Here is the top banks’ list below –

Top Investment Banks in China - 2016 - large cap

source: Leaders League

Leaders League also published their recommendations for Investment Banking in China on Small & Medium Cap Investment Banks in the year 2016. They have divided these top Chinese investment banks into three rungs – “leading”, “excellent”, and “highly recommended”.

Top Investment Banks in China - 2016 - small and medium

source: Leaders League

Also, have a look at the list of Top Investment Banks Globally –

Investment Banking in China – Recruitment Process

The recruitment process in Investment banking in China is quite different. But there are few similarities as well with the US and the UK. Let’s now look at the recruitment process of investment banking in China –

  • Internships are the key ingredients: The whole world is emphasizing this concept of the internship. But in China, things are different. If you don’t have an internship in China, you will not get a job. The equation is simple – if you haven’t done any internship; it shows that you don’t have any interest in investment banking. And if you don’t have any investment banking, why investment banks in China will take interest in you. The second thing that’s most important in the case of internships is how many internships you should do. The experienced and recently hired investment bankers agree that only one internship will not do the trick. You need to have multiple internships and all the internships should be relevant. For example, if you do internships in any top-notch investment bank or private equity funds, the experience is relevant. Private equity is much different than investment banking, but working in private equity is better than having no internships at all. The next burning question is for how long you should do internships! The answer is at least six months. If you do internships for 2 months, that won’t add any value. Because banks won’t offer any valuable work to their interns until they work at least for a few months. In China, internships are often a great route to secure a full-time job; but that’s always not the case. And that brings us to the second point of discussion in the recruitment process. Also, read How to get Investment Banking Internship.
  • Top-notch universities are everything: In China, the main emphasis is on your background. It has nothing to do with who you’re if you have a brand university on your resume. For example, if you study in the US in a top-notch university, the banks will accept your application. So branded universities are everything. If you’re planning to work as an investment banker in China, your first emphasis is to study from a top-tier university in the world. It can be anywhere – the US, the UK or Australia. Just make sure that you’re attending a university that comes in the top 20 lists in the world. But what will happen if you don’t have access to top-tier university or can’t afford the fees? Here’s what you should do.
  • Network hard: If you’re not being able to attend a top-tier university, then your job is to network hard. Hard means you need to go to every door you can possibly find and connect with everyone you can get to know. If that means standing in the lobby of the bank to meet an analyst of the bank in person, do that. In a nutshell, if you don’t attend a top-tier university, it’s still possible to get a job in an investment bank in China; but it’s surely is an uphill battle.
  • Interview process: The interview process in Chinese investment banks works like this. Usually, there are two rounds and rarely there is an exception. The first round is a telephonic round where you will be seen as to whether you’re fit for the bank and for the job or not. This telephonic round is taken by the associates. In the second round, you need to appear before them and you need to answer questions before two executive directors (ED) and one Vice President (VP). You may be asked any questions. So you need to be ready. Questions like – “What’s the meaning of life?” “Tell me a joke” can be asked. You can expect any technical question or a fit question. You need to be ready for each and every question to get the green signal in the final round.

Investment Banking Culture in China

Even if Investment Banking in China has surpassed all of the countries in investment banking in Asia, it’s not a great place to work. People don’t like to come from other locations to work in China. The main reason is here deals are executed not based on skills/approach/technical ability. It depends solely on your networking skills. If you don’t know anyone in China, it would be difficult for you to close multiple deals.

M&A deals are less in China and ECM & DCM take prominence. That means you would be doing pretty less time working on complex models and technical aspects of M&A deals. That ultimately means your technical ability as an investment banker would never match with your counterparts in London or New York. But you would be pretty good at building relationships and tapping into your network.

Working 100+ hours of work per week is commonplace for analysts. But clients understand the value of the weekend and as a result, you get to have some downtime at the weekend where you can rejuvenate and can prepare for the next grueling week. You also need to travel a lot and you should know how to socialize because there will be ample opportunities to do that.

Also, have a look at Investment Banking Culture Globally.

Investment Banking Salaries in China

One of the main reasons for which Investment Banking in China is not very attractive for job-seekers is its low pay grade. When foreign Investment Banks built their offices in China, they started paying the local rate. As a result, the salaries become much lesser than it was paid in New York or London. And that has become the norm.

But things are starting to shift drastically. Investment banks in China have been realizing that to retain more resources, it’s important to pay hefty salaries to the best talents. Thus, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, UBS started to pay around US $80,000 – $100,000 per annum. Even some boutique banks have also started to pay the same salaries.

However, local banks/securities are yet to pay a better salary. They pay around RMB 20,000 to 30,000 per annum which is US $40,000 to $60,000 per annum.

Compared to the basic, the bonus is not certain. In some years, you can get a huge bonus and in other years, you can get almost none. And sometimes, the bonus is much more for juniors who have worked on the deals directly.

Let’s have a look at the figure for salaries paid by Chinese investment banks and global investment banks in China –

Investment banking in China


Investment Banking in China – Exit Opportunities

Unlike the US, the exit opportunities from Investment Banking in China are lesser. People don’t seem to leave investment banking just after 2-3 years of working. But they can and they usually do when they get an opportunity to shift their career profile.

There is one dominant exit option these bankers have and that is shifting to private equity. The reason that people don’t usually shift their career to private equity after a few years is that they are often promoted and given the opportunity to hold a higher position in the investment banks.

Also, read Investment Banking Exit Opportunities globally.

In the final analysis

Investment banking in China is quite different than the other parts of the world. If you want to make your mark in Chinese investment banks, all you need to do are two things – first, make sure that you want to go into the Chinese market and second, you are attending a top-tier university/college.

If these things work out well, you can go for a couple of great internships, and everything will ultimately fall in place.