During her more than two decades of service, Nancy Zhang, head of corporate banking and executive vice-president of Citi China, has seen tremendous business opportunities brought to foreign banks by the continued reform and opening-up in China.
When she joined Citi in the early 1990s, the bank had set up branches in Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing. At that time, Citi China was limited to only a few types of business due to license restrictions.
The department of financial institutions she worked for was basically focused on providing Chinese banks with a US dollar clearing service and settlement network for international trade. The other main type of business of the bank was to satisfy the investment demand and banking service needs of multinational corporations that entered China.
As the country opened up on the scope of business for foreign banks, Citi China's areas of business have gradually expanded over the past few decades from foreign currency-denominated business to renminbi business, and from large corporates to small-and medium-sized enterprises and consumer banking.
Meanwhile, Zhang and her colleagues saw a growing number of Chinese companies going global as China kept deepening its reform and opening-up. The corporate demands evolved from domestic borrowing to international financing through bond issuance, syndicated loans, initial public offerings, and mergers and acquisitions.
"Chinese companies are growing fast thanks to the country's reform and opening-up, which has led to increasingly diversified corporate financial demands. Foreign banks can play a bigger role during the process," she said.
From 2006 to the present, more than 100 SMEs that Citi China has served listed on stock exchanges. Its commercial banking team has grown more than fourfold in the same period.