Ms. Li Qingping
Chairperson and executive director of the Bank.
2019 is a remarkable year. It marks the 70th anniversary of the PRC and the 40th anniversary of CITIC Group, the substantial shareholder of the Bank. Driven by the dream and inspiration, the Bank continued to carry out reform and innovation, deepened strategic transformation, and endeavored to create values. It forged ahead on the journey of building CITIC Bank into an “enterprise offering the best comprehensive financial services”, and achieved high-quality annual development result. At this point, I would like to report to our shareholders that for the year 2019 the Group realized net operating income of RMB187.88 billion, up 13.3% year on year; and net profit attributable to the equity holders of RMB48.02 billion, 7.9% higher than last year, both seeing the highest rate of growth in recent years; assets of RMB6.75 trillion, up 11.3% over the end of the previous year; and ratio of non-performing loans (NPLs) of 1.65%, a decrease of 0.12 percentage point over the end of the previous year. Based on the favorable performance, the Board of Directors of the Bank recommended distributing dividends for ordinary shares in 2019 at RMB2.39 (before tax) per 10 shares, and submitted the proposal to the annual general meeting for approval.
Recently, the COVID-19 epidemic has been a great concern to everyone. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared COVID-19 a pandemic. The epidemic, to some extent, has slowed the economic growth and exerted negative influence on corporate operation. Moreover its containment is of great importance to everyone’s health. In particular, the transportation, tourism, catering and trade sectors are among the severely-hit industries, and the global financial market is also experiencing sharp fluctuations recently. In my opinion, history often rhymes. Every time when a “black swan” incident appears, there is a process of cognition and absorption, and the only thing we shall fear is fear itself. Meanwhile, we are more aware than ever that the fortune of our country is the cornerstone of our success. The positive long-term growth outlook for China’s economy remain unchanged. The remarkable institutional strengths, hugely resilient economy, enormous domestic demand, and adequate policy space provide sources of confidence for us, and also explain why the international community is optimistic about China. Risks are accompanied with potentialities. The “Black Swan” incident has brought not only challenges and pressure, but also opportunities and impetus. The epidemic will propel China to step up the pace of replacing old drivers of growth with new ones and industrial upgrading, and press ahead with the development of key sectors such as new-type infrastructure, mega consumption and mega health. Among them, the scientific and technological innovation represented by 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), data center and internet, and the improvements in the consumption pattern of education, medical care and social security are priorities for China’s economy to avoid falling into the “middle-income trap”, and achieve highquality development. China’s economy in 2020 is still worth expecting.
In light of the Bank’s operations and management, what I have pondered over recently is how to coordinate the our work on two “fronts”, namely provide as much support as possible for the epidemic containment on the one hand, and ensure sound and steady development of the Bank on the other hand. It is undeniable that difficulties and challenges do exist, as the interest spread of banking industry narrows and the NPLs might increase. However, solutions are not out of our reach. We will further embrace the trend, respect the laws of development and return to the Bank’s original mission, namely, to serve the real economy, focus on customer services, and control operational risks. The more difficulties we are experiencing, the more confident and resilient we shall remain. We will forge ahead and concentrate on our goal with every determination, and endeavor to build CITIC Bank into an unique and responsible enterprise offering the best comprehensive financial services with dignity and a human touch. Whenever it is yesterday, today or tomorrow, we have always worked hard to press ahead and will continue the journey of value creation.
We are committed to becoming a responsible enterprise, as we embed our development to the fortune of our country, and endeavor to be a patriotic state-owned enterprise. Right after the outbreak of COVID-19, we donated RMB50 million to support the epidemic containment, patient treatment, and medical staff protection. We were the first financial institution of the nation that had donated money to fight against the epidemic through China Charity Federation. We took financial measures, such as improving payment settlement, increasing online financing, opening green channels, reducing related fees, and allocating special fund, to provide financial support for the epidemic prevention and control. In particular, we reinforced financial services and support for enterprises engaged in the fight against the epidemic and those that were severely hit by the epidemic so as to help them overcome difficulties. We proactively contacted enterprises producing medicine and medical supplies, provided financial resources for them, and reduced the financing interest rate to support the frontline enterprises in the battle against the epidemic. After knowing that Wangshunge and Haidilao, both catering enterprises, were temporarily in a financial predicament, we swiftly granted loans to support them within one week, hoping that our efforts would offer “invisible wings” to help them out and give a strong boost to their development.
All that we have done is not out of improvisation. Established during China’s reform and openingup policy, the Bank has prospered along with economic and social development of the state, and it has always been pursuing the right approach to principles and interests by serving the real economy and honoring its social responsibilities. In recent years, we have vigorously developed inclusive finance, gave full support to private enterprises and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to help achieve high-quality development of the real economy. At the end of 2019, as per the CBIRC’s assessment standards, the Bank’s balance of inclusive finance loans stood at RMB204.26 billion, an increase of RMB67.9 billion or nearly 50% year on year. Behind these figures lies our commitment to our mission. As the Chinese old saying goes, in spite of difficulties, we shall be open-minded and far-sighted. We do not limit our service to granting loans. Instead, we serve customers with the aim of meeting enterprises’ financial needs at various stages of development. A Chairman of a Shenzhen-based private enterprise engaging in electronic technology expressed his gratitude for us in this way: “When we were in need, CITIC Bank helped us, which really encouraged me and other entrepreneurs around”. In 2018 when this company encountered with the daunting challenges known as “three huge mountains”, namely, market as an iceberg, financing as a high mountain, and transformation as a volcano. At the time, we took measures quickly, worked out a comprehensive financial plan, and provided timely support on the precondition of ensuring risk control. With our help, the company has returned to the right trajectory, and now leads in many segmented fields. Firmly upholding the philosophy of “growing together with enterprises” instead of putting profit first when our corporate clients are in difficulties, we interpreted the commitments of a bank and the responsibilities of a state-owed enterprise with our actions. In the future, we will strive to create greater value by doing right things and doing things in a right way.
We are committed to becoming an enterprise with a human touch, closely link our development with serving customers and improving employees’ wellbeing, and endeavor to develop into a benevolent enterprise. The epidemic outbreak witnessed our commitment. We provided volunteer consultation and healthcare lectures jointly with online medical institutions, and tried our best to protect customers’ health and safety. In particular, we launched a dedicated telephone service line for elderly customers, developed an exclusive mobile banking system, and established the “Happiness 1+6”, a financial service system for the elderly, to take care of this group. We have always put ourselves into clients’ shoes. Suspecting the cash carrying the virus, an elderly customer in Nanjing put RMB3,000’s cash into the microwave oven for sterilization and burned the cash in the end. Despite the fact that machine failed to identify the cash and the remained cash were vulnerable to secondary damage, one of our client managers overcame difficulties and manually cleaned and distinguished the cash, and changed the money in full amount, moving the elderly customer with patient and considerate services. We raised fund for enterprises related to the people’s livelihood through multiple channels. We launched the first epidemic containment bond at the entire market and in over ten provinces and cities. The fund raised therefrom was used in such areas as harmless disposal of virus-related special waste, spring agricultural production, hog raising, e-commerce logistics, and emergency reserves, widely acclaimed by bond issuers including Wumart Group and JD.com and governments at different levels. The list of such examples goes on and on, evidencing our core value of “customer orientation”. We give greater priority to improving customer experience and meeting their needs, and the Bank’s brand image of “guarding the warmth of inheritance with good faith” has gradually taken root among the public. In 2019, the retail customers of the Bank and the credit cards issued by the Bank exceeded the 100 million mark and the 80 million mark respectively. The Bank recorded 743,000 accounts of corporate customers, an increase of 3.2 times the previous year’s increment and the highest rate of growth in recent years. In the future, we will continue to build a more considerate, vigorous and convenient operation system for customers through online, intelligent and customized means.
While ensuring good services for customers, we have always kept in mind that employees are treasure for sustainable development. We are fully aware that the taste ocean is decided by each drop of water in it. We do our best to take care of our employees to ensure that every one of them can work with passion and joy and live with dignity and happiness so as to let our employees pass on this positive energy to customers and the society. During the epidemic period, some of our employees worked day and night and played an active and indispensable role in meeting the financial needs of enterprises engaged in the epidemic containment, and others, despite the dreadful windy and snowy weather, persisted in inspecting the workplace to eliminate the potential risks. One of our employees in Lhasa Branch has not taken a single day off since the Spring Festival. He expressed that since Lhasa is located in of high-altitude, cold and oxygen poor condition, catching a cold may be life-threatening; when he brought the protective gear to customers, and when he taught a Tibetan grandma how to wear a mask, he thought all his efforts were worthwhile. Such kind of sincerity and genuineness are being integrated into our corporate culture, encouraging more colleagues to provide considerate services.
We are committed to becoming a unique enterprise with differentiated competitive advantages, and endeavor to develop into a commercial bank with unique capability for value creation. Synergy is our wealth. We have given full play to CITIC Group’s unique advantages in “Finance + the Real Economy” to provide customers with comprehensive cross-border and cross-market services by way of “CITIC United Fleet”. In 2019, the Bank implemented 557 collaborative projects in partnership with the affiliates under CITIC Group including CITIC Securities, China Securities, CITIC Trust, and CITIC Capital, with products covering bond underwriting, equity investment, trust plan, financial lease and other categories, co-financing RMB640 billion for corporate customers. The synergy strategy has inexhaustible potential. It is more than one point, we wish to extend it into a plane where we can build a scenario-based and platform-based ecosystem. Through it, we can transform our strengths in providing a basket of comprehensive financial solutions into greater value. For example, in the elderly care industry, the Bank has arranged three pillars: it is one of the major partner banks of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security in the national social security fund; it provides annuity services for near 1,000 enterprises nationwide and won the bid for the custodianship of the occupational annuity plans of the central state organs and institutions and 25 provinces, cities and autonomous regions; it actively worked on connecting its system with that of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and joint product R&D. Once leveraging CITIC Group’s comprehensive strengths in mega consumption, mega cultural tourism, mega health and real estate sectors, we are likely to develop both elderly care finance and non-financial services at the same time, and build an all-around elderly care eco-system to ensure the elderly enjoys access to a wide range of services in caring, medical care, learning, tourism and recreation. We sincerely welcome the elderly customers with open arms to join hands with us and pursue a higher-quality elderly life. We also hope that our insight and systematic operation will further boost the development of the elderly care industry and the building of the public health system.
Innovation is in the genes of Bank. We attach great importance to the new economy, new models and new trends as well as accompanied changes brought by the internet era, and spare no effort to increase investment in technology to empower business development. With such efforts, finance and technology spark up new achievements: The CITIC AI Brain, an AI platform independently developed by the Bank, has been launched and used for over 100 precision financial services; the real-time intelligent products brought in the sale of wealth management products of RMB160 billion, and drove the scale of asset management to increase by RMB41 billion. Within only two years after its opening, CITIC aiBank has been recognized as a state-level high-tech enterprise, recorded more than 32 million users, opened more than 350 APIs, and connected with more than 80 scenarios,
continuously enhancing its capability of ecosystem extension and improving its market influence. The Bank has taken a leading role in blockchain technology and application in the banking sector. More than 20 banks joined the blockchain trade finance platform led by the Bank, and the onchain transaction volume exceeded RMB100 billion. All these epitomize the Bank’s achievements in increasing investment in technology, and also represent the hardcore fruits that the flowers of innovation have turned into. In the future, we will accelerate digital transformation in an all-around manner, and demonstrate the “CITIC acceleration” in the race of digital competition.
Internationalization is our aspiration. Through years of efforts, our layout for internationalized operation has taken initial shape, with institutions distributed in Hong Kong, Macao, New York, Los Angeles, London and Singapore. In recent years, we have intensified efforts to improve capability for integrated cross-border services, and became the first Chinese bank to acquire bank equity in the countries along the Belt and Road initiative. One year has passed since CITIC Bank completed the acquisition of a majority stake in JSC Altyn Bank of Kazakhstan. ROA and ROE of JSC Altyn Bank have increased from 2.5% and 24.1% in the first half of 2018 to 3.2% and 29.2% in 2019, respectively; the NPL ratio was the lowest among commercial banks of Kazakhstan; and JSC Altyn Bank has retained the highest credit rating throughout the country. More importantly, via this “bridge”, CITIC Bank is playing a more and more important role in promoting mutually beneficial cooperation between Chinese and Kazakhstani enterprises. In 2019, we co-sponsored the First Chinese-Kazakhstani Hi-tech Enterprises Summit with JSC Altyn Bank, and broke new ground by facilitating the signing of cooperation agreements by 10 enterprises. As result of such efforts, first batch of beef from Kazakhstan was imported into Beijing Xinfadi Market at the end of last year. In the future, we will see more and more cooperative programs carried out. Relying on the layout of cross-border institution layout, we are committed to building a well-structured globalized financial trade network. With the opening of London Branch of the Bank last year, a 24-hour transaction platform connecting Beijing-Hong Kong-London-New York financial markets has been established, marking a milestone for our building of a global financial service eco-system. Looking forward, as the two-way openness in China’s capital market continuously advances, the international comprehensive service network built by us today will have its role to play like never before.
We are committed to becoming an enterprise with dignity, work hard to win recognition from market and customers and gain trust from shareholders and employees, and endeavor to build up a century-old brand image. In 2019, The Banker magazine of the United Kingdom ranked the Bank the 19th on its list of the “Top 500 Global Bank Brands”, five places higher than the previous year, and the 26th on its list of the “Top 1,000 World Banks” in terms of tier-one capital, one place higher than the previous year. In the face of such lists, while enjoying the excitement, we remain rational and sober-minded. We are fully aware that only after experiencing multiple ups and downs, can such century-old brands as Citibank and Wells Fargo be forged into what we see today and stand out of the world banking, and there were also some financial institutions, once remarkably competitive and highly-accomplished, went bankruptcy. In retrospect of all those successes and failures, right strategies, stable operation and management, compliant and effective risk control are critical factors, and all of these are decided by a bank’s ability of governance. To develop into a century-old brand and achieve high-quality development, the Bank shall focus on its own development and strengthen its resilience, which is particularly important under the extraordinary and unprecedented changes unfolding now.
In 2020, we will explicitly make strengthening governance a top priority of the work throughout the year, and pursue development through transformation, standardization and stability amidst the overall enhancement of our country’s governance system and capacity for governance. We will unwaveringly strengthen Party leadership, and promote in-depth integration of Party leadership into modern corporate system; we will maintain our orientation, ignite the impetus and tap the synergy for high-quality development of the Bank. We will work for advancing the risk management system reform, make proactive risk forestalling and mitigation our top priority, improve the accountability system and authorization system so as to extend our protective shield as much as possible and comprehensively raise the risk control level. We will constantly improve the internal control compliance work, hold on to the bottom line of compliant operations, and enhance oversight and accountability to advance the “Safe CITIC” initiative. We will intensify our efforts to strengthen the building of corporate culture, vigorously carry forward the spirits of loyalty, self-discipline, fighting, responsibility and pragmatism to foster a healthy business atmosphere of integrity and ensure that we will always take a lead in the competition.
Finally, let me quote a line from Chinese poet Ai Qing “Go and ask the thawing land, go and ask the thawing river.” This poem was composed in 1980 to depict the historic trend as China undertook the reform and opening-up policy then. As China further deepens reform and opening-up in the new era, we can still feel the inexhaustible energy and dynamism throughout the country. I believe as long as we continue to forge ahead towards our defined direction, we will accomplish greater achievements. Meanwhile, I hope our investors will, as always, give their support to us along this journey.
Chairperson, Executive Director
26 March 2020
Mr. Fang Heying
Executive director, President and Chief Financial Officer of the Bank.
The year 2020 was an extraordinary year full of challenges. A complicated international situation, coupled with the globally sweeping COVID-19, presented banks’ operation and development with numerous uncertainties. However, it is our firm belief that the constant in the world is nothing but change itself. Under the strategic leadership of the Board of Directors, the management strove to identify changes wittily, respond resourcefully and deal with risks and challenges calmly. Spotting early opportunities from crisis and setting the stage amid changes, we attained sound results.
Throughout the year, we realized RMB195.399 billion operating income, a year-on-year increase of 4.00%, with profit before provisioning recording RMB140.846 billion, a year-on-year increase of 5.27% and net profit attributable to shareholders reaching RMB48.98 billion, a year-on-year increase of 2.01%. The Board of Directors suggested the dividend distribution of RMB12.429 billion in 2020, namely RMB2.54 per 10 shares, an increase of 6.28% compared with the previous year and the 3rd consecutive year of rise in dividends, so as to give back to the vast shareholders for the lasting care and support.
As at the end of 2020, our total assets amounted to RMB7.51 trillion, up by 11.27% over the end of last year; deposits hit RMB4.53 trillion, up by 12.12% over the end of last year; and loans totaled RMB4.47 trillion, up by 11.89% over the end of last year. All stayed at the forefront of China’s joint-stock banks.
To our great delight, the NPL ratio dropped to 1.64% as at the end of the year, a new low in the past five years, indicating a clear trend of asset quality changes. This achievement was especially tremendous, given the fact that all credit card loans and personal loans overdue for more than 60 days were downgraded as NPLs in the year. As at the end of the year, both the ratio of loans overdue for more than 60 days to NPLs and the ratio of loans overdue for more than 90 days to NPLs hit the lowest level of recent years. At the same time, we set aside more provisions, which throughout the year totaled RMB82.99 billion, increasing 7.4% year on year. The allowance coverage ratio and the ratio of allowance for impairment of loans to total loans stood at 171.68% and 2.82%, both staying at a sound level.
In 2020, placing equal stress on quality, speed and long-term goals, we cemented our business foundation, optimized our structure, advanced transformation and enhanced management. We evolved with time while inheriting and overcame difficulties along the way ahead. Every effort we had made was converted into China CITIC Bank’s value and growth.
In 2020, we fulfilled our missions and responsibilities, and shared weal and woe with real economy enterprises.
In 2020, the outbreak of COVID-19 battered at the real economy. Sharing the fate with all the Chinese people, we gave full play to the role of banking in supporting the real economy and pandemic control, and provided more supports to the manufacturing as well as small and micro enterprises and private business that bore the brunt of the pandemic. As at the end of 2020, the Bank’s outstanding loans granted to the manufacturing sector stood at RMB326.8 billion, an increase of 27% from the beginning of the year; outstanding inclusive finance loans surged by 44% from the beginning of the year reaching RMB325.1 billion; and loans granted to private enterprises went up by nearly RMB20 billion, accounting for 39% of the total. By opening up green channels for loan review and approval, we went all out to meet the corporate loan demands related to or directly for pandemic control. Throughout the year, we issued anti-epidemic loans totaling RMB195.9 billion and underwrote 38 anti-epidemic bonds, raising funds of RMB26.8 billion. Through these efforts, we contributed CITIC power to this the critical battle against the virus.
Closely following up with major policies and guidelines of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council as well as new trends in economic development, we made overall planning and highly targeted efforts, and channeled credit resources to new infrastructure and new urbanization initiatives as well as major projects and to benefit high-tech and high-growth corporations. Throughout the year, our new loans granted to the industries falling within categories of active support and support accounted for 73% of the total. Specifically, the increase in loans to water conservancy, environment and public utilities management, with a growth rate of near 28%, led other segments; integrated circuit design & manufacturing and communication equipment manufacturing, two typical cases of high-end manufacturing industries saw their on- and off-balance sheet credit extension balance soaring from the beginning of the year by 138% and 86%, respectively. At the same time, we planned in advance to build industry research teams, focusing on key areas such as non-contact economy, 5G and biomedicine and making arrangements for pension finance so as to foster more new drivers for future sustainable development.
By insisting on the key regional development strategies of the state, we accurately implemented differentiated development strategies for different regions. To be specific, we increased credit support for the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the Yangtze River Delta and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. The outstanding loans granted to the above three regions totaled RMB1.1 trillion, and new corporate loans granted to those regions accounted for nearly 60% of the total. Making full use of the radiating role of branches’ in core regions we guided the surrounding branches for collaborative and synergistic development. In doing so, we formed a regional development pattern which featured a reasonable structure, prominent priorities and distinctive characteristics, under which, we contributed new energy for the development of national key regions and the financial supply-side structural reform with our strength.
Dedicated to the belief of originating from and giving back to the society, we fully leveraged our financial strength to engage in precision poverty alleviation. As to the distinctive industries of poor areas with market prospects, we actively promoted supply chain finance, so that the featured planting and breeding industries and the agricultural product processing industries could be developed to lift the poverty-stricken households along the upstream and downstream of these industrial chains out of poverty and propel people in poor regions towards self-sufficiency. We vigorously supported the development of the leading enterprises that did well in raising people out of poverty. Our outstanding loans for precision poverty alleviation with financial services stood at RMB29.2 billion, an increase about RMB7 billion over the end of the previous year, which effectively promoted local enterprises towards rapid development. As at the end of 2020, we managed to help 124 poverty-stricken villages nationwide and Xietongmen County in Tibet shake off poverty and pass the official poverty reduction inspection and lifted 35,500 persons from 11,900 households out of poverty completely.
These challenges in 2020 have further convinced us that if we want to go farther steadily, we must return to our founding aspiration and give full play to our due role in empowering the real economy, supporting the formation of innovative systems, and serving virtuous market circulation. We set eyes on meeting needs of the Chinese society. While channeling financial resources to the places where they were in dire need, we continued to improve the adaptability and flexibility of the financial supply centered on credit, and thus got more out of resources and production factors through optimal allocation.
In 2020, we promoted business transformation with intensified efforts, further highlighting our business characteristics and market competitiveness.
We are clearly aware that a modern commercial bank must take a pathway featuring capital light, asset light and cost light development. In recent years, we have continued to promote the transformation of our business structure from “One Body, Two Wings” to “Troika”. With retail and financial market sectors as two key points from which light development was promoted, corporate, retail and financial markets, as three major business sectors, saw their proportion in the Bank’s net operating income changing from 55.4%, 34.6%, and 7.0% three years ago to 45.8%, 40.8%, and 11.6% in 2020. A more balanced business structure would enable us to better withstand changes in the economic cycle and enhance our ability to attain sustainable development. At the same time, we worked harder to adjust the balance sheet. On the asset side, we stepped up efforts to clean up inefficient and ineffective assets, promoted assets towards active circulation, and moderately increased the proportion of low- risk interbank and investment businesses. As a result, the comprehensive risk weight decreased by
3.95 percentage points compared with the previous year. We strove to build up revenue generation capabilities, and expanded sources of capital-light income from such dimensions as customer, market, synergy and innovation. Throughout the year, our net non-interest income hit RMB44.9 billion, up by RMB3.93 billion compared with the previous year. We attached high importance to cost control and launched “income increase and cost cut” campaign, through which a host of measures such as intensified liability restructuring, enhanced control over operating cost, and higher efficiency of capital utilization were adopted to cut down on liability costs, operating costs, capital costs and other types of costs totaling RMB6.72 billion. As a result, the cost-to-income ratio stood at 26.73%, down by 1.11 percentage points year on year.
Synergy is one of our unique business cards. As the largest financial subsidiary of CITIC Group, we deem synergy as an important way for us to amplify CITIC Group’s comprehensive advantages, and a necessary force that underpins our strategic development. The unique advantages CITIC Group have long formed in “Finance + Industry” and the emphasis for international development in its DNA have set the stage for us to provide customers with one-stop integrated financial services at home and abroad. In 2020, we worked together with CITIC Securities, China Securities, CITIC Trust, CITIC Prudential Life and other financial subsidiaries of CITIC Group to furnish customers with joint financing of RMB1,078.2 billion, a year-on-year increase of 68%. This was also the first time for the indicator to cross the RMB1 trillion mark. The products under custody from CITIC Group’s subsidiaries reached RMB845.8 billion, a year-on-year increase of 20%, and generated a revenue beyond RMB300 million. The cross-selling of products under the retail business line hit RMB45.1 billion, 2.4 times that of the previous year.
Distinctive development is crucial to our current and future efforts to construct a “technology moat”. In recent years, we have continued to consolidate our advantages in developing distinctive businesses, actively cultivated various forms of emerging businesses, and strove to create a batch of “single big products” with CITIC characteristics. We made every effort to develop transaction banking business by launching multiple transaction financing, payment and settlement products. The number of transaction banking customers went beyond 700,000, and the transaction financing volume reached RMB337.7 billion, 3.4 times that of the previous year. In the meantime, we kept sharpening our competitive edges in investment banking, financial markets and international business. In 2020, we underwrote debt financing instruments of more than RMB630 billion, completed forex market making transactions totaling USD1.69 trillion, and conducted cross-border Renminbi receipts and payments amounting to RMB325.2 billion, maintaining the leading position in the market. We continued to strengthen government financial services, thus having formed a full ecological chain that covered “governments + corporate and public institutions + the public”. We had 43,100 institutional customers of all sorts, with daily average deposits of nearly RMB1,180 billion. As our retail banking kept releasing its momentum in the transformation process, the number of individual customers and the number of users of the “CITIC U Enjoy+” platform both exceeded 100 million, and the number of credit cards issued went beyond 92 million. Going abroad financial services have long been one of our featured businesses, and visa services are even one of our defining labels. In 2020, we recorded more than 7.63 million accounts of customers using our going abroad financial services, with the assets under management approaching RMB1 trillion. Our private banking saw its brand value becoming increasingly prominent. It had more than 50,000 customers and managed assets worth RMB680.3 billion. The two flagship products, family trust and carte blanche of private banking, surged by 54% and 71% year on year, respectively.
In 2020, we reinforced IT empowerment, and achieved fruitful results in innovation-driven development and digital finance.
Technological innovation is the primary productivity that drives development. Since recent years, we have unswervingly implemented the new development philosophy, continued to seek reform and innovation, increased investment in science and technology, and moved towards the goal of becoming a top technology-driven bank. In 2020, our investment in science and technology was close to RMB7 billion, an increase of 24% over the previous year. The number of scientific and technical personnel quadrupled in two years, accounting for 7.6% of total. Thanks to continuous investment over the long term, we have established a market image of “being brave to innovate and leading in technology”, and made important progress in digital transformation, which becomes another shining business card for us in the market.
We are well aware that if product innovation is “water”, then institutional innovation will be the “wellspring”. Only by setting up sound innovation institutions, can we “have inspirations needed by product innovation from the inexhaustible source”. From the establishment of an innovation management committee to the incorporation of a financial product IT innovation laboratory and to the creation of the industry’s first R&D section dedicated to empowering the development of branches last year, we have put in place an integrated IT empowerment system that could cover product R&D, marketing support, technology output, one-stop services, sharing center and other fields. Under the system, IT teams could directly serve business departments and branches, and send a steady flow of technical support to the front-line business personnel. Over the year since the establishment of the branch-targeted R&D section, 100% of front-line requests were responded properly, the average time required by end-to-end delivery was halved to 15 working days, a 50% further improvement compared with the previous year.
Underpinned and driven by the scientific and technological forces, we in 2020 put in place 63 innovative projects under category I, and launched a number of projects enjoying sufficient support, high reputation and good profitability. We led China’s medium and large-sized banks to put into operation the first independently-developed distributed core system (“Lingyun Project”). By doing so, we contributed a “CITIC solution” to the realization of independent control over critical financial infrastructure of China, and upgraded our FinTech empowerment capabilities on all fronts. Meanwhile, we accelerated the R&D and application of new technologies such as AI and blockchain. The AI platform, called “CITIC Brain” generated over 300 “AI + data” precision models, thus providing real-time intelligent services to over 10 million customers. Additionally, we led peer banks in terms of blockchain technology R&D and application and the blockchain forfaiting transaction platform was recognized by the regulatory authorities and upgraded to a national industrial platform.
With business development boosted by technology, our digital finance strategy is advancing at full speed, to empower operation and management in every respect. With digital marketing efforts intensified, we attracted another 12,800 customers and deposits of RMB53.9 billion with the help of chain-based and product-based customer acquisition models. We developed a retail operation system that contributed to an increase in assets by nearly RMB200 billion, and intelligent recommendations of wealth management AI led to online sales of over RMB230 billion. We intensified efforts in delivering digital services. Through online processing, mobile approval and intelligent customer identification, we reduced time required for corporate account opening by about 30%. We accelerated the formation of ecological scenarios. More than 5,500 business scenarios were created along with hundreds of partners such as UnionPay, DiDi, and JD.com to serve 5.2 million users and 390 million fund transactions were carried out in total.
In 2020, we strengthened risk management, making business development and risk control even more coordinated and unified.
Development can only be attained on the base of sound risk control. Aiming at building a risk management system in which risks could be put under control and development could be boosted, we took development as the most important task and tried to solve problems with a development- oriented approach. At the same time, we made sure that development must be achieved with risk factors filtered, risk control coordinated, and efficient compliance risk management, thus laying a solid foundation for sustainable development.
We continued to improve comprehensive risk management standards, put in place a responsibility management mechanism where duties, powers and interests could match and customer operation and risk management are integrated, and established the principal responsible person mechanism for operation and the full-time approver mechanism. We kept strengthening the transmission and implementation of credit policies. To be specific, we integrated credit policies with marketing guides, inspection and approval standards, performance appraisal norms, and policies on resources allocation. And we established an authorization system with upper limits, standards, responsibilities and supervision measures. Following the four principles of “taking into account quality, customer, location and person”, we delegated authority to branches on a more differentiated basis. While stimulating the vitality of operation at the primary level, we also strengthen authorization review to form a closed management loop, upholding the bottom line for risk control.
We continued to optimize the allocation of general-category assets, by concentrating credit resources on the fields that were great in asset quality and strongly countercyclical. In doing so, we were intended to thicken the “safe cushion” for development. As at the end of 2020, our outstanding credit lines granted to such key industries as water, environment, rental and business services, production and supply of electric power, gas and water, and transportation accounted for nearly 45% of the total. Of which, those going to corporate customers rated at “A” or above took a share close to 70%. The proportion of retail loans to total credit went up to nearly 43%. All of these figures justified further improved asset quality.
We moved faster in digital transformation of risk management, intensified efforts to build the digital risk control system, and facilitated the application of intelligent risk control fruits in the whole credit process and online business. In 2020, we supported the development of 10-plus online products and established over 20 multi-dimensional risk portraying models for corporate, inclusive finance and individual customers. We integrated big data to set up a proactive risk forewarning system, which could carry out risk prediction and screening on customers in key areas based on forewarning signals to conduct risk prevention and control in a much more forward-looking and accurate way. To boost our digital risk control capabilities, we independently developed real-time, intelligent anti-fraud and anti-money laundering (AML) systems, through which the accuracy of real-time transaction monitoring and interception operations was as high as 90%, and the offline risk control and screening function managed to intercept over 17,000 risk events.
The year 2021 marks the launch of China’s 14th Five-Year Plan as well as the starting year for China CITIC Bank to implement its 2021-2023 plan. Standing at a new starting point, we will feel the beat of China’s initiative to promote high-quality development, get well adapted to the new stage of development, implement the new development philosophy, and fit well into the new development pattern. Taking high-tech development as the engine, high-quality growth as the goal, and high-value creation as the main task, we will, through the leading role of Party building, coordinate efforts to attain integrated, light, intensive development, and strive to become a responsible, unique and valuable provider of the best comprehensive financial services with a human touch.
In the next three years, we will work harder to develop core businesses, and endow our businesses with more distinctive characteristics. We will continue to promote capital-light development, and form a business pattern with a more coordinated structure and more characteristic competitive edges. Laser-focused on the established strategies, we will increase resource input in core customers, core products and core regions, so as to expand competitive advantages and amplify value contribution constantly. Leveraging the advantage of full financial licenses of CITIC Group, we will make wealth management business grow stronger, and strive to become customers’ first choice of wealth management bank.
In the next three years, we will give full play to the driving role of innovation, and allow our superior digital technologies to shine through. We will shore up the building of an innovative development system, strengthen the technology-driven development, forge a full-process, commercial- grade agile operation system, and build the China CITIC Bank cloud platform, in a bid to enhance the driving force of technological innovation on all fronts. With the continuously intensified input in scientific and technological development and accelerated digital transformation, we will build ourselves into a top technology-driven bank that can drive more innovations and bring about greater changes through the joint efforts made in both technology and business development.
In the next three years, we will firmly hold the bottom line for risk management, and put in place a more robust compliance and internal control system. Adhering to the concept that “risk control creates value”, we will do better in risk prediction and forewarning. Through “precise credit supply”, we will make overall planning for “promoting the real economy” and “guarding against various risks”, optimize the credit structure, resolutely maintain our comparative advantage in traditional fields, and vigorously march into emerging sectors. With respect to “efficient risk prevention”, we will strengthen the application of digital risk control technologies, move faster to build intelligent forewarning and a full risk view, and enhance the pertinence and effectiveness of risk management. As to “impactful management means”, we will exercise a more rigid control over key areas and enhance the initiative of risk management, so as to support high-quality, sustainable development.
In the next three years, we will go further in synergistic integration, and make overall collaboration more effective. Following the principle of “One CITIC, One Customer” and relying on the unique competitive advantages of CITIC Group in putting equal importance on both financial and non-financial businesses, we will reinforce all-around comprehensive collaboration and fully unlock the potential of synergistic development. We will roll out innovative collaborative models and improve collaborative mechanisms to form an sharing ecosystem that provides strong support for our ambition to become a comprehensive financial service provider and further establish “CITIC Synergy+” as a top-notch brand.
As all shareholders know, Chairman of CITIC Group Mr. Zhu Hexian has recently been nominated and elected as Chairman of China CITIC Bank by our Board of Directors. Mr. Zhu has worked in the financial sector for more than 20 years, and accumulated abundant theoretical knowledge and practical experience. As we firmly believe, China CITIC Bank, under the leadership of Chairman Zhu and with the all-round support of CITIC Group, will forge ahead towards a glorious future. Delivering an even better performance is the best way for us to serve our country, replay our shareholders, and answer the call of the times! The future of China CITIC Bank is worth looking forward to!
Executive Director, President
25 March 2021