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China slow to overhaul $3.9tn bank wealth management sector

Focus on growth hinders reform while top talent remains hard to find

The "Big Four" state-owned banks' wealth management product units together manage about 4.45 trillion yuan of assets.   © Reuters

Halfway through what is supposed to be the final year of a transition to sweeping new rules covering asset management in China, the bank-based sector of the $3.9 trillion industry is deeply mired in a struggle to accomplish all it needs to by the end of 2021.

Wealth management products (WMPs) issued by banks, which account for a third of the industry, face the most dramatic transition under the new rules. While some WMP units created by banks under new regulations have made significant progress in revamping their business, sketchy practices remain, according to industry experts.

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