Chengdu is gradually moving up the globe’s banking and financial ranks, and with sixty plus local banks and sixteen leading global banks all jostling for market share in this RMB 1 trillion economy, one is prompted to ask “how an inland city managed to attract investment of such strategic economic significance”.

Indeed, Chengdu’s banking and finance story is a classic case of prudent planning, natural evolution and a proactive attitude.  This story took many years to cultivate and commenced well before the launch of China’s ‘Go West Policy’, at the cusp of the 21st century.  

Chengdu and Sichuan, from the early 1990’s, took a different trajectory to many other Central and Western Chinese centres and purposefully crafted its unique capabilities and industries, and its banking centre naturally evolved from this as a mainstay of its economic life.  Whereas in other cities finance stimulates economic growth, in Chengdu it is the people’s creative and entrepreneurial flare that have achieved it , combined with the meticulous planning that cemented its economic dominance.  This did not happen by accident and its financial future rests in the hands of its institutions and people, who have an esteemed respect for the rule of law, a great work life balance, and live in a city known as “Honest Chengdu”.

Today Chengdu’s banking and finance industry has over sixty plus local banks, one hundred plus security and futures companies, one hundred and fifty plus financial guarantee corporations, and over sixteen foreign banks; including Citibank, HSBC and Standard Chartered.  Chengdu also has the largest financial transaction volume in Western China and its economic output is valued at RMB 107.48 billion, accounting for 10.7% of its GDP, as noted by the 2015 Chengdu investment guide.  Significantly, The People’s Bank of China and China’s banking and insurance regulators have all developed their regional headquarters in Chengdu.

The central and local authorities have also developed an innovative plan known as ‘Tianfu International Financial city” within South Chengdu, housing a financial district, regulatory institutions and both local and international banks.  We recently visited the Financial City and were awed by the building activity.  We talked to finance professionals and they all agreed Chengdu’s banking stability is due to its careful planning, natural economic evolution and its people’s proactive attitude.

Indeed many commentators tend to ‘gloss over’ Chengdu’s banking and finance figures and statistics, and do not really understand how it has evolved or what role the institutions and its citizens have played in its success and sustainability.

Chengdu and Sichuan province have populations of 14 million and over 85 million respectively, with a growing per capita income and core capabilities in advanced automotive manufacturing, bio-pharmaceuticals, culture, food manufacturing, shale gas, IT and high-tech, tourism and transportation, to name but a few.  This is a classic case of a City’s and Province’s natural economic progression.  Not to forget Chengdu’s unique and technically strong talent pool, with over 3.54 million professionals and leading universities, including Sichuan University, Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, and the University of Electronic Science and Technology China; they have all played their part in this natural economic evolution.

Finally, two words resonate very deeply with and its founders: “Honest Chengdu”.  Honesty is a business ethic that many corporations and individuals aspire to, but on occasions fail to incorporate into their daily lives.  We regularly hear of the chaotic rumblings in various global financial cities and say to ourselves "what are these people doing?  Don’t they know they cannot carry on with such wayward and unethical practices”.  But in Chengdu’s case its citizens incorporate honesty into their way of life and this has been instrumental in developing its prosperity and longevity.

Disclaimer – This article was researched and written by