CEO of BlackRock, Laurence Fink. Photo: AFP/Toru Yamanaka

Larry Fink, chairman of the world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock, expects China’s financial sector to open up to foreign investment by June, according to a report on Thursday.

“We are excited about the opportunity that we expect in June whereby there will be more flexibility of having 51% ownership of an asset manager, then maybe possibly in three years 100% ownership,” Fink, who is also the company’s CEO, told Caixin in Beijing, where he was attending the China Development Forum.

Fink was on the list of executives who met with Xi Jinping’s top economic advisor Liu He in Washington in February. Business leaders at the gathering in Beijing are reportedly going to meet next week with the China’s new vice-president, Wang Qishan. Wang, who has built relations over the years with many US business leaders, is said to have been tapped as a point man for US-China relations.

The Financial Times reported Monday that Liu is urging China to finalize the changes to financial sector investment by May.

Chinese authorities announced the move to remove constraints of foreign investments in the financial sector last November, coinciding with US President Donald Trump’s state visit to Beijing, but the prospect underwhelmed many in the industry.

“This looks good, but in reality it is pretty small and it is too late,” Keith Pogson, Senior Partner Financial Services Asia-Pacific at EY, told Reuters last November. “If you are an international investment bank, you will be there for the sake of your global franchise and having it as part of your network, not because you think you will make much money in China.”

But Fink expressed optimism in his interview with Caixin.

“We are excited about the opportunity to become really Chinese in China and helping the Chinese build towards their retirement,” he said. “So what we want to bring to China is the international information, market understanding, and our risk management tools … and in helping building a philosophy towards long-term investment,” he added.

“There’s not a culture of long-term investing in China. There’s a culture of home ownership and in most cases putting big pools of money in a bank account. I think that’s going to prove to be a mistake.”