Li Jianhong, Chairman of China Merchants Bank Photo:

According to research published in Security Times, when it comes to generosity to staff and shareholders, China Merchants Bank tops all other mainland competitors. The bank is reportedly China’s most generous bank employer with per capita salaries of 576,800 yuan (US$85,800) last year.

China Merchants Bank, which led Ping An Bank (528,000 yuan) in this category, offered more than double the salary per capita than other state-owned banks such as Agricultural Bank of China and the Postal Savings Bank.

Although run like a commercial venture, the bank is a unit of the China Merchants Group, which is controlled by the state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission. However it operates more like a private bank than any of its peers, which do not provide staff with many incentives.

The bank has become known over the last decade for its aggressive stance in the asset management business while providing corporate and personal banking services. It also runs corporate businesses across a broad range of financial and banking sectors. These include cash management, investment banking, pension financing and asset custody. In 2019, China Merchants Bank made the list of Forbes’ World’s Best Banks.

All banks including the top three, namely China Construction Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Bank of China, reported a salary expenditure of 622.85 billion (US$92.73 billion), up 7.6%.

But the gap between privately- and state-owned banks may be shrinking because state-owned banks have employed a radical approach to reducing their staff headcounts.

For example, Agricultural Bank of China laid off 13,600 staff last year, or about half of the total number of jobs shed by the top six mainland banks, according to the mainland press.

As the fourth-largest bank in China in 2017, China Merchants Bank had 487,307 staff. However it is yet to announce staff figures for 2018. It has been reducing staff numbers ever since its employee headcount broke half a million in 2015.

China Merchants Bank also topped the pack with the highest dividend payout per share, which was about 84% last year, compared with the 22% paid out by Jiangsu Jiangyin Rural Bank.

The top 17 banks in China paid out 357.75 billion yuan (US$53.35 billion) in dividends to shareholders with an average dividend payout ratio of 26%.

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