Threat, Risk and Wealth Management – Minutes from 23rd November 2021
A focus in China – co hosted with Goldman Sachs Asset Management
When thinking of China’s rising, many people see either a threat / risk or a huge wealth opportunity. In truth, it is a combination of both. However, there are fewer differences between Chinese millennials and the Western world than is often thought. There are many subgroups within China, the British born, Hong Honk born, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia – all of which have differing values.
China often sees itself as a victim in history, when the industrial revolution took over most of the west, China closed its doors and for this reason fell behind. There was still extreme poverty in the 1970s, which lead to a drive for change to happen at a rapid pace for the millennial generation. 300 million Chinese speak English, which has enabled a global view of the world that was not previously there.
In China, Chairman Mao’s reign, women have been seen as equal “Women uphold half the sky”. They have been offered the same education and opportunities as men – it was a communist and cultural revolution.
The effect of the one child policy on China has been enormous. Growing up, Chinese women are constantly compared to other children as they are the one focus of their parents. However, when in another country people often look to the Chinese as having a national advantage because of this – assuming that they must be exceptional at maths or exams. Success is the key measurement used to drive most Chinese nationals, sucess is then measured by your effectiveness in this world of change.
The vast rapid development of China has created a much faster moving job market, with those who do not gain promotion within 6 months feeling as though they are not achieving. However, it is proven that Asian women are the most overlooked when it comes to promotion within a firm, taking both the culture and gender factor into account, this is known as the “bamboo ceiling”.
If you wish to understand the relationship between the Chinese people and their government, it is closer aligned to that between UK people traditionally and the royal family, than that of the UK government. The government in China are seen as the head of the family, and whilst many millennials may criticise the government, they are fiercely defended by more traditional family members.
Another factor to be considered is the paradox between the GDP and GDP per capita, with 1.4 billion citizens, the experience of one to another is vastly different and this is not shown – meaning parts of the country and powerful but others are very much not. Only 9% of people in China have passports, compared to 90% of those in the UK.
The cultural difference that vastly effects careers of the Chinese in the western world is the view of “the loudest duck gets shots”. In China, speaking over one another is considered incredibly rude, so Chinese women are waiting for their queue to speak. Chinese women are told to “only speak when their answers are perfect”, throwing ideas and comments is not the natural way of conversing, thus meaning that they are seen as quiet, don’t have views, are unconfident or have poor communication skills – which are all very damaging perceptions and untrue.
China’s rapid expansion and growth has enabled Chinese millennials to become key team members for firms worldwide, and whilst China gears up to take it’s place on the world stage, it will have been this generation and its communist views that enabled that to happen.
If you think about the major themes that impact our future, it often comes down to technology and innovation, sustainability ESG and demographics like generational differences – all of which are linked to China. To get businesses on the right side of this disruption the western world needs to understand China and its fabric.