What does the Chinese super-rich have in common with the wealthy Americans and Europeans? Aside from great wealth, all of them are looking for a place to invest their money and make it work for them. And increasingly, that place is outside their home country. Whether it’s buying property in Los Angeles, London, or Sydney or investing in businesses around the world, wealthy Chinese are on the move.
Due to prolonged lockdowns and the slowdown of economic development in China, Chinese millionaires and wealthy entrepreneurs decide to emigrate. In 2022, China occupies second place in the world when it comes to high-net-worth individuals, with an infamous number of 10,000 individuals leaving the country. In this blog post, we will examine the reasons for Chinese immigrants and see how foreigners can attract Chinese emigrants to investments.
What is the scope of wealthy Chinese emigration outside of Mainland China?
The last two years were exceptionally turbulent for everyone, and the situation didn’t spare millionaires from all over the world either. According to the Henley Global Citizens Report, it’s projected that 88.000 millionaires (especially from developed and developing countries) will relocate to other countries, taking their capital with them. It’s estimated that they take with them $48 billion worth of assets.
The Chinese government is facing great problems, as China is taking second place, losing around 10.000 millionaires in 2022 alone. As we can see on the graph below, Russia takes the first place which is very understandable given the ongoing war. But why there is a growing number of wealthy Chinese migrants?
According to the international migration review, the international migration of wealthy people will only grow further. In 2018 there were 108.000 high-net-worth individuals migrating. With a slowdown in migration in 2020 and 2021 (12.000 and 25.000 respectively), the migration is speeding up, predicted to reach 125.000 high-net-worth individuals in 2023.
These are troubling numbers, especially for Russia and China. As China’s development is slowing down, with an additional kick caused by the zero-covid policy, the Chinese communist party now has a big problem to worry about, as the Chinese capital is fleeing the country, harming the Chinese economy even more.
Why is Chinese Wealthy Emigration a hot topic right now?
In the wake of China’s unprecedented economic miracle comes a nation more internationally engaged than ever before. This is facilitating greater levels of overseas investment from Mainland China with the rise of the upper and middle classes entailing a dramatic shift in attitudes, particularly when it comes to relocation abroad.
The remarkable outflow of people from China is one of the most striking trends of recent decades. Since the country started opening up in 1978, around 10 million Chinese have moved abroad, according to ‘Wang Huiyao’ of the Center for China and Globalization, a think tank in Beijing.
There are now around 630 million ‘middle class’ Chinese consumers and many of them are increasingly desiring, to invest in real estate outside of China. For the wealthiest section of society, the holy grail is the ‘green card’ or visa for permanent residency.
What is more, the outflow of Chinese Millionaires puts the Chinese government in the spotlight, challenging Party leaders and sending a message to the outside world, which is not making Xi Jinpings’ regime look good. Although the government is reassuring the whole world that the zero-covid policy is a great success for China, in fact, it’s one of the main reasons for the enlargement of the overseas Chinese diaspora.
Why is Wealthy Chinese re-locating abroad?
The reasons for so many Chinese entrepreneurs and wealthy Chinese nationals leave the country are complicated, but we can divide them into some key points;
Chinese citizens are fed up with Covid lockdowns
Many Chinese companies needed to be closed for months without any help from government agencies. The strict rules of the zero-covid policy pushed by the Chinese government leave a mark on many Chinese people, Chinese professionals, Chinese students, and rich Chinese people. Many of them have family members and foreign investments, and as China’s borders are being closed for almost three years now, harming the Chinese economy, many people decide to leave.
According to Bloomberg, relocation inquiries in Shanghai alone, the city that faced heavy lockdowns this year, grew three- to five-fold in spring, compared to a year earlier, and so did inquiries about moving money abroad.
Millionaires want to secure their money as the Chinese economy is facing problems
The government set a target of about 5.5% for the yearly growth, but economists predict that, mainly due to the ongoing lockdowns and zero-covid policy, the numbers most likely will go below 4%, the worst result in many years. Chinese millionaires want to secure their assets, but China is not the best place to invest right now, as the economy is very unstable, creating a lot of investment risk.
Wealthy Chinese want to secure their investments and Europe, Canada, America & Australia are thought to be the best countries to invest in for the preservation and multiplication of wealth. This is really the Chinese priority, to secure their finances. Remember in China there are not the same legal rights & securities for wealth and assets that they can find abroad.
Pessimistic approach to Xi’s prolonged reign
Last week saw Xi Jinping cementing his position as the party leader for the next years. According to Financial Times, many lawyers working with wealthy families in China and Hong Kong are getting more and more inquiries from rich Chinese that want to move their families and assets overseas, as Chinese politics seems unstable for them.
Many of those Chinese migrants chose Singapore and other countries in Southeast Asia as their next location, relocating their Chinese companies there. For the past two decades, many Chinese millionaires were choosing Hong Kong, but now, since Beijing is increasing control over the city, it’s no longer an option. In fact, Hong Kong saw 3000 wealthy Chinese moving overseas this year.
It is said that wealthy Chinese are not only worried about the upcoming official wealth tax that would replace informal ‘common prosperity’ donations. But they are also worried about their personal safety, as the country has recently seen many wealthy Chinese ‘disappear’ from the public, like Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba Group.
Higher costs of living in China’s Cities
Over the years, the major cities of Guangzhou, Shanghai, Nanjing, Beijing, and Shenzhen saw home prices rise by at least 20%. Some neighborhoods in Shanghai have risen by 40% in the last five years with the average 1,000-square-foot apartment in Shanghai going for $725,000, or around five million yuan. Being partly or fully based overseas is increasingly the cheaper option as domestic prices increase to millions of dollars for a substantial living space.
Seeking native English education
One of the main factors for the relocation of wealthy families for years now is the highly prized ‘native English education’ that so many families are seeking for their children. Studying abroad has become an ambition; 57% of Chinese parents would send their child overseas to study if the family had the means, according to the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. Student migration is very common in China, and there are many Chinese overseas students enrolled in universities in the US, Europe, and South Asia.
Residency schemes offering benefits in education are increasingly popular as individuals want to guarantee the best for their families in terms of academic opportunities and progress in a highly competitive modern Chinese society. Also, it’s very hard to get to the best universities in China, so many wealthy families decide to move overseas to obtain higher education. In fact, there are millions of highly educated immigrants from China living abroad.
The mass exodus of students is also driving demand for family re-location as they are studying abroad for long periods of time and looking for residency during and after their studies if they choose to settle. Many families move for the purpose of family reunification, enrolling in foreign investment instead of domestic ones. Of the 4m Chinese who have left to study abroad since 1978, half have not returned, according to the education ministry, however by most unofficial counts the share is even larger.
Chinese government makes it difficult to transfer money overseas
Emigration might seem like the perfect choice for wealthy Chinese, given the mentioned circumstances, but it’s not too easy, as the Chinese government wants to protect the country’s economic development, not letting Chinese millionaires transfer money overseas.
As you can see in the video, many Chinese find it difficult to move their assets overseas, as the government doesn’t want to lose their wealth.
How to attract Chinese investment? Intelligent & targeted lead generation is the solution.
The answer is online, well certainly initially. The online ecosystem is completely unique in China, this is mainly because it is separated from the rest of the web by the ‘Great Chinese Firewall’. This has essentially ‘ring-fenced’ the largest online population on the planet and produced an array of unique Chinese platforms catering specifically to the Chinese user.
The answer to attracting Chinese investment is to understand:
- Your target demographics’ online behavior
- Where and how they are searching for information
- How to utilize Chinese platforms to target them in the most effective way
Online is the answer in terms of lead generation, you need an effective strategy for ‘eyeball grabbing’ & initial communications before you can develop the relationship offline.
Here is a run-down of the key strategies for investor lead generation and conversion in China.
Creating a quality Chinese website optimized for Baidu SEO
Creating a quality ‘shop front’ for your investment services is integral. Building the foundations for a lead generation campaign must be done properly. Firstly the site should be hosted on a Chinese server and if possible have a .cn domain. This is important because the speed of load time directly affects your ranking on Chinese search engines.
Secondly the site & content needs to be designed and optimized for the Chinese internet & end user. Users typically expect live chat services as well as contact forms. Content cannot just be transplanted from your existing website. It needs to be adapted and tailored with the Chinese investor in mind.
Thirdly a static site that has more pages is preferable in China, primarily for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) purposes. When looking to rank highly on keywords in the organic, natural results (where the highest quality traffic is driven), it pays to feature a page on this topic of at least 500 words.
Consider how you are communicating your proposition to the Chinese investor, content is king. It is also key to spend time curating and mapping out the site plan so that Mandarin Chinese keywords can be optimized at the ‘back end’ of the site. This includes meta descriptions, titles, keyword tags, page references & cross-referencing. Internal linkage within a site creates keyword connections and highlights the core aims of your service.
Chinese SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
SEO when it comes to generating investor leads is highly competitive but lucrative. The most qualified leads are always generated through users searching for relevant information and finding your site in the natural search results. Search Engine Optimization is concerned with your long-term visibility. 75% of all online research is conducted via Baidu (China’s Google), this is the number one search engine to focus on.
The most serious professionals don’t just click on paid ads (although they are important) but browse the organic results, this is the most powerful way to build your reputation as a serious player in this field.
For SEO in this field, we would select 10-20 keywords to optimize, a minimum commitment of 4-6 months is required for this approach. Highly competitive terms such as ‘overseas investment’ will take a long time to rank but more specific terms such as ‘UK Visa’ or ‘Live in the UK’ are easier to rank on & generate more qualified prospects.
SEO is a long-term solution as it takes time to rank highly if you have no previous visibility in China. The strategy is to develop backlinks to your site from other highly ranked pages that in turn increase your ranking. Producing Chinese content is evidently instrumental in achieving this goal, as is forming online connections. Content, when featured, must be referenced and linked to your landing page. For SEO purposes local players (such as GMA) have established link-building strategies and schemes for clients.
Search Engine Marketing (PPC Ads)
PPC is very important when you first enter the Chinese market as you will have no natural ranking at first. You, therefore, need to invest in PPC ads, ‘Pay Per Click’ appears at the top of the results on Baidu and is marked as a paid link.
You again need to select the most effective keywords, with PPC as you pay for visibility you can ‘cast the net wider in terms of using broader search terms and even testing for the best SEO keywords.
The Role of WeChat – China’s Number One Communication Tool
Wechat is the most popular messaging and social media platform, with over 1.26 billion active monthly users as of 2022. As you can see, the chances that your audience is on WeChat at almost 100%. Wechat is a whole ecosystem of mini-apps and functions, that enable businesses to communicate with their consumers. But it’s important to understand that it’s more of a closed ecosystem, that won’t be good in terms of lead generation.
Therefore, the best strategy is to generate leads on Baidu (using SEO and paid ads) and other social media platforms (Weibo) or forums (Baidu Zhidao, Baidu Tieba, Zhihu) and bring leads to WeChat. When you manage to bring leads to your WeChat account, you can then start the conversation, by sending more images, floor plans, showing videos, etc.
Once connected to your WeChat you can nurture relationships with quality, tailored content posted directly to prospects and promoted via your ‘moments’ feed. A quality HTM5 WeChat Brochure (mini pages hosted within the APP itself) can be considered for presenting information, offering customer services, and pushing content to prospects.
One approach is to drive traffic/leads to your contact form page and then embed QR codes which when scanned instantly link the user to your WeChat customer services team. The Chinese will prefer WeChat as the first point of communication over a phone call so go to where your target demographic is most actively communicating.
Investment Forums & E-Reputation
Many popular forums such as Sohu, Tieba, Tianya & Zhihu have investment threads on the forums dedicated to investment overseas, qualified traffic will often search here and discuss. Creating positive conversations about your services here in relation to relevant topics from Chinese prospects is vital for building your e-reputation. Positive sentiment can be created artificially at first but over time customer testimonials and discussions on these platforms can be a powerful way of increasing both visibility & reputation.
Another reason for doing this is about increasing your visibility in the Baidu search results feed. You will often find relevant mentions of a company in forums that already have a strong ranking, particularly Baidu Tieba and Zhidao, both forums part of the Baidu group. In some cases, forum results will even appear above your official site.
Display News has a strong impact, with a 25% online penetration rate apps such as Ifang or Toutiao can generate mass interest, and you can target users based on keyword searches and relevant news topics to increase the likelihood of your target being qualified.
The process works by embedding an ‘advertorial’, or news ‘ad’ into the news feed itself, on the ad is a basic contact form where interested parties can leave details. Investors turn to these news sources for much of their information and developing this DSP (display) targeted approach can pay dividends.
The quality of the lead is not as high typically as Baidu organic traffic but it produces a very high number of prospects with a percentage typically ‘qualified leads’, in terms of ROI this strategy remains a sensible one.
Do you need a partner in China?
The Immigration investment market is a lucrative one and targeting this unique proposition to the right demographic will initially raise the profile of such investment schemes and both directly & indirectly increase Chinese investor participation through an intelligent, long-term strategy devised for results.
We are specialists in the Chinese market and we managed to help more than 600 brands from different industries over 10 years. We offer tailor-made solutions to overseas brands so that we assure success in the Chinese market.
We have had several experiences in the real estate industry, as well as many successful collaborations. However, all companies are different and require a specific approach. Please contact our expert for more information.