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If anyone doubts the intensity of the competition for the China banking business of multinationals, one need only look at the resum? of 31-year-old Karen Chan. With a bachelor’s in economics from Shanghai University and almost no experience beyond the borders of her native China, Chan is an unlikely candidate for the role of super banker to arguably the most promising and certainly the largest emerging market on the planet. Yet, over the past year, Chan has moved from Standard Chartered Bank to Bank of America and then back to Standard Chartered, and to increasingly more important jobs with each move. Today, as Standard Chartered’s branch manager in Shanghai and leader of a solutions delivery team, Chan heads up transactional sales for China for the U.K.-based bank. Why? Because Chan turns out to be a secret weapon of sorts when it comes to banking in China. “We were losing the China business of some of our best global customers,” says Bill Evans, BofA’s regional sales manager for North Asia. “When we pressed to find out why, we heard two words over and over: ‘Karen Chan.’” Such is the market for people who fathom the complexities of the Chinese banking system, speak fluent English and understand sophisticated treasury demands.

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