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Westpac ups its push into the Asia market

Although Westpac (ASX: WBC) is considered to be the most domestic-focused bank out of any of the big four, the bank has set itself a goal to drastically increase the revenue generated from Asia and has set up an advisory board to aid it with its push into the region.

As reported by The Australian Financial Review, former Singapore government minister Lim Hwee Hua has been appointed as the inaugural non-executive director of the board. Two other non-executive directors, including Westpac’s institutional bank chief Rob Whitfield, as well as the bank’s general manager for Asia, Bala Swaminathan, will also be appointed to the board.

Mr. Whitfield said “The purpose of the Asia advisory board is to provide insights and leadership as we continue to strengthen our customer-led strategy in the region.”

Westpac rival ANZ (ASX: ANZ) has also stepped up its push into the Asia market. ANZ is the frontrunner of the banks looking for growth in the region and has set itself a target of generating between 25% and 30% of its revenue from the area by 2017.

The bank has formalized its strategic alliance with Swiss private bank Vontobel, which will allow it to offer its wealth Asia-Pacific region clients access to a wider range of products and services, including “world-class investment and asset-allocation solutions”.

Considering the restricted growth opportunities in Australia, NAB (ASX: NAB) has also recognised the potential in the Asian market whilst Commonwealth Bank (ASX: CBA) still relies heavily on the Australian mortgage market for their revenue.

Foolish takeaway

Whilst expanding into overseas markets always carries risks, it is pleasing to see the banks striving for growth outside of Australia and not relying so heavily on what the local economy has to offer. However, investors considering buying bank shares should think again as they have become heavily overpriced and stand little chance of delivering market-beating returns in the long-term.

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Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned.

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