Congratulations to the winners of the Asian Private Banker Awards for Distinction 2015.
The Asian Private Banker Awards for Distinction is the industry standard for excellence in private banking in the region. The awards are open to all private banks and institutions with private banking facilities across Asia Pacific. Asian Private Banker understands and respects each institution’s need for confidentiality and, as such, all submissions for the Awards are treated with the utmost privacy. The decision of the Judging Panel is based on explicitly defined criteria outlined within.
Submissions Open | September 21, 2015
Submissions Close | November 27, 2015
Winner Announcements | January 7-12, 2016
Awards for Distinction Gala Dinner | February 16, 2016
All submissions for the Awards for Distinction should be addressed to:
APB Awards for Distinction 2015
1205 Dominion Centre
43-59 Queen’s Road East
Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Once again, Asian Private Banker would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the winners of the Awards for Distinction 2015 on a tough, but successful, year.
Poised in the face of fickle markets and unyielding regulators, every one of these exceptional institutions has proven committed to this aphorism, and in doing so, to their clients and their people.
By all accounts, 2015 was a year of two distinct halves – market momentum at the start of the year made the divergence for the remainder of the year that much harder to bear. But I am happy to report, that during my conversations with the leaders of these pre-eminent organisations, I found that they had all tempered their desire for profitability with prudence; focusing on reputation rather than ratios. Without an exception, these industry participants have proven that a reputation built on resilience may be worth a good deal more than one built on short term returns.
In my fifth year as Chairperson of the jury, I continue to be impressed by the intellectual prowess, the sincerity and perhaps most importantly, the strong code of ethics that guide these winners. Consistently, these individuals choose to live and work by a personal moral compass rather than the minimum regulatory requirement. Consequently, their standard operating procedures set the benchmark for industry best practices.
As laudable as the traits common to all our winners are, we at Asian Private Banker are equally devoted to continually catechising the framework by which we judge these awards. Our criteria need to withstand industry trends while still reflecting its raison d’etre. With due humility, I interpret the earnestness with which banks pitch for these awards, as testament to this fine balance that we continue to create and maintain.
This is pertinent because it embodies the all-encompassing pursuit of excellence that the Asian Private Banker Awards for Distinction celebrates.
Shruti Advani, Editor
Asian Private Banker
“The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavour to be what you desire to appear,” said Socrates – wise words of wisdom that the winners of Asian Private Banker’s Awards for Distinction 2014 have heeded. Rising to the challenge posed by fickle markets, ever-demanding clients, and unyielding regulators, every one of these exceptional private banks has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to their customers.In doing so, these pre-eminent industry participants have tempered the desire for profitability with prudence; have focussed on reputation rather than ratios; proving that to survive – and thrive – in our industry, resilience may be worth a good deal more than returns.
Whilst some have chosen to sit out the bidding war for talent that continues to afflict the industry in Asia, others are refusing to hire-and-promote. A handful are guided by a moral compass rather than the minimum regulatory requirement when framing human resources and diversity policies, and their standard operating procedures set the benchmark for industry best practices.
Deftly sidestepping the perils many of their peers have fallen prey to, these institutions, and the people at their helm, have worked hard towards mitigating inordinately high-cost pressures whilst keeping a humane perspective on rationalisation exercises. Some have ventured bravely into new geographies and markets, while others have reduced attrition and increased efficiency by fostering a culture of collaboration. All have shown exceptional leadership. Despite the continuing trend of consolidation, it is far more likely that these banks will have the wherewithal to acquire than be acquired themselves.
Indeed, each and every winner of these Awards for Distinction epitomises the best of our industry – integrity, loyalty, flexibility, and tremendous determination – and it is this all-encompassing pursuit of excellence that the Asian Private Banker Awards for Distinction celebrates.
Shruti Advani, Editor
Asian Private Banker
November 28, 2014 | Submission deadline
January 12, 2014 | Winners announced
February 2015 | Gala dinner held
To view the the 2014 Submission Guidelines, click here.For any questions regarding the Awards for Distinction, please contact:
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +852 2529 0777
Renato de Guzman,
In an industry where banks define excellence by the calibre of their people, the nominees for Private Banker of the Year are exceptional men and women – the best of the best – who have earned the respect of the peers, the trust of their clients, and the loyalty of those whom they seek to lead.
In our search for these outstanding representatives, Asian Private Banker contacted stakeholders across the market – private bankers, product providers, industry veterans, and clients. These interactions, which were both candid and comprehensive, yielded unequivocal admiration for Renato de Guzman, CEO, Bank of Singapore, from his colleagues, competitors, and clients.
“Bing” as he is known throughout the ranks at Bank of Singapore – an institution he was instrumental in founding – inspires almost unparalleled commendation across banking circles. An apt manifestation of the determination these awards recognise, he has steered his institution and his clients through two major financial crises, ensuring both have benefitted from the equanimity and constancy that are his hallmark.
Many accomplishments vie for recognition during the course of his multi-decade career, but establishing not one but two successful private banking platforms, first at ING Asia Private Bank and later at Bank of Singapore, is perhaps de Guzman’s magnum opus. Indeed, his reputation as one of the pioneers of private banking in Asia has helped Bank of Singapore to build a legion of loyal staff and clients almost exclusively by word-of-mouth in geographies as varied as the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Dubai.
An industry stalwart in the truest sense of the word, de Guzman is a vocal proponent of Singapore as a global private banking hub and has worked tirelessly with competitors and legislators alike to help real- ise the city-state’s potential to become one. But it is in his stewardship of Bank of Singapore – growing assets under management from US$22 billion at the time of its launch in January 2010 to US$51 billion as of September 2014 – that he has most distinguished himself.
A singular synthesis of tenacity, sagacity, and affability, Renato de Guzman is the deserving winner of the Private Banker of the Year award in 2014.
Despite the naysayers, Asia continues to be one of the world’s fastest-growing and most exciting wealth management markets. Naturally, it demands private banks’ rapt attention as some of the biggest and best banks in the world are locked in fierce battle for their share of Asian assets. While Asian clients continue to set the bar high, their bankers must fight hard to meet expectations of absolute return, service quality, and growth.
Whilst all banks in the region are endeavouring to deliver on these expectations by finding that magical balance between cost and income, a handful of them are also committed to spending considerable resources towards infusing value into every aspect of their client relationships. A few banks, in particular, are focussed on excellence – in their people, process, service offering and, ultimately, client experience – emerging as worthy contenders for the Best Private Bank – Asia award for 2014.
Amongst this august assemblage, UBS Wealth Management has distinguished itself on a number of fronts, emerging as the deserved winner of this award for the third time in five years.
Although assets under management (AUM) is neither the sole nor the most important criterion Asian Private Banker uses for adjudging the winner of this award, UBS’s US$1.9 trillion in private client assets, of which US$272 billion is in Asia, place it firmly in the highest echelons of private banking.
Equally significant is the stability of the bank’s senior management – a clear differentiator in a market where “CEO-cycles” rarely outlast market-cycles. Kathryn Shih, the bank’s Head of Asia Pacific, has been with UBS Wealth Management since 1987 and has been in the role since 2002.
There are many manifestations of the bank’s commitment to Asia – it has maintained a presence in the region since 1964 and two of its three global booking centres are in Asia: Hong Kong and Singapore. At the time of its submission for the award, UBS Wealth Management employed 1,189 client advisors in the region. Fittingly, its Asian wealth management franchise is an increasingly consequential contributor to the group’s net new money and profitability. Both are considered by Asian Private Banker to be important not just for the long-term wellbeing of the bank, but also for that of the industry and its clients.
As a perennial placement in the league tables of the leading private banks in the region by AUM, UBS Wealth Management, with its proven track-record, stalwart stable of senior management, sustainable business model, and platform that even competitors acknowledge as best-in-class, emerges as the deserved winner of the award for Best Private Bank – Asia in 2014.
UBS Wealth Management
So great is its potential for wealth creation that a turbulent sociopolitical environment did nothing to dim Hong Kong’s appeal for private banks in 2014. Indeed, a recent external study found Hong Kong has more individuals with at least US$10 million in net assets than any other city in the world. Consequently, Hong Kong is also a veritable battlefield for private banks and home to some of the finest talent and ideas in the private banking industry. To succeed in Hong Kong – arguably the crown jewel amongst wealth management markets in the region – a private bank must offer globally-accepted best practices, cutting-edge innovation in products and services, and a solid understanding of the specificities of conducting business in the Special Administrative Region.
One bank has demonstrated time and again that not only does it have this deep understanding of the wealth management business in Hong Kong, but that it has been able to translate that understanding into an enviable client base. UBS Wealth Management, the winner of the award for Best Private Bank – Hong Kong for the third consecutive year, has proved its pre-eminence across many criteria.
Outside of Switzerland, the private bank’s highest penetration rate is in Hong Kong. Asia is a consequential segment of the bank’s global wealth management franchise, not just based on its substantial contribution to global profit before tax but perhaps more pertinently because it was responsible for the lion’s share of global net new money in 2014. Hong Kong is without doubt the engine driving this impetus as the majority of UBS Wealth Management’s growth in client assets and profit before tax in Asia came from Hong Kong in 2014. At the time of the submission for the award, revenues from Hong Kong were up in the high teens as a percentage of the previous year and the bank employed over 1,000 wealth management staff with more than 400 client advisors; 100 of whom had been recruited in 2014 alone.Not resting on its laurels, considerable as they may be, the bank continues to promote its brand in Hong Kong – whether by actively mining new territories and subsections of the market where it may expand its footprint or by sponsoring marquee events in the city such as Art Basel.
This demonstrable dedication to, and dominance of, the wealth management industry in Hong Kong, confirms UBS Wealth Management as the deserved winner of the award for Best Private Bank – Hong Kong in 2014.
Bank of Singapore
Already one of the most fiercely-contested private banking markets in the world, Singapore continues to grow in stature as a key destination for private banks. With the commitment of the local government to building its status through the creation of a consultative regulatory environment and the highest concentration of high net worth individuals (HNWIs) per capita in Asia, the city-state is vying with Hong Kong for the title of private banking capital of Asia. The combination of an increasingly wealthy and growing local population of HNWIs and its status as a global booking centre means that Singapore attracts the biggest and the best players in the market.
One private bank has distinguished itself by its strong financials and credit rating, market-leading product shelf, high penetration of the regional HNWI population and unparalleled local insights. Bank of Singapore, the deserved winner of this award for the fourth consecutive year, has demonstrated beyond a doubt its dominance of the wealth management industry in Singapore across several parameters, including but not restricted to, assets under management (AUM).
Having judged its offering for four years, Asian Private Banker was convinced not only of the scale of the bank’s ambitions for its home market but also of the effective implementation of these strategies. From a total frontline staff strength of more than 200 in 2011, when the bank first won the award in this category, Bank of Singapore now has 304 relationship managers, in addition to its teams in other geographies such as London and Dubai.
Rated Aa1 with a stable outlook by Moody’s, the bank has leveraged its strong financial base to fortify its status as the private bank of choice for HNWIs in Singapore, with over US$51 billion in AUM at the time of the submission for the award. Whilst the number is important as an absolute indicator of the bank’s success, it is as vital, if not more so, as a predictor of its sustainability. With year-on-year asset growth outstripping year-on-year headcount growth by more than double – 14% versus 6%, respectively – the bank is able to demonstrate the longevity of its model.
This elusive combination of growth, profitability, in depth local expertise as well as a superior credit rating and enviable balance sheet strength, has made Bank of Singapore the clear winner in this category for the fourth consecutive year.
China presents an interesting conundrum for private banks in Asia. A seemingly infinite potential for economic growth and an ability to mint millionaires by the month is juxtaposed with regulatory uncertainty – making China a market that is both appealing and daunting. However, despite economic slowdown decreasing GDP growth to 7.3% this year, the nation’s high net worth individual (HNWI) population of 758,000 saw a collective increase in wealth of 21% to US$3.8 trillion, according to latest estimates.
Goldman Sachs, the deserved winner of this year’s award for Best Private Bank – China International, has proved it is more than prepared for the challenge. Over the year, the private wealth management arm has bolstered its assets through the creation of multiple sizeable mandate accounts in China. Cementing its claim as the preferred partner for Chinese millionaires, Goldman Sachs has a clear product and advisory strategy, seamless internal processes, and a fruitful partnership.
The virtues of portfolio construction and the focus on asset allocation strategies that can stand the test of time – what was previously the antithesis of private banking in China – has suddenly became very relevant. The bank emphasises that its goal is not to build portfolios with the aim of achieving aggressive returns and accumulating wealth. Instead, it aims to focus on offering traditional private banking services in wealth preservation; targeting average, but consistent, returns. Although the concept is relatively new to the Chinese HNWI segment, it was one that was well-received as Goldman Sachs witnessed the creation of several large mandates, including for hedge fund portfolios, throughout the year.
Products aside, the American private wealth manager is well aware of how competitive the field is for the acquisition of new clients. According to Nick Yim, Head of China Market for the private wealth management arm, many mainland Chinese clients, who make frequent visits to Hong Kong, are already fully serviced in terms of their private bank needs. However, these clients still possess a tremendous amount of wealth that has no offshore home. In its strategic partnership with Gao Hua Securities, Goldman Sachs has been able to make greater inroads into China’s wealth market, treating any location within three hours of its Beijing and Shanghai offices as serviceable areas. With regards to hiring, Goldman Sachs has recognised the thin pool on offer and has committed to looking for talent from sources like the media sector – focussing on the potency of not just banking experience, but also of network.
Goldman Sachs will undoubtedly be constantly looking over its shoulder as a raft of private banks continue to seek to assume its pre-eminent footing through the capture of market share and the establishment of reputation in Asia’s most attractive wealth management jurisdiction. But for now, Goldman Sachs has convinced its Chinese clients of the benefits of long-termism and asset allocation – a truly worthy feat in a capricious market. For these reasons, Goldman Sachs emerges triumphant as this year’s winner of Asian Private Banker’s award for Best Private Bank – China International.
Rivalled only by China in its pre-eminence in Asia ex-Japan, India continues to be a major onshore market for many private banks in the region. Home to 156,000 high net worth individuals (HNWIs) and US$612 billion of HNWI wealth, the country is poised to benefit from political stability and vibrant domestic demand. The economic reforms promised by the newly-incumbent Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, have created a surge in the domestic stock markets and many believe that these reforms will unlock India’s hitherto untapped economic potential. Despite this, a number of banks have wound down onshore Indian operations; several private banks have even opted to sit out the race for Indian assets entirely.
Against this backdrop, one bank has distinguished itself for its patent commitment to building a sustainable onshore platform in India. Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management (Deutsche AWM), the emphatic winner of this award, has underscored this commitment with an industry-leading platform.
The German lender has had a private banking presence in the country for more than 18 years and has built a formidable team with close to 100 professionals on board, including 20 relationship managers, four investment advisors, three credit specialists, and 11 account managers spread across eight different offices in the country. This enviable stable of experts has undeniably been pivotal in developing Deutsche AWM’s coverage of wealthy onshore Indians. Currently, Deutsche AWM provides its services to clients across 19 cities – with 25 of these clients hailing from the Forbes India’s 100 Richest People list. In tandem with Deutsche AWM’s ever-increasing client coverage, assets under management have grown 16% per annum for the last six years while revenue has swelled by 26% in 2014 alone.
The private bank’s capacity to offer an extensive product suite, lending opportunities, and onshore/offshore financing to Indian high net worth and ultra-high net worth individuals, coupled with its ability to remain profitable in a relatively nascent private banking industry, makes Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management the worthy winner of the Best Private Bank – India award in 2014.
In a region where the private banking industry is already well-established and wealth is mature, Australia is a crowded market filled with contenders. Against this competitive setting, Credit Suisse’s expertise has made it a leading provider of quality service to the country’s growing high net worth individual (HNWI) population of 400,000 and, this year, it has edged ahead of its competitors to be named Best Private Bank – Australia.
With a dedicated private banking presence since 2007 and offices in Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth, Credit Suisse dominates on account of its size and stability. The private bank’s prominence in the region is fortified by its dedicated team of 60, which is able to cover both key and fringe locations in Australia. Credit Suisse complements this geographical reach with an extensive range of product solutions and advice that it delivers through its private banking model, offering a broad and versatile range of asset classes within Australia and internationally to service the complex needs of its private banking clients. With Australian HNWIs’ propensity to reinvest cash reserves and allocate a large proportion of funds to listed equity, Credit Suisse offers a spectrum of services including management of active and passive pools of capital, access to global debt and equity markets, foreign exchange, philanthropic investment portfolios, and intergenerational wealth planning.
Making the most out of this broad and indispensable offering, the ultra-high net worth individual (UHNWI) segment has rewarded the Swiss major with its trust; the sheer number of UHNWIs that populate Credit Suisse’s books is, in itself, a key differentiator. Furthermore, under the “one bank” business model, Credit Suisse is able to leverage its turnkey investment banking franchise to provide seldom available, sophisticated solutions to its equally sophisticated UHNWI investors.
Credit Suisse is well positioned to maintain a leading place in Australia’s private banking industry, having seen its assets under management grow by double-digit figures in 2014 alone. Consequently, Asian Private Banker recognises Credit Suisse for the range of its products, its structured advisory process, and its commitment to forging long-lasting relationships with a highly personal touch.
Indonesia’s economy grew a healthy 5.1% and most market experts maintain optimism for 2015 as a collapse in global crude oil prices has helped lighten cumbersome fuel subsidies. However, there are still some difficulties facing the archipelagic nation’s wealthy. Sliding commodity prices of coal and palm oil, and a weakening rupiah, impaired the growth of Indonesia’s high net worth individual (HNWI) population of 40,500, testing the ability of the country’s private banks to deliver security and growth for their clients’ assets. Nonetheless, the US$230 billion private wealth market continues to be one of the most highly-coveted private banking regions in Asia.
Credit Suisse’s deep-rooted commitment to Indonesia maintains its momentum as assets under management grew at 14% CAGR over the last four years. Led by one of the industry leaders in Indonesian private banking, Johanes Oeni, Market Group Head Indonesia, Private Banking Asia Pacific, the business continues to leverage its integrated banking approach. In particular, the Swiss giant continues to generate cross-divisional success with its investment bank, creating value for Indonesian ultra-high net worth individuals and mid-sized business owners.
A testament to Credit Suisse’s dominance in the region is the impressive fact that the private bank services nearly all of Indonesia’s 50 wealthiest billionaires. Its success extends beyond business performance and clients alone. In an industry where explicitly complimenting a competitor in public is rare – Credit Suisse’s peers have done just that. In a conversation with this publication several months ago, another leading Indonesian private banker named Oeni and his team “a benchmark to measure against” when competing in the space, highlighting Oeni’s business, in collaborating with the investment bank, as “a noticeable edge”.
The road ahead promises even greater wealth growth from more diversified sources and sectors. The euphoria in Southeast Asia’s largest economy, following the election of Joko Widodo, has sparked hopes of greater economic prosperity driven by development in infrastructure, and health and education facilities. For the fourth consecutive year, Credit Suisse has proven it is best positioned to take advantage of this growth in wealth, as it wins Asian Private Banker’s award for Best Private Bank – Indonesia in 2014.
Whilst South Korea’s 3.4% GDP increase failed to meet forecasts and the KOSPI index was flat in 2014, the nation’s high net worth individual (HNWI) population and wealth both experienced stellar growth, reaching 176,500 and US$477 billion respectively, according to latest estimates. With a lack of direction in equity markets, uncertain fixed income markets, and a stagnant economy, private banks were ever more important in helping to grow and preserve the wealth of South Korea’s HNWIs.
For all the nation’s lacklustre headlines, Hana Bank’s private banking business continued its growth unimpeded, expanding its assets under management and client base by 10.5% and 9.3%, respectively. In fact, the 43-year old lender is South Korea’s leading recipient of HNWIs’ deposits and will look to significantly widen the gap following the completion of its merger with Korea Exchange Bank (KEB), which it acquired in 2012. Furthering its vision to operate as a single integrated financial group, the private bank also benefitted from significant referral business from Hana Bank’s securities and investment banking arm, especially from the owners of freshly-listed companies.
Recognising client appetite for high-yield products and hopes to capture returns in a flat market, Hana Bank found yet another metric to lead the industry. Its distribution of long-short strategies is nearly level with the next three banks combined and its sale of high-yield products also beats the local competition by a wide margin. Demonstrating a commitment to clients beyond sales, Hana Bank’s proprietary risk management system, Hana portfolio Early Analysis & Diagnosis (HEAD), offers clients an overview of their portfolio via desktop or tablet, while facilitating rebalancing exercises. HEAD, destined for a patent, also takes into account the varying levels of competency amongst Hana Bank’s relationship managers and adjusts its functions accordingly to minimise judgment risk.
Hana Bank is also a pioneer in wealth transferral advisory, having established early frontier footing in tax, real estate, and legal consulting within the financial services industry. This early mover advantage has benefitted the private bank as the business now offers a steady flow of new client relationships, while more than 80% of the users of wealth transferral services have grown their account sizes by an additional 30% to 40%.
Hana Bank is not resting on its laurels. It is harnessing important data to find other pockets within the financial group that the private bank is underutilising, such as overlooked retail branches with large accounts that could benefit from expanded private banking services. Technologically, the Korean lender continues to find new ways to digitally innovate its marketing and communications interface. For its constantly innovating business and its groundbreaking usage of cutting-edge technologies, Hana Bank has been awarded the Best Private Bank – South Korea in 2014.
Malaysia is an imperative market for any private bank with Southeast Asian ambitions. However, 2014 was a difficult year for the country’s economy. Whilst Malaysia’s GDP grew a resilient 5.6%, the figure represents the slowest climb since 2009 – due to a slowdown by its export partners as well as spiralling oil prices that saw more than 40% of crude oil’s value disappear during the year. Kuala Lumpur’s composite index mirrored the challenges experienced, losing more than 10% over the last 12 months. Not surprisingly, Malaysia’s 65,800 high net worth individuals (HNWIs) were affected as traditional portfolio management services fell woefully short of mitigating falling commodity prices and a depreciating currency.
Unaffected by these economic headwinds, Credit Suisse, the deserving winner of this year’s award for Best Private Bank – Malaysia, stands steadfast. Seemingly immune to local pressure, the Swiss private bank has continued to grow assets under management by 15% CAGR – a streak unbroken for the previous five years. A significant proportion of these assets belong to Malaysia’s tycoons. Backed by an investment bank that is a leader in equity brokerage and research, Credit Suisse, once again, leveraged an engine of cross-divisional revenue generation and client referrals. The investment bank participated in marquee deals, such as Affin Holdings’ US$410 million acquisition of various businesses of Hwang-DBS (Malaysia), and continued to retain its weight in helping to unlock wealth from businesses; in addition to connecting investors with investment opportunities.
For most of the industry, Malaysia’s private banking market remains hard to crack. Strict capital controls, narrow concentration of wealth, and a strong need for local equity capabilities have made Malaysian market coverage an auxiliary focus for most players. In the face of these hindrances, most players prefer to have only one or maybe a few relationship managers covering the geography. Credit Suisse is not like most players. In stark contrast, the Swiss major has one of the largest and most experienced dedicated offshore teams, which services the nation’s wealthy individuals with a well-established 19-year presence that dates back to its first local private banking rep office in 1995.
Leveraging its integrated banking platform, in a precarious domestic market, Credit Suisse has met its Malaysian clients’ needs in business and personal wealth, from onshore to offshore, making it the undisputed winner of Asian Private Banker’s award for Best Private Bank – Malaysia in 2014.
Taiwan’s domestic economy continues to register enviable growth, and yet looming presidential elections in 2016, amongst a plethora of other factors, makes diversification a resolute priority for Taiwanese high net worth individuals. One bank has been overwhelmingly successful at helping Taiwanese clients with diversification and other risk-mitigation strategies, bringing the full weight of its investment and corporate banking franchise to the endeavour. BNP Paribas Wealth Management, the deserved winner of the award for Best Private Bank – Taiwan International in 2014, has proved that to be a successful wealth manager in this market, a private bank must meet the needs of the instinctively entrepreneurial Taiwanese client.
Facilitating corporate acquisitions in Europe has thus become a critical differentiator for the bank’s franchise, especially as European assets continue to be attractively valued. Across sectors as diverse as German manufacturing, UK technology, or Italian hospitality, BNP Wealth Management has facilitated several deals involving private banking clients. With its impeccable pedigree, the French bank has also helped several Taiwanese clients strike deals with European powerhouses, resulting in numerous franchises and distribution arrangements – proving that true diversification is about more than just geographical boundaries.
BNP Paribas’ 4,000-strong real estate team, identifying, valuing, and managing real assets globally, has helped the wealth management division cater to Taiwanese clients with a penchant for real assets – and they accomplish this with an ease that few competitors can match. Building not just on its European prowess, but also utilising its experience in local markets, BNP Paribas has executed deals around the world, including in Taipei.
Acknowledging the pressing need for succession planning services and in direct contradiction to the strategies employed by many other players in the market, BNP Paribas Wealth Management continues to keep wealth planning, succession planning, and trust services in-house. Clients have appreciated the umbrella services approach. As a result of these and other endeavours, the bank’s offshore banking footprint for Taiwanese clients has grown by 40% in terms of headcount and by 30% in terms of revenue.
Demonstrating the ability to meet, as well as a deep and relevant understanding of, Taiwanese clients’ wealth management and entrepreneurial needs, BNP Paribas Wealth Management has proven itself as the worthy winner of the Best Private Bank – Taiwan International award for 2014.
UBS Wealth Management
For any private bank wishing to establish a credible Asian footprint, Taiwan continues to be a crucial onshore market for numerous reasons. An instinctively entrepreneurial populace and an economy growing between 3 to 5% annually, coupled with the resultant increase in both high net worth individual population and absolute wealth, have put Taiwan firmly at the top of the priority markets for many private banks.
Continued capital account liberalisation, resulting in many tangible benefits for the wealth management industry, as well as a regulatory commitment to widening the scope of products and services available to Taiwanese millionaires, has only piqued this interest. The availability of onshore products, such as leveraged and inverse ETFs, and the expedition of mutual funds approvals, which is expected to further fuel investor demand, are milestones for the country’s wealth management industry.
UBS Wealth Management is at the forefront of delivering on regulatory reforms to its clients via timely innovation, resulting in unique products. Far from merely enjoying the benefits of liberalised Taiwanese regulations, UBS Wealth Management is actively contributing to it. For instance, after seeing an increase in inquiries from clients to build a core portfolio around customised discretionary mandates, fulfilling liquidity needs in 2013, the Swiss bank lobbied and collaborated with the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) to find ways to meet this demand. Collaboration between UBS and the FSC eventually bore fruit and, by October, discretionary portfolio management on the non-special purpose monetary trust platform was a fully-fledged offering.
Its reputation as a pioneer extends beyond product innovations, and UBS Wealth Management is acknowledged as an industry leader in Taiwan by quantitative metrics as well. From a considerable base, assets under management (AUM) continue to grow at a very healthy pace. During the same time period, frontline staff increased by 14%, allowing increased productivity, as each relationship manager on the bank’s platform logged an increase of 18% to 20% in assets in 2014. Also telling of the Swiss bank’s authority, is the fact that 60% of AUM growth was derived from existing accounts – strong testimony to the private bank’s success in the one area that matters most: continued retention of client trust.
A true pioneer of onshore private banking in Taiwan, as well as one of the fastest-growing wealth managers in the region in 2014, UBS Wealth Management has proved itself as the clear winner of the award for Best Private Bank – Taiwan Domestic.
Thailand, once a veritable hot spot for any private bank with ambitions for Asia, has proved to be a challenging market over the last couple of years. In 2014, continuing political turmoil eroded both consumer confidence and crucial tourism revenue. It is perhaps testimony to the optimism they harbour for the region that, despite GDP growth of less than 1% in 2014, several private banks continue to build robust platforms in Thailand.
An obvious reason for this is the sheer quantum of wealth that continues to be generated – and that often resides – in the nation. Thailand’s high net worth individual (HNWI) population increased by almost 10% to 80,000, accounting for US$396 billion, according to latest estimates.
Amongst its competitors, Citi Private Bank, the winner of the Best Private Bank – Thailand award in 2014, has demonstrated its commitment to the country through several market cycles. Its presence in Thailand dates back to 1967, and now, its brand permeates across the nation of 67 million, offering services in consumer, corporate, investment, and private banking.
Unlike many of its peers, the most senior leaders at Citi Private Bank have first-hand experience of the Thai wealth management market. Indeed, Bassam Salem, CEO, Asia Pacific of Citi Private Bank, was responsible for setting up the Thai offices of another private bank he worked with and continues to be a well-known name in Bangkok banking circles.
Providing Thai clients access to a diversified range of investment options is one the bank’s best calling cards – whether it is a Thai client with an ASEAN connection in need of local equity capabilities or one with Chinese ties looking to purchase prime property in Hong Kong – Citi Private Bank can leverage its strength, as a group, to offer clients access to a best-in-class product shelf and structure a relevant solution. The platform encompasses a full range of products and services that addresses the needs of HNWIs, ranging from investments, banking and, lending services, to trust, custody, and advisory.
With more than 3,500 ultra-high net worth clients, including one-fifth of the region’s billionaires, Citi Private Bank has long achieved acclamation as one of the region’s leading private banks. Paired with its deep roots and penetration into the US$396 billion market, Citi Private Bank rose to the occasion to take home the award for Best Private Bank – Thailand.
Bank of Singapore
Competition amongst private banks to gain wallet share in the Philippines continues to escalate, spurred by the country’s formidable GDP growth rate of 6.2%, and the resulting consistent and exponential expansion of the nation’s high net worth individual (HNWI) population. In keeping with a strong regional bias for direct equity investing, the PSEi index has outperformed regional peers, climbing 21% in 2014. Regardless of the direction equity markets take in 2015, an estimated 37,000 HNWIs and counting are likely to keep private banks focussed on the Philippines for some time to come.
Amongst these banks, Bank of Singapore has led the pack on several fronts. Its team of 20 private bankers is one of the most experienced in the market. Coupled with real-time access to Asian financial hubs, Singapore and Hong Kong, where the bank has booking centres, a versatile product platform that encompasses global investment and wealth planning needs and, perhaps, most importantly, a stellar credit rating, the bank has proven itself to be a worthy winner of the award.
Although assets under management (AUM) is not the sole, nor the most important, criterion for judging the award, a base of several billion dollars, growing at a 4% CAGR over the last three years, helps establish the bank as a frontrunner amongst its peers. OCBC’s acquisition of Wing Hang Bank in 2014 will bolster the regional connectivity that Bank of Singapore’s clients clearly value, offering Filipino HNWIs the peace of mind that their needs will be attended by the various banking services (corporate, investment, and private) in geographies where the, now combined, institutions have a presence.
The bank’s network amongst Filipino HNWIs owes a lot to its CEO, Renato de Guzman, a much-respected member of the community. De Guzman’s pedigree also helps to explain Bank of Singapore’s commitment to the region. After the 33-year banking veteran established ING’s Philippines banking franchise in 1990, he oversaw its operations until 2000 before also building its Asia private banking business – which was acquired by OCBC in 2010. Thus, whilst many of his peers were focussed on the higher-profile markets of Hong Kong and Singapore or the attractions of China and India, de Guzman built a reputation for being a pioneer in the Philippines.
This unparalleled access to the Philippines’ wealthiest, coupled with an impressively growing AUM and a rock-solid balance sheet, makes Bank of Singapore the clear winner of the award for Best Private Bank – Philippines in 2014.
A wealth management market that is home to an estimated 570,000 high net worth individuals (HNWIs) – a figure which represents a year-on-year increase of 16% – and US$2.1 trillion in HNWI wealth, the Middle East is a crucial region for all ambitious private banks. As the region’s second generation business owners look to balance bequeathed assets with investment goals, all the while satiating a need for transition strategies, exceptional opportunities are being created for private banks.
With more than a century-long presence in the Middle East, Barclays has long met the needs of this market. Considering the Middle East as a priority market, the British lender has excelled at deepening its share of wallet in the region and has found considerable success with the region’s ultra-high net worth (UHNW) segment.
Understanding that locality is tantamount to providing superior service, Barclays’ regional office is headquartered in Dubai, though the bank’s operations extend to Abu Dhabi and Doha with booking centres in London, Geneva, and Monaco. At present, 40 private banking relationship managers service the region from the five countries and Cedric Lizin, the Head of Middle East and North Africa and Head of Business, Japan for Barclays Wealth & Investment Management, affirms that the private bank plans to increase headcount to forge deeper ties with its clients.
A key differentiating factor for the bank is its innovative offering, particularly the open architecture of its forex-related product suite. The Barx FX and Barx Comet proprietary technology platforms provide bankers and advisors with direct access to forex and structured products, allowing greater execution speeds and the opportunity to trade at smaller ticket sizes. As a result of introducing this solution, the time taken to execute highly complex transactions, such as a reverse convertible trade, is reduced to the click of a button.
As an adopter of innovation, Barclays employs behavioural finance as part of its investment philosophy. Testament to an instinctive understanding of what clients truly want, the “Financial Personality Assessment” tool combines the science of behavioural finance and psychology with modern portfolio management to create, not only accurate but, ever-evolving client profiles. The survey, which involves a detailed personality assessment of a client, is updated annually and at significant milestones – helping Barclays solidify client relationships through the identification of dynamic client needs.
This commitment to the region, coupled with a client list that boasts nine of the top ten in the Forbes World’s Richest Arabs 2014 list cements Barclays as the winner of this year’s Best Private Bank – Middle East award.
The model for private banking in Asia is evolving on an annual basis, with private banks struggling to identify their raison d’etre in the various local markets where they operate. Hence, the definition of a ‘pure play’ or ‘boutique’ bank is also evolving in the Asian context. Several characteristics are attributed to this particular model of private banking, including a singular focus on wealth management, a client-centric model, and a niche value proposition. All of these are accurate to varying degrees. For the purpose of this award, Asian Private Banker defines a bank as ‘pure play’ if its sole core business activity is wealth management.With a little imagination and daring, one bank has shown the industry the extent to which this definition may be stretched. Julius Baer, the deserved winner of this year’s award, is the largest pure play bank in the region based on both assets under management (AUM) and headcount. Indeed, it is the only pure play amongst Asia’s top ten private banks by AUM.
The bank has distinguished itself on many fronts – most notably for its entrepreneurial and innovative ethos, qualities that Asian clients not only identify with, but admire. A first-mover in the region’s industry consolidation with its acquisition of Merrill Lynch International Wealth Management, Julius Baer has thus become the forbearer for its kind, setting the benchmark for both the price and execution strategy for future deals. Julius Baer’s claim, that its client-centric culture would prevail both during and after the integration, was validated by the remarkable asset transfer rate of over 80% in both Hong Kong and Singapore. At the time of the submission for the award, over 20% of the group’s CHF285 billion (US$286 billion) in AUM was from its Asian franchise.
However, compromising stability for growth is not in the best interests of a bank or its clients. Proving that growth can, indeed, be sustainable, Julius Baer has demonstrated that it has a solid financial foundation with a Tier I capital ratio of 22.4% – higher than several of its peers in both the integrated and pure play spaces.
With an exciting and ambitious growth strategy, backed by enviable financial stability and a demonstrable dedication to, and backing from, its Asian clients, Julius Baer has proven itself to be the deserved winner of the award for Best Private Bank – Pure Play in 2014.
The ultimate testing ground for a bank’s commitment to excellence in service, ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) are knowledgeable, sophisticated investors at the forefront of technological development and understand more than most what constitutes best practice. Although each private bank in the region defines UHNWIs differently – ranging from clients with US$10 million or more in liquid assets to clients with US$100 million or more – all agree that these clients are the industry’s most coveted catch.
One bank has not just differentiated, but also distinguished itself for its singular focus on UHNWI clients. Goldman Sachs’ business targets only UHNWIs, defined by the firm as those with over US$100 million in net worth. Since servicing UHNWIs is in fact its entire business, every aspect of its platform is designed to fulfil the needs of this segment. As a result, the exceptionally high bar its UHNWI bankers have set for client confidentiality, customisation, and product innovation will surprise few – although it has impressed many.
In Asia, Goldman Sachs manages more than US$50 billion in client assets, according to Asian Private Banker’s estimates. While, this alone, is notable, assets under management are by no means the sole nor most crucial differentiator for the purpose of judging these awards and Asian Private Banker was impressed by depth of the firm’s relationship with its clientele – each private wealth advisor typically covers 15 to 20 active UHNWI clients. For this specific client segment, the firm controls an impressive share of wallet that Asian Private Banker was able to benchmark against the bank’s peers.
Moreover, the firm has demonstrated a dedication to diversifying both client portfolios and its own revenue streams – crucial for the survival of both. Fee-based assets have grown over 75% since 2010.
The source of wealth in Asia, especially in the UHNWI segment, lends itself naturally to investment banking services and, here again, Goldman Sachs has proven it is able to deliver a full spectrum of solutions to clients.
For all of these reasons, Goldman Sachs is the most deserving of the award for Best Private Bank – UHNWI Services in 2014.
UBS Wealth Management
A compelling confirmation of trust between a client and a bank, some consider discretionary portfolio management the Holy Grail of private banking. As a consequence, many private banks in the region are focussing considerable time and resources on developing discretionary platforms that, although in their infancy in terms of client adoption, are world-class in terms of technology and product innovation.Of these banks, UBS Wealth Management has distinguished itself on the basis of team size – not merely in absolute numbers but also in seniority and assets under management – both as an absolute number as well as a percentage of a large base of total assets.
450 UBS Investment Management specialists manage the bank’s discretionary assets globally, with a team of 70 specialists dedicated to Asia – a testimony to the bank’s intention to develop a comprehensive and best-in-class platform in the region. Indeed, some of the more novel features of the bank’s discretionary offering, client videos for example, were first developed in Asia and then replicated globally. Moreover, Asian clients can choose from 13 disparate investment mandates, or, clients who wish to invest US$10 million and above in discretionary mandates can opt for a customisable Special Mandate Portfolio. Aptly, senior management at the bank insists that customisation isn’t a value proposition in itself and that the pivot for all discretionary mandates should be, and is, a long-term investment strategy based on a considered and strategic asset allocation.
A crucial differentiator for the purpose of judging this award was the bank’s ability to prove neutrality in portfolio construction. Its decision to keep Asian mandates free from retrocessions and other hidden fees and its largely quantitative manager screening process, both go a long way in demonstrating this neutrality. Indeed, external managers account for over 50% of funds in its model “Classic” portfolio. Whilst this number is not particularly high compared with the proportion of external managers in portfolios at some of the boutique banks that also offer discretionary mandates, it is high when viewed in the larger context of the size of the bank’s asset management business.
All of these factors, coupled with its overarching commitment to client interests, make UBS Wealth Management the deserved winner of the award for Best Private Bank – Discretionary Portfolio Services in 2014.
Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management
Since Asian investors are avid seekers of alpha and naturally utilise more than traditional asset classes, alternative investments have taken on a far more important role. Private banks in the region are using alternative investments as, more than simply, a means to attract clients in a low interest rate environment but also to differentiate their own product offering. Leading private banks in the region offer global investment opportunities, the ability to customise these opportunities to suit the needs of high net worth individuals, and a platform that is capable of going beyond mere reporting and monitoring to ensuring that client interests are always protected.
Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management (Deutsche AWM) has distinguished itself across several criteria including the breadth of its alternatives platform, e.g., the number of asset classes on offer, and the extent of coverage of each asset class.
At nearly EUR96.4 billion (US$118.8 billion) of assets under management and 750 professionals, Deutsche AWM is one of the world’s largest managers of alternative investments and one of the few to provide packaged one-stop-shop services for clients in Asia. The bank’s impeccable pedigree – it has a 40-year history as an investment fiduciary and is acknowledged as a pioneer in the alternative investment space – gives clients in Asia who may not be as familiar with alternative assets great comfort. In particular, the bank’s domination of real estate – conceded even by competitors – has made it a natural choice for Asian clients with a penchant for real assets. As much as 38% of alternative assets are in real estate.
Acknowledging that liquidity is a crucial constraint for investors looking at hedge fund investments, the bank’s hedge fund products range from intra-day liquidity hedge fund ETFs to closed-end funds for those investors that are willing to give up liquidity in exchange for an improved return profile. The bank’s two best-in-class managed account platforms, dbAlternatives and dbSelect, offer clients one of the most comprehensive managed account solutions in the industry with over 300 managers across 12 core hedge fund strategies.
Deutsche AWM has been investing in private equity and private markets since 1991 and, at the time of the submission for the award, had a team of 30 professionals with an average tenure of over 13 years managing these investments. As a result, it has developed entrenched relationships across the industry and has over 450 private markets partnerships with 250 fund managers globally.
Thus, combining deep expertise, unparalleled access to certain asset classes, and innovative structures and return-profiles, Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management has proven itself to be the deserving winner of the award for Best Private Bank – Alternative Investments in 2014.
Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management
While diversity has not historically been at the forefront of Asian private banks’ priorities, it is growing in stature for many. A fair workplace, offering equal opportunities, is an important part of running any business, but in an industry built around service it becomes a fundamental necessity. The positive effects of supportive hiring and progression schemes, which promote inclusion in the office, are well-documented from a commercial perspective. It is for these and more principled reasons that private banks are further developing schemes to increase and support diversity for their employees.
Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management (Deutsche AWM), the deserving winner of this year’s award for Best Private Bank – Diversity Issues, has made a conscious, consistent, and tangible firm-wide commitment to supporting all of its employees irrespective of gender, race, or sexual orientation. In doing so, it has been guided not by the minimum required for compliance with the law but by an unfeigned respect for its employees as individuals rather than as cogs in a wheel.
Diversity initiatives at the bank are driven on a regional, rather than divisional, basis. Hence, Deutsche AWM is a beneficiary of all Deutsche Bank’s regional diversity programs. Within this framework, Kin-Mun Kwong, Head of Wealth Management Coverage, Southeast Asia, and business and country representative of the German lender’s APAC Diversity Council, drives the implementation of all diversity-supportive initiatives from the frontlines. Supporting the Diversity Council is a community of Employee Network Groups, which globally ensures all employees at Deutsche Bank can “[go] to work and be themselves”, secure in the knowledge that the bank’s most senior leaders will act as mentors and guides.
Furthermore, institutionalised support is available for employees in the form of several networks. dbWomen is responsible for the targeted recruitment and support of women employees at the bank; dbEnable focusses on the issues and opportunities faced by people who are directly or indirectly affected by a disability; dbPride ensures an inclusive work environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) employees and their allies at the bank; and dbFamily provides parents, caregivers, and parents-to-be with the reinforcement they need to strike a healthy work-life balance.
This comprehensive and deep-rooted commitment to promoting diversity in the workplace underscores the seriousness with which Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management treats the issue, and accordingly the private bank has distinguished itself as the winner of the award for Best Private Bank – Diversity Issues in 2014.
- NRI Services
- Trust & Advisory Services
- Family Office Services
- External Asset Managers’ Choice
- Philanthropic Services
Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management
An estimated 30 million non-resident Indians (NRIs) spread across the world control US$1.2 trillion in wealth, making it impossible for any private bank in Asia to disregard the lure of this increasingly moneyed diaspora. Notoriously price-sensitive, but sophisticated, investors, this client segment has a penchant for real assets, corporate acquisitions, and tactical products. To be a preferred partner to these clients, an impressive ambit of products is the bare minimum – private banks also need a widespread network within the community and a meticulous understanding of the specificities of doing business with them.
One bank has demonstrated that it possesses all of the above in addition to considerable onshore Indian banking capabilities. Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management (Deutsche AWM), the winner of the award for the Best Private Bank – NRI Services, for the third consecutive year, has proved worthy of the win for several reasons.
During a year in which the majority of its competitors spent a large amount of organisational time and resources grappling with staffing issues, including several en-masse team moves, Deutsche AWM retained most of its core team of 72 NRI bankers across London, Geneva, Zurich, Dubai, Singapore, and Hong Kong – as well as announcing significant new hires in Asia.
Despite 2014 being a landmark year for the NRI banking team in terms of the products it was able to deliver to clients, due to the window of opportunity created by Foreign Currency Non-Resident (Bank) funds, the bank expanded its product suite even further to include a number of structured finance, corporate banking, and securities deals. As a result, assets under management grew by 35% on an annual basis, at the time of submission for the award, and revenues grew by 40% over the same period.
The bank is also an acknowledged leader in another area of priority for global Indian clients – the acquisition of real estate assets – and has helped several NRI clients buy trophy real estate assets in Europe. Many of these deals involved large ticket sizes, and the bank was able to structure and finance these complex transactions with fluid efficiency.
However, perhaps the most significant differentiator for the NRI business has been the bank’s considerable clout onshore, allowing clients access to an anomaly of high interest rates and investment grade sovereign debt.
It is for these reasons that Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management has, once again, proven itself to be the deserved winner of the award for Best Private Bank – NRI Services; a third consecutive victory.
With an estimated US$41 trillion expected to be passed down from the current generation to the next, many high net worth and ultra-high net worth families are urgently seeking ways to strategise the transition. Trust services have an increasingly integral role to play and are becoming an important mark of distinction for private banks in Asia over the next decade.
Pictet, through its partnership with Rhone, outshines its competitors, providing wealth planning solutions with a best-in-class trust service offering in Asia. Rhone’s greatest attraction for clients is its independent ownership. Noting a discernible gap in the industry in Asia for a business that focusses on trusts autonomous from a private bank, Rhone offers financial and legal services independent of Pictet and any other external stakeholders. While clients are given full access to the range of private banking, asset management, custody, and family office services of Pictet, they can trust that the 75 professionals at Rhone have no conflict of interest, as there is no obligation to utilise that offering.
Rhone has a presence in the Bahamas, Singapore, Switzerland, Canada and in 2014, Rhone Trustees Hong Kong was established to offer clients the option of trusts under Hong Kong’s recently reformed trust laws. Rhone’s geographical reach and ambition in the region is underscored by the hire of Mark Jackman as the new Head of Business Development, Asia, based in Singapore earlier this year. Rhone’s extensive coverage in succession planning is complemented by the range of comprehensive services it is able to offer clients, including those of a complex and unusual nature within assets such as commercial and private real estate holdings, yachts, aircraft, and art. While competitors have been known to outsource these services to legal and tax professionals, Rhone takes pride in giving Asian families tailored solutions while opting to maintain a high degree of control over their assets.
A key differentiating factor for Rhone is not just its ability to advise clients from an independent standpoint, but also on the importance it places on systematically reviewing whether their trust structures meet their changing needs, through assessments and regular client visits. It is this consistent commitment, independence, and integrity that makes Rhone the worthy winner of the Best Private Bank – Trust & Advisory Services award, for the second year in a row.
Asia’s wealth is at a crucial stage of transition and, as such, the region’s wealthiest families are encountering increasingly problematic issues of both financial and non-financial nature. As a natural consequence, private banks face more pressure to keep up with families’ needs as trusted advisors and influential caretakers of vast fortunes, and the often delicate issue of wealth transfer. As this landscape evolves, the alliance between family offices and their service providers evolves apace, recasting what family office clients value in the service of a private bank on an almost annual basis. Whilst some family offices rank their providers by execution capability and pricing flexibility, those further along the wealth continuum value a more sophisticated approach.
Pictet has proven that, for family offices looking for a consociate capable of product-neutral, best-in-class investment advice, it is the private bank of choice. As a result, family office assets under management at the bank trump those at many of its larger peers. However, size of assets is neither the sole nor the most important criterion for the purpose of judging these awards, and Asian Private Banker was particularly impressed by the overarching commitment at the most senior levels of the bank to preserving family wealth and legacy across generations. Indeed, direct descendent and a Managing Partner, Nicolas Pictet, is in charge of the firm’s Asian subsidiaries and typifies the Pictet ethos of a “family-owned bank for business-owning families”.
Few private banks that can claim to have managed the fortunes of their own founding family for several generations, can boast the scale that Pictet can. It offers clients the advantages of both an organisational culture immersed in the dynamics of managing and preserving family wealth, as well as blue-chip products and services. The robustness of its investment advisory process, its ability to offer an “outsourced” chief investment officer function to family offices, coupled with its adeptness at encouraging a cross-pollination of ideas amongst the oldest family offices in the world, make it the worthy recipient of the accolade of Best Private Bank – Family Office Services in 2014.
The external asset manager (EAM) industry was in its infancy at the time Asian Private Banker conferred the first award for Best Private Bank – External Asset Managers’ Choice in 2010. Since then, the landscape for EAMs in Asia has changed dramatically – several sophisticated models have replaced the business’ ad hoc nature of the early years. As a result, this distinct client group’s demands of its private banking partners have also changed almost beyond recognition. Today, Asia’s EAMs value a cross-pollination of ideas above credit lines and seamless execution over lowest price. In spite of this evolution, the single most important criterion for this award remains irrefutably unchanged; aspirants must have a complete understanding of, and devotedness to, the EAM industry.
One bank has consistently proved its commitment to EAMs, developing a platform dedicated to a segment that few other private banks in Asia have, until recently, fully recognised. Not surprisingly then, Julius Baer has been voted by this very community as their private bank of choice for a third year.
In previous years, EAMs from Hong Kong and Singapore elected Julius Baer as their pre-eminent partner on the basis of its “quality of service, for EAMs and clients, all the way from the top to the bottom.” Indeed, as one of the only private banks to have its EAM business represented on its global board, Julius Baer continues to prove its abiding dedication to serving EAMs.
Whilst reiterating the value of this commitment, EAMs this year also acknowledged the bank’s “access to best-in-class ideas and technology,” as well as its ability to “cross-link managers, ideas, and money” across well-established markets like Switzerland, the UK, and Asia.
Further demonstrating its ability to engage with the community, an industry report, commissioned by the bank and published in 2014, has rapidly become the benchmark for the industry; clients and competitors alike reference the quantitative and qualitative findings of the exhaustive study when estimating the size of the industry in Asia.
Asian Private Banker has recognised these facts and weighed them with the feedback it has received from the region’s EAMs. Together, both provide undisputed evidence that Julius Baer is the most deserving winner of the award for Best Private Bank – External Asset Managers’ Choice in 2014.
UBS Wealth Management
An increasing number of Asian high net worth individuals (HNWIs) are ascribing far higher levels of importance to philanthropy, yet a vast majority are still seeking philanthropic guidance, creating a considerable opportunity for private banks in the region to expand their philanthropic service offerings.
Along with having a pressing demand for a comprehensive range of philanthropic solutions, clients are also expressing a desire to make a social impact. As the needs of clients continue to evolve, private banks in Asia are faced with the challenge of rolling out new social impact initiatives. Accordingly, private banks that are innovative and responsive are presenting efficient means, and donating sufficient resources, to supporting client causes.
For the second year running, UBS Wealth Management leads the way in working with clients to expand its philanthropic offering. With more than 30 dedicated experts globally in four regional offices, the Swiss private bank offers an integrated approach – combining in-house expertise with specialised philanthropy advisors and sustainable investment experts.
In 2013, the bank registered the UBS Optimus Foundation in Hong Kong, 15 years after it was first established in Switzerland. From its inception in Asia, the UBS Optimus Foundation has initiated 55 health, education, and protection projects, up from 42 projects in 2013. Since its launch last year, the foundation has raised more than CHF10 million (US$10.4 million) in donations in Hong Kong alone and has invested a total of more than CHF37 million (US$38.4 million), up from CHF20 million (US$20.7 million) in the previous year. The foundation also plans to widen its footprint in Asia with the launch of a Singapore branch in 2015.
UBS Wealth Management is also at the forefront of developing products that provide a measurable positive social and environmental impact through its commitment to impact investing – a nascent, yet increasingly popular, space in Asia – and sustainable investing. In November 2014, the bank launched a values-based investing desk in Asia. Headquartered in Hong Kong, this desk is dedicated to generating maximum returns and positive impact through a portfolio analysis service for its clientele.
UBS Wealth Management has differentiated itself with its unrivalled commitment to helping donors and clients realise their philanthropic ambitions. This, coupled with the ability to constantly adapt to the changing needs of philanthropists in the region, makes UBS Wealth Management the deserving winner of the award for Best Private Bank – Philanthropic Services in 2014.
A talent shortage is possibly the most conspicuous obstacle holding back Asian private banks’ rapid expansion in the region, and investing in education in home-grown staff is crucial to resolving the issue. The regional paucity of well-trained talent has led to an environment of high costs, higher attrition rates, and a culture of frequent staff turnover.
While there is no quick solution to this problem, one private bank, in particular, has spent the time, resources, and effort necessary in building an experienced and mature generation of wealth management leaders.
Credit Suisse has emerged as the private bank that has had the patience, responsibility, and expertise to build a truly world-class training and development programme. An onboarding system provides new hires with a comprehensive platform of classroom and web-based training, in addition to frontline training certified by the Singaporean Institute of Banking & Finance. As part of a global certification programme, over 500 relationship managers (RMs), assistant RMs, and other client-facing individuals across the region have received mandatory training from their very first day in the office. The figures speak for themselves as, this year, Credit Suisse counted 1,355 classroom courses attended by 19,779 participants across the bank, in 13,707 classroom-delivered training days.
In 2014, Credit Suisse raised the bar even higher, opening the Credit Suisse Wealth Institute in Singapore. The 9,000 square foot hub comprises of four main training rooms, a conference hall, a theatre, as well as a suite of meeting rooms. By September, the facility, which is used by both staff and clients, had hosted more than 3,000 participants at various training and development programmes since it opened in February.
Credit Suisse’s avowed intention is to attract the best talent, and the proposition it offers to any ambitious potential hire, in terms of personal development, mentoring, quality tutelage, and facilities places the bank far ahead of the pack. In the very best traditions of a private bank, investing time and skill into the long-term improvement of quality assets best describes the Swiss bank’s attitude towards staff development. It is for these reasons, and its expanding commitment to the process of training, such a crucial factor in the running of private banks in Asia, that Credit Suisse is the emphatic winner of Best Private Bank – Training & Development in 2014.
“Who dares, wins” is an axiom private banks took to heart in 2013, rising magnificently to the challenge posed by treacherous markets, fickle clients and unyielding regulators. Private banks in Asia were at the forefront of this charge, deftly sidestepping the crisis of confidence in emerging markets as well as ambiguity in the broader markets.Despite all odds, Asia continued to dominate the global private banking landscape, with Hong Kong and Singapore vying not just with each other but with the financial capitals of the world to be the pre-eminent wealth management destination for the world’s wealthy. As a result, not only is the region a priority market for any private bank worth its salt, it is a battlefield where the world’s biggest banks wage a fierce fight for brand recognition, client loyalty, assets under management, and, crucially, profitability.
The intensity of this battle has led to precariously high staffing costs and, at some private banks, a myopic focus on revenue generation rather than client interests. For others, it has been a time of intense soul-searching. The best private bankers and their banks have responded to these transformational and uncertain times with resilience, maturity, innovation, and restraint, in doing so, they have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to their clients. It is these individuals and banks that the Asian Private Banker Awards for Distinction celebrate.
These pre-eminent industry players have unfettered themselves from cyclical pressures by expanding both inorganically and into new geographies; they have demonstrated the importance of temperance by prioritising clients’ best interests over generating revenues; they have been guided by a moral compass rather than the minimum regulatory requirement when framing human resources and diversity policies; and their standard operating procedures set the benchmark for industry best practices.
Indeed, each and every winner of these Awards for Distinction epitomises the best of our industry – integrity, loyalty, flexibility and tremendous determination.
Shruti Advani, Editor
Asian Private Banker
November 29, 2013 | Submission deadline
January 6, 2014 | Winners announced
February 2014 | Gala dinner held
To view the the 2013 Submission Guidelines, click here.For any questions regarding the Awards for Distinction, please contact:
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +852 2529 0777
Ravi Raju, Deutsche Bank
The nominees for Private Banker of the Year are some of the finest practitioners of the art and craft of private banking. They are all, without exception, industry stalwarts recognised for the depth of their experience, the breadth of their industry expertise, and the loyalty they inspire in clients and colleagues alike. A handful of these exceptional men and women – the best of the best – have distinguished themselves on all three counts.
In our search for these outstanding representatives, Asian Private Banker reached out to stakeholders across the industry – private bankers, product providers, veteran bankers, and clients.Over the course of these conversations, Ravi Raju, Head of Asset and Wealth Management, Asia Pacific, Deutsche Bank, was repeatedly nominated by his peers as the private banker they most admired.
Well-regarded in banking circles for his profound understanding of product, it is Ravi’s stewardship of Deutsche Bank while it integrated its Asset and Wealth Management businesses that has earned him the esteem of Asia’s private banking industry. Charged with minimising any fallout from the amalgamation of the two businesses in Asia, Ravi has, true to form, exceeded expectations. Clients and employees alike have attested to the process in Asia being “virtually painless” and one that enables the bank to bring “tremendous might to the market”.
Inspiring employees dispersed over 15 different geographical locations in Asia to band together during a period of transformation is no mean feat. Providing compelling confirmation to 7,000 private banking clients is impressive. That as a result of the transformation, the bank is better positioned to deliver on their needs, is even more impressive. Remarkably, Ravi has been able to do both.
Understated and with a reputation for being unfailingly polite, Ravi has nonetheless demonstrated unflinching resolve, consistently prioritising the bank’s strategy over any personal agendas. When informed of his win, Ravi responded in characteristic style, “More importantly, what did the bank win?”
Thus marrying impeccable core banking skills, vision and the most vital, but far rarer, attribute – a fierce loyalty to the organisation – Ravi Raju is the deserving winner of the Private Banker of the Year Award 2013.
Minting millionaires faster than any other region in the world, Asia continues to be at the forefront of global wealth creation and hence a battleground for the biggest and the best banks competing fiercely for their share of assets. Asian clients have set the bar high and their bankers must fight hard to meet their expectations of absolute returns, service quality and growth. No longer in its infancy, the private banking industry in Asia today defines best practices for the world and Asian clients are the most coveted group of high net worth individuals on the planet.
While all banks in the region are focused on building credible product suites, a handful of them are also spending considerable resources trying to infuse every part of their client relationship with value. A few banks are focused on excellence – in their people, processes, service offering, and ultimately in their client experience. These exceptional banks were all in the running for the award for Best Private Bank – Asia.
As compelling as the Asian wealth management story is, it has forced some private banks in the region to invest quickly – and often impulsively – seeking to buy market share and thus prove dominance, while sacrificing profitability. Hence, assets under management (AUM) are an important consideration, but not the sole criterion Asian Private Banker uses for adjudging this award.
Though it has certainly cemented its place in the league tables of the leading private banks in the region by AUM, Credit Suisse has taken a far more considered approach to growth than many of its industry peers. Executing a strategic plan that it first discussed with Asian Private Banker more than two years ago, the bank has delivered on its growth target by optimising returns, increasing wallet-share and expanding into new geographies. These results are evident in the AUM the bank has garnered – more than CHF112 billion (US$124 billion) – as well as its success in making its Japanese expansion profitable.
More pertinently though, Credit Suisse has grown its asset base in Asia by 39% over the last two years while keeping its cost/income ratio below 70%. Benchmarking itself against the industry leader in terms of assets, Credit Suisse was able to demonstrate efficiency with impressive scores in terms of both assets per banker as well as net new money per banker in the year up to September 2013.
Asian Private Banker believes this focus on profitability is critical not just for the long-term wellbeing of the bank, but also for that of the industry and its clients. Hence, Credit Suisse is the deserved winner of the award for the Best Private Bank – Asia, 2013.
UBS Wealth Management
With the fastest-growing high net worth population in Asia Pacific, Hong Kong is the crown jewel amongst wealth management markets in the region. It is a veritable battlefield for private banks and, as a result, home to some of the finest talent and ideas in the private banking industry. Globally accepted best practices, cutting-edge innovation in product and services, and the most well-known banks in the world make it safe to say Hong Kong has it all.
The contenders for the Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – Hong Kong Award are the pre-eminent banks in our industry. All of them have demonstrated a lasting commitment to Asia, in particular Hong Kong, and each of them has a solid understanding of the specificities of doing business in the region.
UBS Wealth Management has demonstrated that not only does it have this deep understanding of the wealth management market in Hong Kong but that it has been able to leverage that understanding to create an enviable network. Hong Kong accounts for as much as 50% of the US$233 billion of the bank’s Asian AUM as well as 50% of its net new money inflow over the last year. Indeed, outside of Switzerland, the private bank’s highest penetration rate is in the Hong Kong market. The first Swiss bank to establish its Asian hub in Hong Kong in 1964, UBS has dedicated more than half its staff to its wealth management business with more than 750 frontline wealth management staff, 350 client advisors and 125 product specialists.
A commitment to Hong Kong at the most senior levels of the bank is apparent in Allen Lo, Chief Executive Officer of Wealth Management Hong Kong’s position as Chairman of the industry’s first Wealth Management Association.
Although the quantum and diversity of wealth in Hong Kong lends itself to large private banking set-ups, the costs of doing business in one of the world’s leading financial centres are correspondingly high. Despite this, UBS Wealth Management has been able to harness efficiencies so that its Hong Kong franchise is not only large but perhaps more importantly, profitable. Jean-Claude Humair, Regional Market Manager for Hong Kong says: “With the exception of Switzerland, Hong Kong is probably the most profitable piece of our wealth management franchise.”
Its proven dedication to, and dominance of, the wealth management market in Hong Kong makes UBS Wealth Management the deserved winner of this year’s Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – Hong Kong award.
Bank of Singapore
With its soaring ambitions to be the private banking capital of Asia, the demonstrable commitment of its sovereign government to nurture the industry as well as the highest concentration of high net worth individuals (HNWIs) relative to population in Asia, Singapore is a vital destination for private banks large and small. It is of particular value to private banks operating in the region, not just for its indigenous population of millionaires, but also as a booking centre for the world’s wealthy. Due to its inherent appeal as a private banking hub, Singapore is also one of the most fiercely contested wealth management markets in Asia.Against this backdrop, Asian Private Banker has identified one private bank which has leveraged its market-leading financials and credit ratings, as well as its local insight, to fortify its status as the private bank of choice for HNWIs in Singapore. The deserved winner of this year’s award, Bank of Singapore, has demonstrated unrivalled local know-how, placing it resolutely ahead of both global and regional peers.
Having adjudged their offering for three years, Asian Private Banker was convinced not only of the scale of the bank’s ambitions for its home market but also of the effective implementation of these strategies. From a total frontline staff strength of more than 200 in 2011 when the bank first won the award in this category, Bank of Singapore now has 260 relationship managers in Asia alone, in addition to its teams in other geographies such as London and Dubai. Moreover, it has almost doubled assets over the same period with strong net new money inflows.
While growth is an important indicator of success, it is meaningless unless it is sustainable. Bank of Singapore was able to authenticate its right to this award by providing data from The Boston Consulting Group Wealth-Manager Performance Database 2013, verifying that it has the highest growth in net new assets among the profitable banks in the region.
This rare combination of growth as well as profitability, deep local expertise along with its superior credit rating and enviable balance sheet strength, has made Bank of Singapore the clear winner in this category for three consecutive years.
Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management
Though many banks would like to be associated with the idiom “nothing succeeds like success”, Deutsche Asset and Wealth Management (DeAWM) has truly taken it to heart. The bank has emerged as the deserved winner of the Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – China award for the third consecutive year.
Deutsche Bank’s onshore presence is a clear differentiating factor for winning the award. Indeed, the bank’s 142-year history in the country has helped it develop a clear understanding of local clients’ needs. Since it began offering private banking services on the Mainland in 2006, it has assiduously built its infrastructure at an impressive rate. Currently the private bank has branch offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Tianjin and Qingdao, serviced by a team of 65 relationship managers.
Continuing a trend of high revenue growth, DeAWM has increased its revenue in China by 37% this last year and 142% over the last five years. Though DeAWM has doubled its number of ultra-high net worth (UHNW) clients since 2012, Asian Private Banker attributes its financial growth not to a simple client acquisition by numbers strategy, but to increased revenues from existing clients.
The bank made encouraging clients to diversify their portfolios – a challenge for many private banks – a focus in 2013. DeAWM’s success on this front is testament to Chinese UHNW clients’ trust in the bank as a key partner and their recognition of the considerable expertise DeAWM has demonstrated in understanding their needs.
One of the factors that helped DeAWM accomplish this feat is the bank’s outstanding range of products, from discretionary portfolio management to aircraft financing. In particular, Asian Private Banker was impressed by the range of integrated products and number of corporate finance transactions completed by the bank in 2013.
Its history in China, its deep understanding of clients’ needs, and its proven ability to achieve its goals clearly justify DeAWM as the winner of the Best Private Bank – China award for the third year running.
Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management
As the lure of India’s high net worth segment intensifies, those private banks that maintain a dedicated onshore presence hold an enviable advantage over their peers. And the prize for topping the rankings is considerable. Despite concerns regarding slowing economic growth and ballooning debt, the total net worth of India’s billionaires is more than double its fiscal deficit and the market continues to be woefully under-banked.
Of the banks that dominate in India, few have moved beyond brokerage services to offer a full spectrum of services. Of the ones that have, Asian Private Banker deems one bank worthy of the Best Private Bank – India award. Deutsche Asset and Wealth Management (DeAWM) has had a private banking presence in the country for more than 17 years and can substantiate its claim to be the private bank of choice for the nation’s wealthy in multiple ways.
The bank has demonstrable on-ground expertise with 97 banking professionals including 20 relationship managers, six investment advisors and ten account managers in offices across eight Indian cities. The investment into building onshore capabilities has reaped rich dividends for DeAWM – it serves 19 out of the Forbes Top 100 list of richest Indians and AUM for the private banking business have grown by 19% per annum over the last five years.
This consistent AUM growth is particularly impressive coming, as it does, against a backdrop of slowing economic growth that has resulted in a number of private banks either having to run loss-making onshore wealth management businesses or exit the country altogether.
Thus, its demonstrable long-term commitment to onshore wealth management in India, its ability to offer Indian high net worth individuals and ultra-high net worth individuals an innovative product suite, and its ability to remain profitable while continuing to grow its footprint, make Deutsche Asset and Wealth Management the deserved winner of the Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – India award.
NAB Private Wealth
In a market where wealth is mature and the private banking space is fiercely contested, NAB Private Wealth continues to dominate due to its size, experience, and stability, making it the clear winner of the Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – Australia award for 2013. As Australia’s high net worth (HNW) population grew to 207,000 in 2013, and its HNW wealth grew to US$625 billion, NAB enjoyed a 10% year-on-year increase in assets under management to US$20.2 billion. Driving this inflow has been the geographical reach of the private bank’s dedicated team, able to cover both key and fringe locations throughout Australia. The private bank complements this widespread presence with a comprehensive range of product solutions and specialist expertise, encompassing investment transactions, wealth and protection advice, estate planning, and insurance solutions, all based on an open architecture platform – a feature only a handful of Australia’s domestic private banks have. Furthermore, that the overarching National Australia Bank holds a AA- credit rating from Standard & Poor’s, is a point of particular comfort for NAB Private Wealth’s clients.
Not willing to rest on its laurels, NAB Private Wealth is working towards increasing synergy between itself and the overall NAB business. For example, a corporate client from an engineering design firm, not only needed corporate financing services but also help recruiting executives and highly skilled engineers – an area that few would immediately relate to banking. NAB Private Wealth leveraged from its migrant banking capabilities to help source nearly 300 employees. In addition to winning business for the corporate bank and gaining the trust of the business’ principal, NAB Private Wealth opened new HNW accounts for the sourced employees and registered US$120 million worth of in-house superannuation funds. Where other banks may have overlooked business opportunities, NAB Private Wealth demonstrated forward-thinking and innovation to meet the needs of its clients and generate business for the bank.
Consequently, Asian Private Banker recognises NAB Private Wealth for the depth and range of its products, its high-touch relationship management and its ability to go the extra mile in Australia’s competitive private banking industry. For the second year in a row, Asian Private Banker names NAB Private Wealth the Best Private Bank – Australia.
One of the more mature wealth management markets in Southeast Asia, Indonesia nonetheless has tremendous growth potential, enjoying a 17% increase in its high net worth population and a 19% increase in that segment’s wealth this year. Indeed, industry predictions say the nation’s HNW population will reach 104,000 with US$518 billion in wealth by 2015. Moreover, a rapidly expanding consumption class, propelled by GDP growth of 5.7% this year, will certainly be a boon for Indonesia’s nascent, domestic financial services industry, with one recent report suggesting financial services spending could reach US$565 billion by 2030. And with a demonstrated national commitment to attracting foreign investments, primarily through wide-scale infrastructural upgrades, the country is well-poised to live up to its wealth management potential.Able to leverage on its rich history and deep roots in the archipelagic state, Credit Suisse stands ready to make the most of Indonesia’s growing fortunes. Indonesia is ingrained in Credit Suisse’s DNA as an integrated ‘one bank’ offering, combining its private banking and investment banking services in the market. Its global and regional senior managers have a unique understanding of the market thus making it the deserved winner Asian Private Banker’s award for Best Private Bank – Indonesia for the third consecutive year.
Further demonstrating its commitment to the region, Credit Suisse has deployed as much as 10% of its frontline banking staff in Asia to cover the Indonesian market. The investment has paid off and the bank has steadily increased AUM by 10% every year from 2010 to 2013 with heavy penetration into the billionaire population.
Credit Suisse’s ability to provide onshore investment banking services in Indonesia was also a differentiator because it has allowed the bank to transcend simple portfolio management and provide sophisticated structuring and lending solutions to clients, including equity and debt financing and mergers and acquisitions. The upcoming elections this year are expected to spur investments and thus deal-flow, and it is likely the private bank will benefit from Credit Suisse’s ability to advise on these deals.
Combining an enviable network amongst the region’s wealthy and a superior ability to service their needs, Credit Suisse has emerged as the clear winner of the award for Best Private Bank – Indonesia.
South Korea’s global prominence in electronics manufacturing, shipbuilding, and automobiles, to name a few industries, has helped the peninsula nation exceed GDP growth estimates in the third quarter of 2013, recording a 3.3% year-on-year increase. Its high net worth (HNW) population climbed to 160,000 with total wealth of US$426 billion, according to industry estimates. These figures are projected to rise, with South Korea’s HNW population estimated to reach 302,000, while total HNW wealth could climb to US$1.12 trillion by 2015. Local banks with deep market penetration stand to gain the most from this opportunity, with one private bank distinguishing itself from its peers in 2013.Closely mirroring the country’s success, Hana Bank is the deserved winner of the Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – South Korea award. Its penetration of the South Korean wealth management market has increased impressively, both in terms of AUM and number of millionaires banked – AUMs rose by 8% to KRW16.6 trillion (US$15.8 billion) and the number of HNW clients rose to 5,054.
Hana Bank reaped the benefit of seamless coordination between the private bank and the rest of Hana Financial Group, including the asset management, brokerage, and corporate and investment banking segments. As evidence of its global ambitions, Hana Bank expanded its footprint through newly-launched branches and strategic alliances in 2013 in China, Hong Kong, Indonesia and the US.
But Hana Bank’s edge in servicing its clientele extends far beyond its geographical reach. Cognisant of an aging nation, where the number of citizens aged 65 and above passed six million for the first time in 2013, 60% of Hana Bank’s private bankers acquired Registered Financial Gerontologist (RFG) certificates, equipping the bank with the intellectual firepower to better tailor its services and advice to its clients’ specific needs. The bank intends all client-facing staff to be certified soon. Advisory services for succession planning saw phenomenal success with the number of consultations more than doubling year-on-year.
Undoubtedly Hana Bank deserves the success it enjoys, given its commitment to enhancing capabilities, expanding its geographic reach and improving the level of service it offers to its clients. On the strength of these reasons, Hana Bank may lay claim to the title of Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – South Korea for 2013.
CIMB Private Banking
Onshore opportunity abounds in Malaysia. With consistently strong GDP growth over the best part of four decades and asset appreciation in real estate and equity, Malaysia is poised for a wealth explosion that could see its HNW population of 38,000 individuals increase by as much as 76% over the next five years. This year, CIMB Private Banking has demonstrated that it stands ready to tap this potential, rightly earning itself the title of Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – Malaysia for 2013.CIMB Private Banking has enjoyed uninterrupted revenue growth since 2009, resulting in a compound annual growth of over 32%. Not willing to rest on its laurels, CIMB Private Banking has also demonstrated a commitment to securing revenue visibility over the longer term. It has significantly bolstered businesses that provide long-term income such as lending income – which accounted for more than 20% of revenue compared to 13% last year – and annuity income, which rose from 7% to 12%.
Six years ago, CIMB Private Banking took on the task of persuading an equity centric domestic market to move assets into fixed-income, with a view to increasing diversification and lowering volatility. Despite clients’ initial tentativeness, CIMB Private Banking’s concerted effort has seen its clients enjoy balanced and consistent returns with lower volatility, while the bank has enjoyed a MYR1.7 million (US$524,000) year-on-year increase in average AUM per client, to MYR5.7 million (US$1.7 million), in the process building the bank’s total AUM to MYR16.9 billion (US$5.2 billion) as of October 2013. Asian Private Banker recognises these factors as evidence that the Malaysian stalwart has succeeded in its objective.
CIMB Private Banking also rolled out products for its high net worth Muslim investors through CIMB Islamic. The private bank’s Islamic offering, which ranges from Islamic dual-currency investments to Islamic share margin financing, gained significant traction. The bank intends to be the first in Malaysia to develop a fully Shariah-compliant private banking account.
For its proven and demonstrated ability to understand and meet the needs of all of its Malaysian clients, and for providing relevant products and best-in-class investment advice whilst increasing its own profitability, CIMB Private Banking is the clear and deserving winner of Asian Private Banker’s award for Best Private Bank – Malaysia.
UBS Wealth Management
The entrepreneurial spirit which has fuelled Taiwan’s economic ascension is well and truly alive. Due in large part to the continued strength of the semiconductor industry, the fast-growing Taiwanese economy has created a sizeable pool of high net worth (HNW) individuals, estimated at 95,000 as of the end of 2013.Well-positioned to take advantage of the resultant demand for corporate and private banking, is UBS Wealth Management. In size alone, UBS Wealth Management’s Taiwan business eclipses many of its competitors. What’s more, its assets under management have seen an annual compounded growth rate of 25% since 2006. It currently manages US$11 billion.
In addition to its size, a significant driver of UBS’ success in the region is its ratio of relationship managers per client. Currently UBS Wealth Management has 130 private bankers across branches in Taipei, Kaohsiung and Taichung, servicing 20-25 clients each, a ratio that many would aspire to. The experience and aptitude of the frontline, many of whom are well-versed in investment banking, have been key to UBS Wealth Management’s success in Taiwan.
Although an experienced frontline is crucial, discretionary portfolio management is the ultimate confirmation of trust between a bank and a client. The fact that UBS’ advisory arm accounted for a third of the Taiwan business’ revenue in 2013 speaks volumes for the bank’s success as HNW clients responded to the quality of advice and demonstrably superior performance of the bank by investing assets in discretionary mandates and other managed products.
Its impressive scale, diverse revenue streams and enviable client-to-banker ratio clearly justify UBS Wealth Management’s market-leading status. Recognising all of the above, Asian Private Banker deems UBS Wealth Management the winner of the Best Private Bank – Taiwan award for 2013.
Siam Commercial Bank
Thailand spells opportunity for the private banking industry, with its high net worth population and wealth set to reach 136,000 persons and US$647 billion respectively by 2015. Indeed, the numbers rose by 13% and 19% in 2013 despite an economic slowdown due to falling export demand and the impact political unrest has had on tourism and domestic consumption. In 2013, the Thai baht also hit a three-year low.Despite these adversities, one private bank was able to demonstrate consistent growth as it captured a greater share of the HNW market. As part of Thailand’s oldest local bank, Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) Private Banking’s dedication to serving the needs of Thailand’s wealthy has made it the deserved winner of the Best Private Bank – Thailand award for 2013.
Today, this century-old financial institution continues to build its infrastructure and expand its footprint domestically, drawing upon the benefits of the integrated banking model by leveraging capabilities native to its constituent parts – SCB Asset Management, SCB Financial Market Division, SCB Economic Intelligence Centre, and its corporate and investment banking services. Its success is evidenced by the fact that SCB Private Banking doubled its AUM in 2013 to US$18.3 billion, more than 6% of Thailand’s US$298 billion in HNW wealth.
Led by Head of Private Banking, Lalitphat Toranavikrai, SCB Private Banking has struck upon a winning formula, winning a greater share of Thailand’s wealth market through many economic cycles, thus emerging as the clear winner of Asian Private Banker’s award for Best Private Bank – Thailand for the second consecutive year.
The Philippine economy demonstrated its resilience in 2013 as it withstood the impact of both natural disasters and political unrest. Despite global upheavals, 2013 was the Philippines’ eleventh consecutive year of positive growth. And even though high net worth (HNW) wealth decreased according to industry estimates, the Philippines’ undeniable growth rate makes it a coveted market for private banks in Asia.Credit Suisse has emerged as the strongest bank in this market, registering a 30% increase in private banking assets under management from 2011 to 2013. The private bank continues to penetrate the wallets of the Philippines’ HNW clients with a strong focus on the local billionaires – the ultra-high net worth (UHNW) segment makes up 50% of Credit Suisse’s AUM in the country.
To better service this segment, Credit Suisse has hired relationship managers that boast an average of ten years’ experience and the relevant skill sets to leverage the capabilities of the investment bank. This foresight paid dividends in 2013 as Credit Suisse increased revenue generated from cross-divisional solutions between the private bank and the investment bank by 125% across its Asia Pacific private banking business as a whole.
Its focus on its UHNW clientele has confirmed Credit Suisse as the billionaire’s choice in the Philippines and it is able to provide a diverse product range from family office services to ship and aircraft financing solutions. However, the bank not only has a share of its clients’ wallet, it also has their trust. Clients have responded to the high level of service they enjoy by investing in discretionary mandates and other managed products – fees from managed assets accounted for a high proportion of the private bank’s revenue in 2013.
Credit Suisse’s targeting of the UNHW segment, the strong cross-divisional links it has created and its deep understanding of its client base ensured its dominance of the nation’s wealth management market in 2013. Asian Private Banker is in no doubt that Credit Suisse is the deserved winner of the Best Private Bank – Philippines award.
Pictet & Cie
The definition of a boutique bank is a topic of much debate in our industry – whilst some believe a bank is boutique depending on the size of its AUM, others use a bank’s business model or headcount as a benchmark. For the purpose of this award, Asian Private Banker defines boutique banks as those whose sole core business activity is wealth management.Since it specialises in only one business – managing its clients’ money – Pictet & Cie certainly qualifies as a boutique private bank. More importantly, because it has demonstrated an unwavering allegiance to clients since its inception in 1805, the bank is the deserved winner of the award for the second consecutive year.
At a time when sceptics have questioned the relevance of a boutique bank, Pictet & Cie has surpassed its integrated peers in global private banking AUM league tables, garnering close to US$325 billion in assets according to industry estimates. Although this is no mean feat, and certainly a source of pride for the bank’s partners, its senior leaders choose instead to highlight the bank’s independence as its greatest virtue. “Independence lies at the heart of our business and our ability to manage our clients’ assets without distraction,” explains Jacques de Saussure, a Switzerland-based Senior Partner at the bank. Not listed on any exchange, the bank is privately-owned by eight partners whose stewardship of the business is cemented by their seat on the Board, resulting in a clear alignment of interests between the bank’s shareholders and its management. As Claude Haberer, CEO Asia Pacific says, “Pictet has, structurally, no other agenda than what is in its clients’ interest”.
Whilst Pictet Asset Management is a product provider to the private bank, only a minority of the total funds offered by the asset management company are on the private bank’s platform. Likewise, 80% of the funds in the private bank’s model portfolio are non-Pictet funds, a reliable measure of its independence.
However, compromising stability to maintain independence is not a sustainable choice for any organisation. Pictet & Cie is the only bank of its size rated AA- by Fitch Ratings with a stable outlook and it also has a high Tier I ratio (17.3% at the end of 2012), indicators of its stability as a financial institution. These facts, coupled with a unique culture that re-enforces, even enhances, its dedication to its clients, make Pictet & Cie the deserved winner of the Best Boutique Private Bank award.
UBS Wealth Management
Although each private bank in the region defines ultra-high net worth (UHNW) individuals differently – ranging from clients with US$10 million or more in liquid assets to clients with US$100 million or more – all agree that these clients are the industry’s most coveted catch. The ultimate testing ground for a bank’s commitment to excellence in service, these discerning individuals are savvy investors, early adopters of technology and tend to be at the cutting edge of information and best practices. To secure and maintain the trust and confidence of an UHNW client is the ultimate validation of the quality of a bank’s service.One bank has distinguished itself, not just by the exceptionally high bar its UHNW bankers have set for client confidentiality, customisation and the pace of innovation, but by the remarkable growth in its share of Asian UHNW assets. UBS Wealth Management, the deserved winner of this year’s award, boasts 75% coverage of the billionaire population in Asia Pacific at a group level and CHF134 billion (US$149 billion) in invested assets from UHNW clients in the region.
That it has consistently been ranked as one of the largest global managers of UHNW wealth validates UBS’ commitment to offering its billionaire clients a truly integrated platform with best-in-class investment banking and asset management services. Indeed, the investment bank‘s market-leading position in trading, research and corporate finance has become an inimitable differentiator with Asia’s tactical investors. The bank also boasts the largest dedicated squad for UHNW clients amongst its Asian peers with 175 client advisors divided into 40 specialised teams.
UBS has demonstrated how a structured integrated bank delivery process can excel – through regular client review meetings between investment banking and wealth management teams, continuous access to a senior investment banker for the client as well as quick a turn-around time for financing requests. Indeed, a combination of these factors led one client, who opened an account with US$80 million in April 2011 and a US$100 million credit limit, to augment the relationship to as much as US$1.6 billion in January 2013. In the interim, the bank executed two total return swaps to provide the client with synthetic exposure to certain stocks, advised on a corporate restructuring that generated a US$1.5 billion liquidity event, and offered several other structured credit solutions.
Amy Lo, Head of Ultra High Net Worth, Asia Pacific at UBS Wealth Management, asserts, “Although the competition is very fierce we do think that our dedicated front-to-back UHNW set-up, combined with the size and strength of UBS group, sets us apart from the other banks.” Asian Private Banker agrees.
- Discretionary Portfolio Services
- Alternative Investments
- LGBT & Diversity Issues
- NRI Services
- Trust Services
BNP Paribas Wealth Management
A compelling confirmation of trust between a client and a bank, some consider discretionary portfolio management the Holy Grail of private banking. For the more sceptical, it is a business model that offers revenue visibility in a fickle market. Hence, although it has yet to find wide acceptance in Asia, discretionary portfolio management is an area that many private banks in the region are focusing considerable time and resources developing.
Of these banks, BNP Paribas has distinguished itself on the basis of team size, AUM, ability to customise global solutions to Asian preferences and performance. Whilst industry estimates peg average AUM in Asian discretionary accounts at 4%, BNP Paribas Wealth Management has bettered that with 6%. Asian Private Banker attributes this outperformance to the quality of the bank’s discretionary services as well as its long history of service to clients.
That said, the bank has also demonstrated, via several case studies, an ability to take an informed view on the markets and implement that view consistently in discretionary portfolios. Confirming that when it comes to discretionary accounts, clients expect advisors to be completely aligned with their own interests, BNP Paribas Wealth Management outbid five other private banks in Hong Kong last year by differentiating its pitch and arguing for a higher allocation to equity than competitors. The client’s decision to invest with BNP Paribas Wealth Management, and thus allocate more aggressively to equities, led to a stronger performance than they would have had otherwise.
Equally important in gaining and maintaining the trust of clients, the firm “does not treat its discretionary portfolio management offering as a distribution arm for the wealth management business,” in the words of Garth Bregman, Head of Portfolio Management, Asia. Unlike at some banks, where discretionary mandates had a surprisingly high percentage of in-house funds, BNP Paribas Wealth Management was able to demonstrate that it operates on an open architecture platform.
Proving its ability to adapt to Asian investor preferences, the bank has introduced a new solution – the Individual Mandate – for clients who want to determine the initial neutral asset allocation which the client can change at any point during the life of the discretionary mandate with a single instruction. Individual Mandates have allowed the bank to win mandates from clients who have not used discretionary services before.
All of these factors, coupled with its overarching commitment to client interests, make BNP Paribas Wealth Management the deserved winner of the award for Best Private Bank – Discretionary Portfolio Services.
Goldman Sachs Private Wealth Management
As the quest to harvest elusive alpha intensifies and Asian investors look beyond traditional asset classes, private banks in the region have used alternative investments as a means to not only attract investor interest but also differentiate their own product suites. The banks that have emerged as leaders in this endeavour are the ones that have unparalleled access to global investment opportunities as well as the expertise to structure them so that they are more palatable to high net worth individuals.
Goldman Sachs has distinguished itself across several criteria including the size of assets invested in alternative investments, access to cutting-edge investment opportunities and its commitment to safeguarding investor interest and closely monitoring risk.
While the firm’s alternative investment platform manages more than US$143 billion in assets globally, its Private Wealth Management (PWM) franchise in Asia manages $5 billion of client investments in hedge funds and private equity across the firm’s global alternative investment platform.
Asian Private Banker found Goldman Sachs’ Alternative Investments & Manager Selection (AIMS) Group is not just the engine driving its alternatives platform, but also a clear differentiator of its offering in Asia. Powered by more than 275 professionals in nine offices around the world who conduct due diligence on all third-party managers across mutual funds, hedge funds and private equity funds, the efforts of this group have resulted in tangible benefits for the firm’s clients. This has been evident in the year-on-year asset growth in the alternative platform in Asia, with new clients opening accounts explicitly to access this platform.
The firm has offered Asian clients one of the widest arrays of alternative investment opportunities in the private banking industry. In the private equity space, a co-investment partnership with KKR, which rarely opens up investment opportunities to individual clients, was particularly notable.
This unique amalgamation of unrivalled global reach and a patent commitment to using this access only where it served the interests of the client, makes Goldman Sachs the deserved winner of this year’s Best Private Bank – Alternative Investments award.
Goldman Sachs Private Wealth Management
Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT) and Diversity initiatives are, unfortunately, not very high on the list of priorities for many private banks in Asia. However, while a fair and respectful work environment is essential for any business, in a service industry it takes on far greater significance. Innumerable studies have linked a fulfilling work environment and supportive hiring and progression policies to increased productivity. For these and more altruistic reasons, a number of private banks in Asia are creating diversity blueprints that articulate how their organisations will support a diverse work culture.
One private bank has distinguished itself by proactively reaching out to employees and trying to understand and address their needs regardless of whether the local law compelled it to do so.
The deserved winner of this year’s Award for Distinction, Goldman Sachs Private Wealth Management (PWM) has institutionalised inclusion and made a concerted, firm-wide commitment to making diversity a part of its corporate DNA. The dedication to the cause most certainly percolates from the firm’s most senior leaders – Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, joined 24 other business leaders in signing a historic letter of support urging New York State to enact marriage equality legislation. The legislature subsequently passed the Marriage Equality Act in June 2011, presenting Goldman Sachs, not only as a champion of LGBT rights within the firm, but also in the public eye.
Not surprisingly then, although all employees at the bank are required to complete at least two hours of diversity training each year, the majority of them average four hours or more.
In particular, the bank’s private wealth management business in Asia has led the charge from the frontline, spearheading many of its diversity initiatives. Ronald Lee, Head of PWM in Asia Pacific, is also Co-Chair for Diversity in the region, steering the firm’s overall diversity strategy. Nick Yim, Head of the Greater China business for PWM, is on the board of advisors of the Hong Kong Women’s Network. Mary Anne Choo, a Managing Director on the PWM team is a member of the firm wide Diversity Committee. Women are also well-represented on the senior leadership team – over 50% of the managing directors and overall employees at the private bank in Asia are women.
An excerpt from its Business Principles, which the firm claims is the foundation of its culture, explicitly reiterates its commitment to embracing and understanding all people, regardless of cultural and sexual orientation – “Being diverse is not optional; it is what we must be”.
Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management
An estimated US$110 billion in investible assets and a seemingly insatiable appetite for corporate acquisitions, real assets and tactical products have made the increasingly moneyed Indian diaspora an attractive target for most private banks in the region. However, the speed at which this wealth is generated and the geographical spread over which it is deployed, along with acute price sensitivity, make servicing NRI clients a daunting – and difficult – affair.
Deutsche Asset and Wealth Management (DeAWM) has proven itself to be up to the challenge. A dedicated team of 72 bankers across London, Geneva, Zurich, Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong and a demonstrated ability to customise products and services to the NRI market have helped the bank grow revenues from the segment by 50% over the last two years and by 20% over 2013.
Indeed, 2013 was a landmark year for the NRI banking team as DeAWM became the first bank in India to capitalise on the Reserve Bank of India’s window to swap fresh Foreign Currency Non-Resident (Bank), or FCNR (B) as they are more popularly known, dollar funds. Raising US$450 million from ten of its NRI clients and swapping it with the Indian central bank, DeAWM helped these clients to invest in Indian paper for three years at a fixed rate of 3.5% a year. Because it was the first bank to access the swap window, the deal was seen as an affirmation of DeAWM’s position as a market leader for NRI clients.
DeAWM has also demonstrated strength in another area of priority for global Indian clients – the acquisition of real estate assets. Leveraging on the depth of its in-house expertise as well as the strength of its balance sheet, DeAWM has helped NRI clients buy trophy real estate assets in Europe with large ticket sizes, structuring as well as financing many of these deals.
Of the many banks competing in this category, DeAWM has been able to differentiate itself because its onshore banking licence in India allows the bank to offer NRI clients with a home-market bias, extensive product and services capabilities. From Indian rupee-denominated accounts, onshore lending capabilities, the ability to monetise onshore stock portfolios for Indian clients including single stocks and direct access to Indian capital markets, equities, treasuries and fixed income investments, DeAWM’s NRI clients have full access to tactical and strategic investment tools should they wish to invest in their home country.
For these reasons, Deutsche Asset and Wealth Management has proven itself to be the deserved winner of the award for Best Private Bank – NRI Services for the second consecutive year.
Pictet & Cie
Never before have trust services been as important a differentiator for private banks in Asia as they are likely to be over the next couple of years. With the region poised for a wave of inter-generational wealth transfer, UHNW families are increasingly concerned about wealth protection. Where a private bank is able to demonstrate that it can help families plan and implement a structured approach to this transfer, it will move up the value chain from facilitating capital generation to being a dependable custodian and advisor.
Pictet & Cie, through its trust company Rhone, has distinguished itself on many counts as having a best-in-class trust services offering for Asia’s wealthy. Rhone’s biggest appeal for clients is a systemic strength – its independent ownership and stability. It is financially and legally independent of any external stakeholders, including Pictet & Cie with which it has had a partnership since 2011 when the bank’s wealth planning services, trust and fiduciary business were transferred to Rhone along with the most senior members of each of these teams. Clients trust that the professionals at Rhone have no conflict of interest.
It did not achieve independence by compromising reach though; Rhone has a presence in the Bahamas, Singapore and Canada in addition to Switzerland. Indeed, Asian Private Banker found that Rhone’s geographical reach was complimented by the comprehensive range of services it is able to offer clients under one roof, especially when compared to industry-leading banks that nonetheless outsource aspects of these services to legal and tax professionals.
Rhone has distinguished itself not only on the basis of its ability to advise clients on optimum wealth planning structures, but perhaps more importantly, by periodically reviewing the efficiency with which these structures meet evolving client needs and prioritising the best interests of the beneficiaries, Rhone has proven itself to be the foremost trust and advisory services provider.
- Family Office Services
- External Asset Managers’ Choice
- Philanthropic Services
- Training & Development
As Asian wealth matures, the region’s richest families find themselves facing a plethora of financial and non-financial issues. Private banks, in turn, find themselves vying with an assortment of other service providers to be the trusted advisors and most influential gatekeepers to a family’s fortunes.
Credit Suisse is one of the few banks in Asia that have already proven their leadership of this nascent, evolving landscape, thus making it the deserved winner of the Award for Best Private Bank – Family Office Services for three consecutive years.
Its much-talked about ‘family office hub’ in Singapore, that acts as an incubator for family offices helping them jump start their plans, is one patent differentiator that has proved to be extremely popular with clients. But the bank has excelled on several other fronts.
Asian Private Banker believes the experience of its family office team is another crucial advantage Credit Suisse has over its peers. A core team of five professionals works closely with relationship managers and family office clients, whilst other specialist teams become involved as needed. Bernard Fung, Head of Family Office Services and Philanthropy, Asia Pacific at the bank, spent several years as the Chief Executive of Innotech Advisors, the investment vehicle of Lord Sainsbury of Turville.
Having been a client himself, Fung is able to tailor the bank’s family office service offering so that it is both relevant to, and adds value for, its clients.
Additionally, the bank has acted as a mentor to several single family offices grappling with issues ranging from governance, set-up, infrastructure, wealth structuring, investment management, risk management, counter parties and costs. Whilst some private banks believe the best way of attracting and retaining family office clients is by offering competitive prices on deal execution, Credit Suisse has proven that to be an industry leader, a bank must contribute to the family office ecosystem in a consistent and meaningful manner. Encouraging the flow of information and sharing of best practices rather than ring-fencing individual clients, the bank hosts a family office roundtable every couple of months that allows single family offices to meet, network and learn. Subject to the ‘Chatham House Rule’, these events are meant to foster dialogue rather than deals.
In recognising the needs of fledgling and more mature family offices, Credit Suisse is a first mover amongst private banks to cater to the entire spectrum of family offices in Asia.
Although a few early adopters have used the model or a version of it in Asia since early 2008, the external asset manager (EAM) business is still considered nascent. In 2012, the EAM model’s advantages became clear as a tougher economic environment made the model’s growing AUM and greater visibility for revenue projections attractive indeed. As an increasing number of private banks set up dedicated teams to build on the success of the first few years and service the specific needs of these clients, industry estimates suggest the Asian EAM business will be worth around US$70 billion in the next few years.
In this rapidly evolving, and still relatively young, segment a handful of private banks have distinguished themselves by their commitment to and deep understanding of the EAM business. The insights and best practices at these banks can provide their EAM clients with a strategic edge, transforming this relationship into a truly meaningful partnership.
This year, EAMs from Hong Kong and Singapore nominated Julius Baer as the outstanding and preferred partner for this space. The Swiss pure-play has built on its already impressive reputation for flexibility and exceeding industry standards to win the award for the second time in three years.
One respondent said, “It has to be Julius Baer because of the quality of their service, for EAMs and clients, all the way from the top to the bottom”. EAMs were also quick to point out the bank’s “well-established and well-structured IT platform”.
Another respondent commented, “Julius Baer has a real commitment to the industry. Some other banks do not take EAMs as seriously as they do”. Indeed Julius Bear has recently recommitted to the Asian EAM business and the heads of this segment believe it is the only bank where the EAM business is represented at the board level.
Asian Private Banker has listened to the industry, and on the basis of this feedback, and its own analysis, awards Julius Baer the title of Best Private Bank – External Asset Managers’ Choice for 2013.
UBS Wealth Management
As Asian wealth matures, an increasing number of the region’s affluent are making philanthropy a priority. In Singapore, individual charity contributions, which include philanthropy, have increased significantly every year. China, meanwhile, has seen explosive growth in private foundations, a function of both recent liberalisation of the sector and low public trust in existing charities. Indian high net worth individuals donate as much as 3.5% of their total income to charity in a year according to a recent industry report.
Along with this heightened awareness of and support for charitable causes, there is a definitive shift towards a structured and deliberate approach to giving. A large number of private banks in Asia have partnered with their clients to find the worthiest causes and the most efficient means to support them, often donating their own time and resources to do so.
Of these, one private bank has demonstrated a commitment to transposing global best practices to Asian philanthropy with a sense of immediacy that has been missing thus far. UBS Wealth Management, the deserved winner of the Asian Private Banker Awards for Distinction, Best Private Bank – Philanthropic Services, has amply demonstrated a commitment to helping donors and clients realise their philanthropic ambitions in the most efficient manner.
In 2013 the bank registered the UBS Optimus Foundation in Hong Kong, 14 years after it was first established in Switzerland. Since its inception, the Foundation has supported 250 projects in 75 countries with contributions from 12,000 donors totalling in excess of CHF120 million (US$132 million). Because UBS covers all the administrative costs of the Foundation, all donations are routed directly to charitable projects.
One of the first financial services firms to launch an impact investing offering globally, UBS’ ambitions in this space in Asia are equally impressive – to be the default advisor for all major philanthropic donations in Greater China. Its collaboration with the Li Ka Shing Foundation-associated We R Family Foundation in Hong Kong as well as the numerous events in Hong Kong, Singapore, China and Taiwan that it hosted throughout 2013, will most certainly put it in pole position to realise this ambition.
Most of what ails Asia’s private banking industry today – high costs and even higher attrition rates – can be attributed to the acute talent shortage of the last few years. This disparity the demand for – and supply of – private bankers continues irrespective of market cycles and is beginning to impact not only the revenue streams of private banks but, perhaps more pertinently, the service levels they aspire to provide. Bemoaning the paucity of experienced bankers with the intellectual wherewithal and maturity to put their clients first, most industry leaders have acknowledged the need to expand the talent pool by training aspiring bankers as well as helping more established bankers develop deeper insights. However, only a handful of banks have dedicated resources towards this end.
Of these banks, Credit Suisse has distinguished itself as a leader on several fronts. Realising that its ambition to “become the world’s most admired bank” is predicated on the quality of its bankers, Credit Suisse has “invested in having the best people in the industry” through targeted training initiatives. Identifying and segregating the training needs of potential private bankers, new hires, incumbent bankers as well as senior professionals that may need help preparing for a new role, the bank has developed comprehensive learning tools for each group.
The first private bank to receive the Financial Industry Competency Standards accreditation in 2006, Credit Suisse offers new hires a structured introduction to private banking via classroom and web-based training as part of its Onboarding Bootcamp. Frontline Training, a global certification program that has been recognized by Singapore’s Institute of Banking and Finance, has certified over 500 relationship managers, assistant relationship managers and other client-facing professionals in Asia. Simulated client interactions, an e-test on product knowledge and identification of individual strengths and weaknesses are all part of this certification process. A leadership development program focused on communication skills, presentation skills, presence and influence skills as well as working effectively, helps the bank’s “high potential population” of managing directors and directors “step up to lead”.
Between January and October 2013 when it made the pitch for this award, Credit Suisse demonstrated that as part of its training initiative in Asia, more than 1,728 classroom courses were attended, there were 13,369 classroom-delivered training days and 19,738 employees participated in instructor-led courses with an 86% average level of satisfaction among course participants.
Its comprehensive training structure catering to all professional levels and the impressive results it has produced leave Asian Private Banker in no doubt that Credit Suisse is the deserved winner of the Best Private Bank – Training & Development award.
Asian Private Banker kickstarted the year with a successful third annual Awards for Distinction Gala Dinner. It was an evening of celebration and champagne as private bankers and industry leaders from far and wide flocked to the Ritz Carlton, Hong Kong on the 19th of February to share felicitations.
Often referred to as the Chinese curse, “may you live in interesting times” proved to be a most fitting axiom for 2012 – a year characterised by rampant economic uncertainty in Europe and political ambiguity in the United States. Needless to say, the global financial services industry felt the impact of both, with private banks in particular grappling with one additional dynamic – the concerted and unprecedented effort by regulators globally to introduce increasingly stringent fiscal and punitive measures for the world’s wealthy and their bankers. Consequently, the private banking industry has had to contend with reduced investor appetite on the one hand, and rising costs on the other.Despite this upheaval, Asia continues to be viewed as a land of opportunity for the industry. Since emerging markets continue to maintain their growth trajectory and as the region’s high net worth population comes of age, Asia shoulders the burden of consuming most private banks’ revenue growth projections. Not only is the region a priority market for any private bank worth its salt, it is a hotly-contested battlefield where the world’s biggest banks wage a fierce battle for brand recognition, client loyalty, assets under management, and, crucially, profitability.
The intensity of this battle has led to precariously high staffing costs and, at some private banks, a myopic focus on revenue generation rather than client interests. For others, it has been a time of intense soul-searching. The best private bankers and their banks have responded to these transformational and uncertain times with resilience, maturity, innovation, and restraint, in doing so demonstrating an unwavering commitment to their clients. It is these individuals and banks that the Asian Private Banker Awards for Distinction celebrate.
These preeminent industry players have demonstrated the importance of temperance and of prioritising clients’ best interests over generating alpha when managing discretionary portfolios; they have been guided by a moral compass rather than the minimum regulatory requirement when framing human resource and diversity policies; and their standard operating procedures set the benchmark for industry best practices. Whilst not immune to rising cost/income ratios, these leaders and their banks are responding to industry challenges by sitting out the bidding war for talent while drawing up more sustainable growth plans, continuing to invest in new markets, and breaking out of the broker-dealer model which has served to constrain wealth management in the region.
Indeed, each and every winner of these Awards for Distinction epitomises the best of our industry, demonstrating integrity, loyalty, flexibility and determination.
Shruti Advani, Editor
Asian Private Banker
November 9, 2013 | Submission deadline
January 7, 2014 | Winners announced
February 2013 | Gala dinner held
To view the the 2012 Submission Guidelines, click here.For any questions regarding the Awards for Distinction, please contact:
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +852 2529 0777
The nominees for Asian Private Banker’s Private Banker of the Year are naturally some of the finest practitioners of the art and craft of private banking. They are all, without exception, industry stalwarts recognised for their depth of experience, breadth of industry expertise, and the loyalty they inspire in clients and colleagues alike. A handful of these exceptional women and men – the best of the best – have distinguished themselves on all three counts.In our search for these outstanding representatives, Asian Private Banker reached out to stakeholders across the industry – private bankers, product providers, veteran bankers, as well as clients. Interestingly, these conversations yielded a far greater number of nominees who sit at the helms of pure-play private banks in comparison to the previous year.
A preponderance of respondents, however, believed that Rajesh Malkani, Head of Private Bank – East, Standard Chartered Private Bank, is the most deserving recipient of this year’s Private Banker of the Year award; and Asian Private Banker agrees.
Charged with crafting the private banking strategy at a bank known for its commercial and retail operations, Rajesh embodies those qualities which make an industry leader. Indeed, his agile decision making and clear guidance – both patently “needs of the hour”, not only for Standard Chartered Private Bank, but for the industry as a whole – cement Rajesh as 2012’s exemplary private banker.
Rajesh joined Standard Chartered in 2006 but it is his work during the last couple of years – detailing and executing its private banking strategy, making marquee hires, honing its market segmentation and product offering – that has brought him the most accolades. Rajesh’s calibrated staffing policy and his decision to sit out the bidding war for talent, currently underway at a number of competitors, were also cited by those we talked to.
Yet 2012 was far from an easy year for both the private banking industry and Standard Chartered in particular. That Rajesh’s peers refer to Standard Chartered’s private banking franchise in Asia as an “increasingly meaningful competitor” is testament to both the solid foundation he has built and the bank’s long-term commitment to the region. At the helm of a relatively young private banking operation, Rajesh has been able to demonstrate, not just his flair for leadership, but crucially, his intrinsic understanding of what it takes to succeed.
As one client remarked, “Rajesh strips the bells and whistles and performs on core deliverables – solutions, products. He is as likely to take a meeting at a Starbucks as long as he is absolutely sure he is adding value”. In these transformative times, this single-minded focus on the essentials is an attribute many would do well to aspire towards.
UBS Wealth Management
Minting millionaires faster than any other region in the world, Asia continues to be at the forefront of global wealth creation and a battleground for private banks as they compete for a share of Asian assets; and whilst all banks in the region are keeping a close eye on rising cost/income ratios and decreasing client activity, a handful of them are also spending considerable resources, infusing value into every aspect of their client relationships. A few banks, in particular, are focussed on excellence – in their people, processes, service offering, and, ultimately, client experience – emerging as strong contenders for the Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – Asia award for 2012.
Trumping its peers, UBS Wealth Management (WM) is the deserved winner of this award for the second consecutive year, distinguishing itself on a number of fronts.
Although assets under management is by no means the sole criterion Asian Private Banker uses for adjudging the winner of this award, UBS’ CHF1.6 trillion (US$1.73 trillion) in private client assets, of which CHF190 billion (US$205.7 billion) are in Asia, places it in the highest echelons of private banking. The bank’s stellar heritage – it has maintained a presence in Asia since 1964 – is only one of the many manifestations of its commitment to the region. Two of its three global booking centres are in Asia (Hong Kong and Singapore) and it has 25 centres in 14 territories across the region’s multiple time zones, including onshore wealth management centres in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Japan, and India.
While many banks in Asia claim “people” to be their “biggest asset”, Asian Private Banker finds UBS WM’s commitment to its unparalleled quality and consistency a distinguishing factor. Indeed, as the only bank in the region to have a dedicated training campus, UBS bankers participate in a diploma programme as part of their professional development.
And with a private banking platform that even competitors acknowledge as best-in-class, UBS Wealth Management’s clients have emerged as the biggest beneficiaries of this good fortune.
“Ultimately, our success and competitive strength lies in the quality of the service we deliver to our clients,” affirms Kathryn Shih, CEO Wealth Management APAC. “I am proud to say that we have the best qualified and trained people in the market.”
UBS Wealth Management
The lure of Hong Kong’s ultra high net worth segment has seen the city’s wealth management landscape become one of the most populated – and contested – in the region. Private banks looking to succeed in this space not only need to maintain a comprehensive and dedicated presence, but also demonstrate a solid understanding of the specificities of conducting business in one of the world’s key financial hubs.
This year, Asian Private Banker recognises UBS Wealth Management (WM) as the preeminent private bank in Hong Kong – the Swiss giant proving that sheer size does not preclude the bank from effectively localising its offering for the Hong Kong market. In fact, UBS WM, having established a presence in Hong Kong in 1964, today considers the city a “home market”; and with 700 dedicated staff on the ground and a market share of nearly 15%, Asian Private Banker concurs.
UBS WM’s localised innovation is clearly evidenced by the fact that it was one of the first private banks to launch a Dim Sum Bond Fund for private clients, resulting in one of Asia’s biggest investment fund initial public offerings to date. The private bank also maintains a close working relationship with UBS’ investment banking arm, cross-fertilising ideas and bringing institutional-level research and investment opportunities to its sophisticated high net worth clients.
On the back of such initiatives, UBS WM has grown its assets under management in the Asia Pacific region to an extraordinary CHF190 billion (US$205.7 billion) as of third quarter of 2012. Hong Kong contributes significantly not just to the APAC AUM but also to the net new money to the private bank’s Asia Pacific business, making 2012 its best year for net new money since the 2008 financial crisis.
Jean-Claude Humair, Managing Director and Regional Market Manager for Hong Kong at UBS Wealth Management, rightly cites the private bank’s nimbleness as a fundamental element of its success.
“Our clients are sophisticated and they value us for bespoke solutions that we are able to offer,” he remarks. That Asian Private Banker recognises UBS Wealth Management as the Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – Hong Kong for 2012 certainly confirms his conviction.
Bank of Singapore
Singapore has blossomed into a banking and finance epicentre, bringing with it opportunity and rivalry for private banks looking to tap Asia’s burgeoning high net worth population, as well as an increasingly eastward-looking global client pool. Accordingly, private banks with a presence in the city-state are building teams and honing offerings so as to increase their share of a US$439 billion market. Against this backdrop, Asian Private Banker has identified one private bank which has utilised its local insight and know-how to fortify its status as a key player in the Singapore private banking scene.
Bank of Singapore receives the Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – Singapore award for the second consecutive year in recognition of its ambitious – and effective – pursuit of growth; and the numbers don’t lie.
Bank of Singapore received US$7 billion of net new money in 2012. Assets under management exceeded US$41 billion, more than a 30% jump from its 2011 numbers. At the same time, the private bank has almost doubled the number of relationship managers (RMs), and now has close to 280 RMs of various nationalities serving its global clients. It also has close to 25 specialists engaged in proprietary research in key areas including estate planning services and insurance solutions, and a 15-person strong team dedicated to discretionary portfolio management.
Embracing a truly open architecture strategy has allowed the local private bank to bring a diverse range of products and services to its discretionary, advisory and trading-oriented investors.
At the same time, Bank of Singapore is well placed to offer commercial and business banking solutions and services, such as mortgage financing and corporate finance, through its parent company OCBC Bank.
Indeed, the future is bright for this fledgling private bank, a sentiment shared by Bahren Shaari, Global Marketing Head of South East Asia at Bank of Singapore. “We have the complete building blocks of a good private banking offering,” he says, adding “Our edge at being an Asian bank and knowing the region better, combined with the network of our parent company OCBC makes us the preferred private bank here.”
Goldman Sachs Private Wealth Management
Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT) initiatives are, unfortunately, low on the list of priorities for Asia’s private banks. And yet, as the fight to attract and retain talent intensifies, banks are beginning to realise that being “LGBT-friendly” makes smart business sense. Indeed, innumerable studies have linked supportive hiring and progression policies to increased productivity. Whether driven by business smarts, altruism, or both, those private banks which are actively creating diversity blueprints and articulating how they will nurture and support a diverse work culture, have appropriately commanded the attention of Asian Private Banker.
Accordingly, Asian Private Banker has judged one private bank to be at the forefront of LGBT and diversity initiatives, whether through targeted recruitment drives, supportive maternity and paternity leave policies or increased understanding of same-sex partnerships. This bank has distinguished itself by proactively reaching out to employees in an effort to understand and address individual needs, irrespective of its requirements under local law.
Goldman Sachs Private Wealth Management (PWM), the worthy winner of this year’s Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – LGBT & Diversity Issues award, has institutionalised inclusion to the point where diversity is an inextricable element of the bank’s DNA. Myriad on-going initiatives, including its US$100 million 10,000 Women programme aimed at providing “underserved female entrepreneurs” with access to business and management education, have distinguished Goldman Sachs PWM from its peers.
Ron Lee, Head of Private Wealth Management in the region, is also Co-Chair for Diversity in Asia Pacific, steering the firm’s overall diversity strategy. Women are remarkably well-represented on the senior leadership team – over 50% of the managing directors and overall employees at the private bank are female. And while cynics may dismiss diversity initiatives as a “bull-market phenomenon”, Lee has a clear response. “You cannot link spending on diversity to market cycles, it is not a luxury,” he retorts.
Indeed, an excerpt from Goldman Sachs’ Business Principles, which the firm claims to be the foundation of its culture, iterates its commitment to embracing and understanding all people, regardless of culture and sexual orientation, stating “being diverse is not optional; it is what we must be”.
Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management
Industry estimates peg the quantum of wealth held offshore by the increasingly moneyed Indian diaspora to be in excess of US$70 billion. However, conversations with the industry have repeatedly revealed that “tapping into NRI wealth is no mean feat” and hence, even though it is “a key growth driver” at almost every private bank in the region, NRI banking continues to be an area that is dominated, only by a few banks.Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management (PWM) has proven itself to be one of these banks. With over €6.9 billion (US$8.9 billion) in assets under management from South Asian clients, Deutsche Bank PWM is able to claim over 10% market share in what even its peers acknowledge is a fragmented and rapidly evolving market. Revenues have grown by 25% in the year to date from a large base; and whilst assets under management is by no means the sole criterion by which Asian Private Banker has adjudged the success of the bank, Deutsche Bank PWM has distinguished itself by the size and market-penetration of its NRI business.
Far harder to quantify, however, is what NRI bankers at Deutsche Bank PWM call the “Anshu-factor” – the “Pied Piper Effect” Deutsche Bank’s Indian-born global Co-Chief Executive Officer, Anshu Jain, has on the global Indian diaspora. Not only does Jain take a keen interest in the bank’s NRI business, he actively reaches out to and meets with NRI clients in a professional as well as private capacity.
Another critical differentiator is Deutsche Bank PWM’s Indian onshore presence. Whilst not an imperative for a flourishing NRI business, an onshore licence allows banks to freely access India’s capital-hungry domestic market and provide several points of onshore connectivity for clients. Critically, Deutsche Bank PWM is also able to offer onshore lending capabilities to its Indian clients.
For clients looking to unlock the value of their assets, the bank’s vast investment banking machinery is another clear advantage. Indeed, Amrit Singh, Managing Director and Head of Global South Asia, spent over a decade as a corporate and investment banker with Deutsche Bank before he made the move to private banking.
For these reasons, Asian Private Banker deems Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management the deserved winner of this year’s Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – NRI Services award.
BNP Paribas Wealth Management
The entrepreneurial spirit which has fuelled Taiwan’s economic ascension is well and truly alive. Led by a dominant semiconductor industry, wealth creation in Taiwan has driven the demand for corporate and investment banking services and, accordingly, is the reason for the sizeable pool of high net worth individuals estimated at over 89,000 as of 2012.
Well positioned to take advantage of this space is BNP Paribas Wealth Management (WM), recipient of the Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – Taiwan award for the second consecutive year – its strong domestic presence ensuring that the private bank maintains a deep understanding of the needs of Taiwan’s wealthy.
A fundamental driver of the French bank’s success is its facilitation of both wealth preservation and wealth creation, as the nation’s old guard, dating back some 20 to 30 years, looks to pass the torch to a new generation of entrepreneurs. “We are here to grow businesses or fulfil dreams,” says Henry Pang, Head of Taiwan Market, BNP Paribas WM. “Our geographical presence, our mileage in the Greater China region, and, our corporate and investment banking network allow us to service this region,” says Pang.
Accordingly, Asian Private Banker recognises BNP Paribas WM’s success in building upon its US$600 million of assets under management as of 2011, achieving 54.5% year-on-year growth between the third quarter of 2011 and 2012.
Beyond its corporate and investment banking capabilities, BNP Paribas WM is Taiwan’s widest provider of funds; it has a well-regarded income advisory; and, it is quick to satiate client needs, as evidenced by its premier offering of RMB products.
Taken together, these competencies and offerings add up to one formidable private banking package, clearly justifying BNP Paribas Wealth Management as the winner of the Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – Taiwan award for 2012.
Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management
Ultra high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) (those with investable assets of US$30 million or over) are considered the private banking industry’s trophy catch. In Asia alone, an estimated 42,895 UHNWIs account for US$6.25 trillion in wealth – a coveted prize pool for the region’s private banks. For this reason, banks are pursuing a diverse range of strategies, from optimising client experience to providing access to innovative investment opportunities, in order to differentiate ultra high net worth offerings and, ideally, to boost market share.
For the second consecutive year, Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management (PWM) has proven to Asian Private Banker that it leads the field in terms of its offering to UHNWIs, achieving a healthy 60% increase in its UHNWI business in terms of client numbers since 2011.
Underpinning the private bank’s success is its Key Client Partner initiative, bringing together the best of Deutsche Bank’s public and private products and services for the exclusive benefit of its ultra high net worth clients. And while other large integrated banks may profess to providing a similar service, Asian Private Banker considers the pedigree of Deutsche Bank PWM’s team (many of whom have at least 15 years of experience on both the wealth management and institutional sides) to be a significant point of difference between Deutsche Bank PWM and its peers.
Indeed, this ensures the bank is not only in tune with clients’ wealth management needs, but also with their wealth creation, corporate, and capital raising strategies.
On the basis of these strengths, Anurag Mahesh, Managing Director and Head of Global Investment and Key Client Solutions at Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management, is focussing on fortifying the bank’s UHNWI services. “In the coming year, we plan on further building upon our Key Client Partner initiative by growing this team by about 30%, with our product platform serving as an attractive proposition for acquiring new talent by allowing them to provide best-in-class solutions for UHNW clients,” he says.
Asian Private Banker, therefore, recognises both Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management’s track record and vision in the ultra high net worth space, awarding it the Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – UHNWI Services award for 2012.
Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch
Discretionary Portfolio Management is the most compelling confirmation of trust between a client and his or her bank, and the predominant model for wealth management in most of Europe. Although it has yet to find wide acceptance in Asia, it remains the most coveted business model for many private banks in the region who want greater visibility and consistency in revenues.
Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch (Lombard Odier) has built itself a niche as one of the few banks in Asia focussed on the discretionary model. Whilst industry estimates peg average assets under management in discretionary accounts in Asia at 4%, Lombard Odier has set the bar considerably higher, with an impressive 50% of assets under management in Asia in discretionary accounts. Asian Private Banker attributes this outperformance to the quality of the bank’s discretionary services as well as its long history of superior service to clients.
Having said that, Lombard Odier has not allowed itself to be limited by its history; rather, it has demonstrated an agility in responding to market conditions that is rare for a centuries-old institution. Bracing itself for increasingly unpredictable markets, Lombard Odier has moved from a traditional discretionary portfolio management model to a risk-based asset allocation model, which was hereto offered only to institutional clients. “Traditional discretionary portfolio management often underestimates risks, we are convinced our new approach lowers volatility in the portfolio,” explains Vincent Duhamel, Head of Asia at Lombard Odier.
In addition, clients who trust Lombard Odier to make investment decisions on their behalf put their faith in the firm’s independent, family-run partnership model and its global managing partners who are jointly responsible for all the bank’s liabilities to the full extent of their personal assets. Duhamel sums up clients’ expectations succinctly when he says “Clients come to us for safety and that is what we must provide”
These factors, coupled with its overarching commitment to client interests, make Lombard Odier the clear winner of the Asian Private Banker Best Discretionary Manager award, for the second consecutive year.
BNP Paribas Wealth Management
As the search for alpha intensifies and Asian investors look beyond traditional asset classes, private banks in the region are looking to alternative investments as a means to not only pique investor interest but also to differentiate their own product suites. The banks that have emerged as leaders in this endeavour are the ones that have honed their understanding of the complex nature of these products and their specific liquidity requirements. For private banks, the challenge has been to expand the market for alternative investments beyond institutional investors and re-package these products so that they are more palatable to high net worth individuals.
Asian Private Banker judges BNP Paribas Wealth Management (WM) to be the worthy recipient of this year’s Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – Alternative Investments award, because it has responded with innovation and flexibility to intrinsic complexity of selling alternative investments to Asian clients.
This deftness is evidenced in BNP Paribas WM’s growing footprint in this space, as clients vote with their money. US$600 million of client assets in Asia are invested in alternative products on the bank’s platform. Indeed, clients are clearly voting with their money, with 3% of clients’ total invested assets with BNP Paribas WM in Asia sitting in alternative investments.
Since the majority of clients looking for alternative investments tend to focus on hedge funds, the US$1.5 billion BNP Paribas Wealth Management manages in client investments into hedge funds globally (excluding fund of funds) clearly indicates its leadership in this space.
For clients wary of the large “bite-size” involved in private equity investments, BNP Paribas has instituted feeder funds that charge clients a nominal fee, allowing them access to private equity investment opportunities where the initial investment can be as low as US$250,000 – a stark contrast to the US$5-10 million otherwise required for direct subscription to these opportunities; and given Asian investors’ instinctive preference for real estate investments, BNP Paribas Real Estate’s leading position in European real estate transactions and services is a clear differentiator for clients who want trophy properties in London, Paris – even a vineyard in le Midi.
Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management
“Success breeds success,” is clearly an idiom that Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management (PWM) has taken to heart. For the second consecutive year, the bank has emerged as the deserved winner of the Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – China award.
Deutsche Bank PWM’s onshore presence is a clear differentiating factor for winning the award, in addition to its 140-year history of presence in the country emphasising its understanding of local client needs. Since Deutsche Bank PWM started business on the Mainland in 2006, it has assiduously built its infrastructure at an impressive rate. Currently the bank has branch offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing and Tianjin, serviced by a team of onshore relationship managers with a further 80 in Greater China.
Whilst 2012 was a most challenging year for many participants in the private banking industry in China, Deutsche Bank PWM managed to excel by increasing its AUMs and net income by double digit percentages. Asian Private Banker attributes this growth not to a simple client acquisition by numbers strategy, but to an increase in revenues from existing clients, representing considerable effort to understand their needs and deepen existing relationships.
Deutsche Bank PWM’s outstanding range of products – from complex discretionary portfolio management to aircraft financing for ultra high net worth Chinese nationals – was another deciding factor as the winner of this award. Indeed, many a private bank’s challenge in China has been to help clients diversify portfolios from predominantly equity or real estate assets. Deutsche Bank PWM has demonstrated its ability to do just that, manifest by a sharp increase in hedging transactions and cross border work. “Our strong growth in net new assets reflects our understanding of our clients’ individual complex needs,” confirms Lok Yim, Managing Director and Head of North Asia, Deutsche Bank PWM. The bank’s second successive year as winner of the Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – China award is testament to that strategy.
Standard Chartered Private Bank
As the pull of India’s high net worth segment intensifies, those private banks which maintain a dedicated onshore presence hold an enviable advantage over their peers. And the prize is substantial. Recent industry reports show that the world’s second most populous nation has a high net worth population of 126,000 persons with a combined wealth of US$477 billion, accounting for 4.5% of total Asia Pacific high net worth individual wealth.
In this fiercely competitive space, Asian Private Banker deems one bank worthy of the Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – India award.
Standard Chartered Private Bank may have made its local debut in 2007, but its parent company, Standard Chartered, has a rich 150-year history in India, making it the oldest (and largest) foreign bank, and the first to have an Indian depository listing at the Bombay Stock Exchange. On the back of this heritage, Standard Chartered Private Bank has built up a formidable private banking business in India, its five key centres in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, and Bangalore, serviced by a team of 40 relationship managers, 10 investment advisors, and a total staff number exceeding 90 persons.
Given that Standard Chartered’s domestic roots run deep, its private banking business has been able to tap into multi-generational relationships nurtured by the commercial bank, bringing to its clients a diverse array of services, including lending, mortgages, private equity, direct equities, investment products, and corporate banking. “We have experienced sound and sustainable growth so far which has been achieved through a consistent and focussed strategy, selective relationship manager hiring, and the ability to work across Standard Chartered to attract clients and to offer a comprehensive suite of financial solutions,” affirms Sandeep Das, Head of Standard Chartered Private Bank, India.
The strategy has clearly worked. An overwhelming majority of India’s richest nationals bank with Standard Chartered, leading Asian Private Banker to award Standard Chartered Private Bank the Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – India award for 2012.
Never before have trust services been as important a differentiator for private banks in Asia as they are likely to be over the next decade. With the region poised for a wave of inter-generational wealth transfer, ultra high net worth families are increasingly concerned about wealth protection. Where a private bank is able to demonstrate that it can help families plan and implement a structured approach to this transfer, it will move up the value chain from facilitating capital-generation to being a dependable custodian and advisor.
HSBC Private Bank has distinguished itself on many counts as the preferred provider of trust services to Asia’s wealthy. The group’s legacy in the region gives it an undeniable first-mover advantage. Indeed, some of its Hong Kong and Singapore-incorporated trust companies date back to the late 1940s, an indicator that it was almost always the primary option for clients looking to establish trusts in the region.
Yet despite HSBC Private Bank’s impeccable pedigree, Asian Private Banker notes that the bank has not rested on its laurels, instead using this heritage as a platform from which to catapult to greater heights. Continuously investing in its trust business, HSBC Private Bank today employs over 350 professionals for its fiduciary services team in Asia. The quantum of resources it has dedicated to nurturing its trust business and its dedication to growing this team, irrespective of market cycles, have served to set HSBC Private Bank apart from its peers.
Quality has not, in this case, been compromised for quantity, and the bank’s trust relationship managers and legal and fiduciary specialists have proven to be best-in-class – a point clearly reflected by its US$60 billion in trust assets in Asia. Moreover, HSBC Private Bank’s trust business serves over 2,000 families and administers wills for over 3,000 individuals in the region, many of these relationships being with third-generation clients.
That some clients perceive HSBC Private Bank’s trust services to be comparatively costly further demonstrates its differentiation as a quality provider. “Sometimes clients think that we are too expensive when they compare HSBC with our competitors,” affirms Christopher Marquis, Managing Director and Head of Private Wealth Solutions, North Asia at HSBC. “However, many return to us having compared our unparalleled depth in resources, experience and expertise in Asia over several generations.” To be sure, Marquis’ summation is concordant with Asian Private Banker’s own, leaving no doubt that HSBC Private Bank is the worthy recipient of the Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – Trust Services award for 2012.
Pictet & Cie
The definition of a boutique bank is a topic of much debate in our industry – whilst some believe a bank is boutique depending on the size of its assets under management, others use a bank’s business model or headcount as a benchmark. And while eligibility for the Asian Private Banker Best Boutique Private Bank award requires wealth management to be a bank’s sole core business activity, success in this category hinges on a candidate’s ability to push beyond this base qualification. Specifically, its product and service offerings should be diverse and innovative, its stability should be indisputable, and its reputation and culture should serve to both attract and retain the industry’s top talent.
That Pictet & Cie qualifies on these grounds is testament to the Swiss boutique’s ability to balance specialisation and scope, offering clients a range of asset classes including some which go beyond the traditional forte of pure-play banks, such as real estate and commodities.
Asian Private Banker views Pictet’s independence from external links – which may otherwise influence the bank’s product or service offering – as a core facet of its proposition to clients. Indeed, 80% of the funds in the private bank’s model portfolio are non-Pictet funds, a reliable measure of its independence, which according to Jacques de Saussure, a Switzerland-based senior partner at the bank, is a central tenet at Pictet & Cie. “Independence lies at the heart of our business and our ability to manage our clients’ assets without distraction,” he explains.
Yet Pictet’s independence does not come at the cost of stability. It is, at present, the only bank of its size to be awarded an AA- credit rating with a stable outlook. Pictet also has a high Tier I ratio (16.9% at the end of 2011). For these reasons, Asian Private Banker considers Pictet & Cie to be this year’s preeminent boutique bank in Asia, and the worthy winner of the Asian Private Banker Best Boutique Private Bank award for 2012.
NAB Private Wealth
In a market where wealth is mature and the private banking space is fiercely contested, NAB Private Wealth dominates on account of its size, experience, and stability, making it the clear winner of the Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – Australia award for 2012.
Since its inception in 1995, NAB Private Wealth has gone on to capture a 40% market share, which is presently the largest peer group share in the industry. Driving this domestic dominance has been the private bank’s ability to assemble a dedicated team of 470 professionals, in turn allowing the bank to cover both key and fringe locations throughout Australia.
This widespread presence is complemented by a comprehensive range of product solutions and specialist expertise, encompassing investment transactions, wealth and protection advice, estate planning, and insurance solutions, all based on an open architecture platform – a feature particular to only a handful of Australia’s domestic private banks. Furthermore, in today’s fragile economic environment, that the overarching National Australia Bank holds a AA- credit rating, is a point of particular comfort for NAB Private Wealth’s clients, who have, to date, entrusted the bank with approximately AUD1.3 billion (US$1.36 billion) in funds under management, AUD800 million (US$838.7 million) in personal trusts, AUD18 billion (US$18.9 billion) in lending, and AUD12 billion (US$12.6 billion) in deposits.
Going forward, Angela Mentis, Executive General Manager at NAB Private Wealth, sees huge opportunity in Australia’s fragmented, broker/boutique-dominated wealth management industry; hence, NAB Private Wealth is working towards increasing the synergy between its own client pool and that of NAB Bank’s constituent parts to bring a single, holistic wealth management offering to its clients, as well as extending its private banking offering to new clients in the Asia Pacific region. “We firmly believe we are Australia’s best private bank based on our capabilities,” says Angela Mentis, Executive General Manager of NAB Private Wealth. “There is nothing that our clients come to us for that we cannot provide.”
Standard Chartered Private Bank
A wealth management market that is growing faster than the global average has put the Middle East firmly on the map for all private banks with ambitions in developing markets. Despite turbulent world markets, private wealth in the Middle East grew by 4.7% in 2012, with the ultra high net worth segment accounting for 9% of total household wealth, according to industry estimates.
Long before it became the wealth management destination du jour for private banks, the Middle East has been a priority market for Standard Chartered Private Bank. The bank opened its first branch in the region in Bahrain in 1920. Hence, while its peers are still hiring teams and customising their wealth management offering to better suit regional specificities, Asian Private Banker found that Standard Chartered Private Bank is able to focus on deepening its share of wallet in the Middle East.
Standard Chartered Private Bank’s regional office is headquartered in the Dubai International Financial Centre. In the Middle East, Standard Chartered Bank’s operations span the following key countries: Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. At present, 64 dedicated private banking relationship managers service the region, and the bank has iterated its commitment to continuously hire quality talent.
Another differentiating factor for the bank is its extensive product suite that is innovative and extensively customised to suit local needs and norms. Aside from offering Shariah-compliant products to its wealth management clients, Standard Chartered was also the first bank to offer a Shariah-compliant offshore RMB fiduciary deposit for clients. “This is how we innovate and customise, and this is what sets us way ahead of others as being the preferred private bankers for the ultra high net worth in the Middle East,” says Stephen Richards-Evans, Managing Director and Head of Europe, Middle East, Africa, India and the Americas at Standard Chartered Private Bank.
This instinctive understanding of what clients truly want is reflected in Standard Chartered Private Bank’s asset base; and whilst asset size is not the only criterion Asian Private Banker uses to assess success, 20% year-on-year growth in revenues from its Middle East private banking operations cements Standard Chartered Private Bank as the winner of this year’s Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – Middle East award.
Philanthropic endeavours, once considered the domain of Western high net worth individuals, are rapidly gaining traction with Asia’s wealthy. Private banks – whether universal or boutique – have been quick to respond, boosting teams and rolling out philanthropic initiatives in an effort to capture clients’ altruistic imaginations.
This year, Credit Suisse has once again proven to Asian Private Banker that it leads the region in terms of its philanthropic services to clients, winning the Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – Philanthropic Services award for the second consecutive year.
Spearheading the bank’s offering is its SymAsia Foundation, launched in early 2010, which continues to receive a tremendous response from clients who view it as a straightforward alternative to setting up their own charitable foundations. In that time, funds committed and disbursed via SymAsia, as well as the number of client foundations set up under it, have doubled, with disbursements being made to more than 60 charitable organisations throughout Asia Pacific.
Credit Suisse’s team of three Singapore-based specialists draws upon each individual’s prior experience working with charitable foundations, to pursue what they believe to be the future of charitable giving in Asia: strategic philanthropy. “If there is no tangible result of the effectiveness of philanthropic giving for the donor, he or she loses interest over a longer period of time,” explains Mae Anderson, Philanthropy Advisor, Private Banking Asia Pacific at Credit Suisse. “Our emphasis for this year has been to work with clients who want a more strategic model of philanthropy. This is a very powerful way of deploying our capabilities and strengths to social efforts.” Accordingly, Anderson and her team are working towards creating bespoke solutions based on viability, sustainability, and local conditions, enabling philanthropists to maximise dollar impact.
Asian Private Banker therefore recognises Credit Suisse’s proactive championing of philanthropic initiatives throughout Asia, its leadership in this space confirming Credit Suisse as the recipient of the Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – Philanthropic Services award for 2012.
SCB Private Banking
Thailand’s wealth markets spell opportunity for the private banking industry, with its high net worth (HNW) population and wealth set to triple, from 47,000 persons and US$214 billion (2010) to 136,000 persons and US$647 billion by 2015, respectively. Yet with many of the region’s private banks deviating from the traditional, holistic servicing of HNW needs – instead using their wealth management businesses as a distribution channel for their own mutual funds – one private bank has bucked this trend.
As part of Thailand’s oldest local bank, Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) Private Banking’s determination to serve the needs of the Thailand’s wealthy has earned it the title of Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – Thailand for 2012.
Today, this century-old financial institution continues to build its infrastructure and expand its footprint domestically, drawing upon the benefits of the integrated banking model by leveraging capabilities native to its constituent parts: SCB Asset Management, SCB Financial Market Division, SCB Economic Intelligence Centre, as well as its corporate and investment banking services. Its success in doing is evidenced by the fact that SCB Private Banking is home to more than 4,500 HNW clients and over THB372 billion (US$11.2 billion) of HNW assets, experiencing 30% year-on-year growth.
Yet sheer size – SCB group has over 1,000 branches in Thailand alone – has not hamstrung its ability to react to clients’ changing needs, but rather empowered it. For example, SCB Private Banking remains mindful both of the HNW demographics’ on-going fiduciary needs as the nation’s older generation looks to pass on its wealth to the younger generation, as well as executive and professional clients’ increasing need for erudite tax advice.
“With the strength of being a universal bank, we are pushing for seamless integration amongst SCB Group to provide ‘one-stop services’ for our high value clients, both for their personal needs and their business requirements,” remarks Lalitphat Toranavikrai, Head of Private Banking, Siam Commercial Bank. “We will continue to expand without a doubt.” Certainly, SCB Private Banking seems to have struck upon a winning formula, leaving Asian Private Banker with no doubt that it is the deserved winner of the Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – Thailand award for 2012.
Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch
Starting out as an extension of the family office model in Europe, the external asset manager (EAM) business is now a reliable, repetitive source of revenue for private banks in mature markets including Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Although a few early adopters in Asia have used the model or some hybrid of it since early 2008, the industry has only recently begun to achieve critical mass.
The tougher economic environment has brought home the tremendous advantages this business model brings to private banks – specifically captive and growing assets under management, greater amortisation of fixed costs, and greater visibility for revenue projections. Accordingly, an increasing number of private banks are setting up dedicated teams to understand and service the specific needs of these clients.
In this rapidly evolving landscape, a handful of private banks have distinguished themselves by their commitment to and deep understanding of the EAM business. The insights and best practices at these private banks can provide their EAM-clients with a strategic edge, transforming this relationship into a truly meaningful partnership.
This year, Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch (Lombard Odier) has been singled out by EAMs in Hong Kong and Singapore as an outstanding and preferred partner in this space. The region’s EAMs have made particular mention of Lombard Odier’s information technology infrastructure, and specifically, its portfolio management tool, which, according to one client, is a “user-friendly and full-featured system, enabling [his firm] to manage clients in a more efficient way”.
Another EAM highlighted Lombard Odier’s innovative “E-Merging” platform, praising it as “a social networking tool for financial experts which has helped [his firm] make contact with other interesting and relevant parties”.
At a time when a significant number of EAMs use loans as a hedging tool, the fact that Lombard Odier does not offer credit facilities in Asia has not deterred the region’s EAMs, with one contributor saying that he preferred to bring his business to the bank because “the bank’s tools are a couple of notches above the competition, while the service is always high quality, professional, and personalised”.
Asian Private Banker has listened to the industry, and on the basis of this feedback and its own analysis, awards Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch the title of Asian Private Banker External Asset Managers’ Choice for 2012.
Depending on who one talks to, Indonesia, with an estimated US$106 billion in onshore wealth, may well be the “next big thing”. Private banks with a dedicated on-the-ground presence will undoubtedly be buoyed by industry predictions that, by 2015, the archipelagic state could have tripled its share of high net worth individuals to 104,000 persons, and quadrupled this segment’s wealth to US$518 billion. Moreover, a rapidly expanding consumption class, propelled by steady gross domestic product growth, will certainly be a boon for Indonesia’s nascent, domestic financial services industry, with one recent report suggesting financial services spending could reach US$565 billion by 2030. And with President Yudhoyono pursuing nationwide infrastructural upgrades in order to increase Indonesia’s foreign investment allure, the country seems poised to become one of the region’s key wealth management hubs.
Recognising that the key to success in this competitive space is maintaining a dedicated, tailored presence, Asian Private Banker judges Credit Suisse to be Indonesia’s best private bank for the second consecutive year. Indeed, 2012 has brought Credit Suisse double-digit growth in its net new assets and asset base, while collaboration revenues generated through providing cross-divisional solutions to Indonesian clients have, also, more than doubled.
Notable, therefore, is the Swiss giant’s sense of dedication to emerging markets, and Indonesia in particular, where its integrated banking strategy allows Credit Suisse to deliver to its Indonesia clients its best solutions and services from across the organisation.
“Credit Suisse has a strong and long-standing presence in emerging markets and Indonesia is an important one,” confirms Francesco de Ferrari, Head of Private Banking Asia Pacific at Credit Suisse. “With emerging markets’ share of the world’s wealth rising strongly and continuously, we have a very positive view of our businesses serving Indonesian clients.”
As ultra high net worth wealth in Asia matures, inter-family financial and non-financial needs increase in complexity. Private banks have responded to this trend by focussing on multi-generational issues such as the safeguarding and transfer of wealth, and, as a result, family offices are an increasingly important part of their wealth management offering in the region.
Credit Suisse is one of the few banks in Asia which have already proven leadership in this nascent, evolving landscape, thus making it the deserved winner of the Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – Family Office Services award. Its much-talked about “family office hub” in Singapore, which acts as an incubator for family offices helping them jump start their family office plans, is one patent differentiator, proving to be extremely popular with clients. Indeed, even though office space at the hub is not rent-free, there is a waiting list of clients hoping to get in. As part of its pitch for this year’s award, Credit Suisse revealed its plans to open a similar hub in Hong Kong in the foreseeable future.
Asian Private Banker believes the experience of its family office team is another crucial advantage Credit Suisse has over its peers. Bernard Fung, Head of Family Office Services and Philanthropy Advisory, Private Banking Asia Pacific at Credit Suisse, spent several years as the Chief Executive of Innotech Advisors, the investment vehicle of Lord Sainsbury of Turville. Having been a client himself, Fung is able to tailor the bank’s family office service offering so that it both remains relevant, and adds value to, its clients.
Fung himself believes it is the bank’s 150+ year history serving family offices in Europe that has put it in pole position to serve family offices in Asia. “Judging from the volume of work we are doing, the potential growth in family office business is very high,” he asserts. “We are well positioned to service this business.”
Shinhan Private Wealth Management
South Korea’s dearth in natural resources may well have been a blessing in disguise for the hardworking peninsula nation, as today it can lay claim to some of the world’s most innovative – and dominant – companies, including Samsung and Hyundai. This global prominence in electronics manufacturing, shipbuilding, and automobiles, to name a fe w, has given rise to a high net worth (HNW) population totalling 144,000 with a combined wealth of US$381 billion, according industry sources. Moreover, these figures are projected to rise, with South Korea’s HNW population estimated to reach as high as 302,000 persons, while total HNW wealth could climb to US$1.12 trillion by 2015. Local banks with deep market penetration stand to gain the most from this opportunity, with one private bank distinguishing itself from its peers in 2012.
Shinhan Private Wealth Management (PWM) is this year’s recipient of the Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – South Korea award. With a gargantuan US$208 billion in assets under management (AUM) – including those clients with KRW500 million (US$450,000) with the bank – Shinhan PWM has clearly benefitted from an integrated banking model, providing clients with access to a wide range of asset management and investment banking solutions, including products which go beyond the typical vanilla-type.
Asian Private Banker makes particular note of Shinhan PWM’s holistic, multidimensional approach to servicing its clients’ needs, offering advisory capabilities in tax and real estate planning as well as health care services and priority access to culturally-significant events.
Undoubtedly Shinhan PWM is a tough act to follow, given its dedicated team of 100 relationship managers, its local insight, and its wealth of capabilities. On the strength of these reasons, Shinhan Private Wealth Management may lay claim to the title of Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – South Korea, for 2012.
CIMB Private Banking
Onshore opportunity abounds in Malaysia. With consistently strong GDP growth over the best part of four decades, a strengthening Ringgit and asset appreciation in the real estate and equity spaces, Malaysia is poised for a wealth explosion that could see its high net worth population of 32,000 individuals as of 2010 increase to 71,000 by 2015. This year, CIMB Private Banking has demonstrated that it stands ready to tap this potential, rightly earning itself the title of Asian Private Banker Best Private Bank – Malaysia for 2012.
Since its establishment in 2002, CIMB Private Banking’s footprint has expanded to include five domestic private banking branches, with 47 private bankers and a private banker-to-client ratio of 1:62. It has also set out to grow a more nebulous, yet incontestably vital aspect of the private banking business – client trust.
Five years ago, CIMB Private Banking took on the task of persuading an equity-centric domestic market to move assets into fixed-income, with a view to increasing diversification and lowering volatility. Despite clients’ initial tentativeness, CIMB Private Banking’s concerted effort has seen its clients enjoy balanced and consistent returns with lower volatility, while the bank has enjoyed a 14% year-on-year increase in average assets under management per client, to MYR4 million (US$1.3 million), in the process building the bank’s total assets under management to MYR11.5 billion (US$3.8 billion) as of September 2012. Moreover, with almost 20% of CIMB Private Banking clients offering to disclose their total assets to the bank, Asian Private Banker recognises these factors as evidence that the Malaysian stalwart has succeeded in its task.
CIMB Private Banking’s ability to leverage different divisions in the CIMB Group, including its investment bank, commercial bank, trust and estate planning services, and Islamic banking services, ensures the private bank will remain a dominant fixture in Malaysia’s wealth management landscape, a point Carolyn Leng, Head, CIMB Private Banking, Malaysia, is clearly cognisant of. “CIMB Private Banking has the privilege of managing wealth with a truly holistic picture of asset size and allocation,” she asserts – and Asian Private Banker agrees.
The second annual Asian Private Banker Awards for Distinction was a great success as more than 130 acclaimed leaders of the private banking industry convened at the Four Seasons Hotel, Hong Kong to celebrate the hard-earned achievements of 2012. Setting a tone for the evening, this year’s Private Banker of the Year, Rajesh Malkani, shared his thoughts and insights on the past, present, and future of the industry.
Asia is widely viewed as a land of unparalleled opportunity for the wealth management industry.The region’s rapidly growing HNW population and the ensuing accumulation of capital coupled with depressing economic outlooks for the United States and in particular Europe, ensure Asia shoulders the burden of most private bank future projections of growth. Consequently, Asia has also become a hotly-contested battlefield where the world’s biggest banks wage a fierce battle for brand recognition, client loyalty and ultimately – AUMs.While the region’s potential remains undeniable, 2011 was a landmark year for the financial services industry in Asia and in particular for private banks. It brought with it unprecedented volatility, regulatory changes concerted across jurisdictions at a faster clip than was anticipated, mass credit re-ratings of individual institutions as well as sovereign debt and a wave of scepticism and even fear amongst investors that has since settled into apathy. For the best wealth managers and their banks, 2011 also brought with it unprecedented opportunity. These individuals and institutions have responded to transformational times with resilience, maturity, innovation and an unwavering commitment to their clients.
Tempting as it may have been to ride short-term market volatility, these banks have once again demonstrated the importance of temperance and of prioritising their clients’ best interests over generating alpha. Skilfully applying the lessons from the past to the problems of the present, the preeminent players in our industry reacted to the turmoil of 2011, and any associated financial losses, by communicating with stakeholders – employees, shareholders, media and clients included – in a forthright manner.
As rising cost-income ratios threaten disruption across the private banking industry in Asia, a select few have responded with intense soul-searching. The consequential attempt to reinvent the model for private banking in the region will help the industry as a whole move farther up the value-chain and break out of the broker-dealer model by which wealth management in the region has been constrained.
The fight for talent is an important frontier on which the battle for AUMs is being waged. Private banks in Asia who are engaged wholeheartedly in attracting and retaining experienced and motivated teams are beginning to realise that while higher remuneration may add to mounting cost pressures, it is not as effective a retention tool as inspirational leadership. The best private bankers continue to attract the best teams irrespective of the prevailing market conditions. The best leaders focus on grooming these teams to one day take over the mantle, thus fostering a culture of constancy in an industry that is often criticised for its high attrition rates.
All of the above are worthy aspirations for the industry. Whilst some private banks are still assessing their merits, others have already adopted them as best practices. Still others have made them the foundation on which they are building a solid and enduring wealth management franchise in Asia. The inaugural Asian Private Banker Awards for Distinction are a celebration of these remarkable individuals and banks that epitomise the best of our industry – integrity, loyalty, flexibility and tremendous determination.
Indeed, each and every winner of these Awards for Distinction epitomises the best of our industry, demonstrating integrity, loyalty, flexibility and determination.
Shruti Advani, Editor
Asian Private Banker
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +852 2529 0777
Kathryn Shih, UBS Wealth Management
The nominees for the Asian Private Banker Awards for Distinction – Private Banker of the Year Award are some of the finest practitioners of the art and craft of private banking. They are all, without exception, industry stalwarts recognised for the depth of their experience, the breadth of their industry expertise and the loyalty they inspire in clients and colleagues alike. A handful of these exceptional women and men – the best of the best – have distinguished themselves on all three counts.
In our search for these outstanding representatives, we reached out to stakeholders across the industry – private bankers, product providers, veteran bankers as well as clients. An overwhelming majority of them believe that Kathryn embodies the values the private banking industry would like to be known for – a fierce loyalty to her organisation and her clients, a deliberate and consistent focus on mentoring senior bankers and the fortitude to survive the down-cycles.
Kathryn joined UBS in 1987 – in an industry characterised by its alarmingly high attrition rate she immediately distinguishes herself for the loyalty she has shown to her bank and ultimately her clients. In turn she has fostered a culture of constancy at UBS and the bank’s most senior leaders in Asia are well into their second decade with the bank. Kathryn has also managed to carve a distinct niche for herself that draws in part from her role at the helm of the bank but also in large measure from the very particular mix of enthusiasm and energy with which she executes this role. As one veteran banker noted during the nomination process for the awards, “Kathryn has done with a Swiss brand in Asia what many of her peers have tried but failed: made it almost Asian.”
Since 2011 was a difficult year for UBS, as it was for the industry as a whole, that the bank’s wealth management franchise in Asia has emerged relatively unscathed is a testament to the trust the brand and its senior-most ambassador in Asia have built with clients.
“At UBS, my horizons have broadened, not least because I have had the privilege of working with colleagues of unparalleled calibre who have provided unwavering support over the years,” says Kathryn with characteristic modesty.” In light of this, I regard the award as recognition of the entire Wealth Management team in Asia Pacific.”
UBS Wealth Management
With close to US$11 trillion of wealth growing at the fastest pace of any region in the world, the private banking industry in Asia is a battleground for the biggest and the best banks competing fiercely for their share of AUMs. Asian clients have set the bar high and their bankers must fight hard to meet their expectations of service quality and wealth management. No longer in its infancy, the private banking industry in Asia today helps set best practice for the world. Indeed, Asian clients are the globe’s most coveted group of high net-worth individuals.
This rapid growth has also forced bankers in Asia to have an extremely steep learning curve as the institutions they represent fight for differentiation and dominance in what some fear may become a commoditised industry. A few banks are focussed on excellence – in their processes, in their service offering, in their client experience. These exceptional banks were all in the running for the Asian Private Banker Awards for Distinction – Best Private Bank in Asia, but there was one eventual deserved winner: UBS Wealth Management.
One of the leading wealth managers globally, UBS Wealth Management was always to be a close contender for the award with CHF2.1 trillion in assets under management. Of UBS’s 65,000-strong global team, 10% are in Asia where the bank has had a presence since 1964. According to clients and peers alike UBS Wealth Management exemplifies the highest standards of private banking in the industry, from training to client experience, from product diversity to its deep understanding of Asia culture.
“It is an honour to receive this prestigious award,” says Kathryn Shih, CEO Wealth Management Asia Pacific at UBS. “I believe it is a reflection of both the strength of our business in the region as well as of our commitment to help our clients. While I have no doubt that the year ahead will be challenging, we will continue to endeavour to provide holistic advice to our increasingly sophisticated clients. After all, our future success continues to depend on the strength and quality of the relationships we have with them.”
Bank of Singapore
Singapore has positioned itself as one of the world’s leading banking and financing centres, “the Switzerland of the East”. With the highest concentration of HNWI relative to population in Asia, the island-republic is home to 183,000 millionaires and this number is expected to double to 408,000 by the year 2016. This market is of particular value to private banks operating in the region, not just for its indigenous population of HNWIs, but also as a booking centre for the globes’ wealthy.
Bank of Singapore was always a clear contender for the Asian Private Banker – Best Private Bank in Singapore Award but its demonstrated understanding of the Singaporean market, unparalleled local knowhow and network worked strongly in its favour to prevail as the deserved winner.
Despite the challenging market environment in 2011, Bank of Singapore has garnered US$6 billion in net new money for the year, a significant increase from the US$2 billion of net new inflow it saw in 2010. Another compelling consideration is the bank’s earning asset base which grew by 20% for the year and stood at US$38 billion at the end of 2011.
While asset base is an important indicator of success, head-count was another criterion on which banks were judged. Bank of Singapore grew its staff strength by 20% in 2011 and has over 850 employees at present. Of these, 250 are front-line bankers of various nationalities.
Renato de Guzman, chief executive officer of Bank of Singapore, acknowledges the global headwinds likely to impact the private banking industry in Asia in the year to come, but believes this could be a time for opportunity rather than adversity. “Given the recent developments in Europe, we believe that Asian banks are in a good position to further entrench their presence among international investors,” he says.
Indeed, Bank of Singapore has earmarked a “significant amount” for capital expenditures in 2012 towards improving its processes and further strengthening its competitive advantages. De Guzman also points out the strengths of local banks in Asia. “While international investors are familiar with traditional international private banks, it would be sensible for them to partner with Asian banks that offer a similar product platform, service standards and have the edge of knowing [the region]”, he says. “Bank of Singapore is well positioned to meet their needs as we have a global private banking platform and a strong footprint in Asia, through the network of our parent company, OCBC Bank.”
HSBC Private Bank
With the fastest growing high net worth population in Asia Pacific, Hong Kong is the crown jewel amongst wealth management markets in the region. A veritable battlefield for private banks, Hong Kong is also, as a result, home to some of the finest talent and innovations in the private banking industry. Globally accepted best practices, cutting-edge technology, products, services and the best-known banks in the world – it’s safe to say Hong Kong has it all.
Needless to say the contenders for the Asian Private Banker – Best Private Bank in Hong Kong Award are the preeminent banks in our industry. All demonstrated a lasting commitment to Asia, in particular Hong Kong, and each of them has a solid understanding of the specificities of doing business in the region.HSBC Private Bank, winner of this year’s award, has demonstrated that not only does it have a deep understanding of the wealth management market in Hong Kong but that it has been able to leverage that understanding to create an enviable network in the region. Asia Pacific contributes 32% of HSBC Private Bank’s profits and over the last couple of years several of the board’s global practice leaders have made Hong Kong their base. This commitment to Hong Kong at the senior most levels of the bank are a strong differentiator for HSBC amongst the global private banks in Asia and was a key advantage in consideration for the Asian Private Banker – Best Private Bank in Hong Kong Award.
“HSBC Private Bank is honored to have been recognised as the Best Private Bank in Hong Kong in Asian Private Banker’s inaugural awards,” says Desmond Liu, managing director and head of Private Banking North Asia at HSBC. Liu is categorical about the bank’s focus on Hong Kong, “This award highlights our continued leadership and unwavering commitment to continue to grow in Hong Kong, one of our most important markets in Asia.”
Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management/h3>
China is home to one of the fastest growing economies in the world and the unprecedented wealth creation of the last few years has led to a high savings rate and half a million Chinese HNWIs with over US$2.6 trillion in investible assets. Diversification of geo-political risks has proved to be a priority for the wealthy in China but the potential of the Mainland onshore wealth management market is nonetheless tremendous. An onshore presence, while not easy to establish, is critical for any foreign bank serious about its ambitions for wealth management in China.
Hence, it is a key differentiating factor for the Asian Private Banker – Best Private Bank in China Award.Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management is the deserved winner of this year’s award not just because of its long history on the Mainland – first established a presence in China in 1872 with the opening of an office in Shanghai – but also because it has demonstrated a deep commitment to and understanding of the region. Today Deutsche Bank is a locally incorporated bank in China, with branch offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing and Tianjin.
Deutsche’s private wealth management business in China started in November 2006. A dedicated team of 20 professionals caters to HNW clients in China while a second team of 20 serves Greater China.
“With the surging number of millionaires in one of the region’s fastest growing economy, the industry is becoming increasingly competitive with more banks starting up or expanding their China operations. This has made it challenging for clients to bench mark quality and for banks to hire and retain good staff. For Deutsche Bank PWM I don’t see that intense competition because I do believe that our people and our platform is one of the best on the market,” says Tianyin Shi, group head for China at Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management.
Shi reports into reports into Lok Yim, head of North Asia for Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management. Yim believes the bank’s focus on the HNW and UHNW space sets it apart from other players vying for a share of the wealth management market in China. “We do not cater to the mass affluent,” he clarifies.
The definition of a boutique bank is a topic of much debate in our industry – whilst some believe a bank is boutique depending on the size of its assets under management, others use a bank’s business model or headcount as a benchmark. For the purpose of this award, Asian Private Banker defines boutique banks as those whose sole core business activity is wealth management.
Julius Baer is the winner of this year’s award and is fully justified in its motto: “Big enough to matter, small enough to care.” As the only private bank to be awarded a QFII license from the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), Julius Baer has quickly distinguished itself as a boutique bank with the ability to invest directly onshore in China. This is a prime example of how the bank differentiates itself from its boutique peers when offering unique opportunities to its clients.
In 2011, Julius Baer also announced a strategic collaboration agreement with Macquarie Group for private and investment banking opportunities in North and South East Asia. Within the agreement Julius Baer will refer clients’ investment banking transactions to Macquarie, while maintaining its boutique status, without assuming balance sheet risk. “Investment banking was a missing piece in our service offering and our strategic partnership with Macquarie allows us to refer clients with corporate and investment banking needs without on-boarding the risks associated with the investment banking business,” says Dr Thomas Meier, chief executive officer Asia and member of the executive board at Julius Baer.
Macquarie will refer clients who require private banking services to Julius Baer and more of Macquarie’s investment banking products will be available to Julius Baer’s clients in Asia within the framework of Julius Baer’s open architecture platform. Additionally, Julius Baer also acquired Macquarie’s Asian private wealth business which comprises offices in Hong Kong and Singapore and US$1 billion in client assets.
2011 has by no means been easy for boutique banks – they have had to deal with dwindling investment appetite and rising costs without any of the advantages of scale that the larger banks are often able to deploy. Despite the challenges, Julius Baer has expanded the breadth of services it can offer to its clients and re-iterated its commitment to Asia as its “second home.”
This year’s deserved winner of the Asian Private Banker Award for Distinction – Best Private Bank in Australia, has, since its establishment in the country, considered it a priority market. With offices in Sydney and Melbourne providing a full range of private banking, investment banking and asset management services, Credit Suisse celebrated 40 years in Australia in 2011. As a private bank, Credit Suisse has enjoyed operation in Australia since 2006 and has become a leading provider of quality service to the continent’s “million millionaires.”Credit Suisse’s offering is equally strong to its high net worth and ultra high net worth individuals. “Credit Suisse can attribute its competitive strength in Australia to its exceptionally versatile operating and reporting platform, access to its vast global research and investment resource base, a commitment to un-conflicted advice and a talented team of relationship managers,” confirms Edward Jewell-Tait, Credit Suisse’s managing director and head of private banking Australia. “Furthermore Credit Suisse’s integrated bank strategy, which encourages a culture of cross divisional cooperation, has been critical in bringing together the private and investment banking teams to properly service the complex needs of our ultra high net worth clients.”
Credit Suisse is well positioned to maintain a leading position in Australia’s private banking industry and Jewell-Tait is, understandably, cautiously optimistic about the outlook for the coming years. “The outlook for Private Banking in Australia remains positive because of retiring “baby boomers“ as well as the growth associated with a strong resource-based economy,” he affirms. “Obviously, the deteriorating economic conditions in some of the developed markets, particularly in Europe, will promote caution among investors, although this will likely encourage greater use of private banks for financial advice in such uncertain times.”
Standard Chartered Private Bank
The wealth management market in the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf countries is primed to grow faster than the global average. The region’s intrinsic wealth, kept afloat by rising oil prices, is estimated to allow investible assets in the region to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 8% from year-end 2010 through 2015 to reach US$2.8 trillion. It was US$2 trillion at the end of last year. Global wealth, on the other hand, is expected to witness a CAGR of 5.9% until 2015. Little wonder the region’s private banking market is fiercely contested.
Historically, UHNW families in the Middle East preferred to bank assets offshore in either Switzerland or other parts of Europe. However, the region’s benign fiscal regime has slowly convinced investors to keep significant sums of money onshore. For the Asian Private Banker – Best Private Bank in the Middle East Award, an onshore presence was a key differentiator for the eventual winner. Standard Chartered Private Bank, this year’s deserved winner, has a long history in the Middle East – its first branch opened in 1920 in Bahrain. The bank is headquartered in Dubai and its private banking coverage of the region spans across Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, the KSA, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar and the UAE, serviced through a dedicated team of 58 relationship managers. Private banking assets under management are at US$3.4 billion and Standard Chartered’s wealth management franchise catered to 2,173 households in 2011 – impressive growth rates of 20% and 15% respectively from the corresponding figures in 2010.
Standard Chartered Private Bank’s in-depth understanding of the region’s culture and sensitivities stands out amongst its peers. “Our strong heritage, deep roots and dominant local presence in the Middle East gives us a rich depth of knowledge and detailed insights to help in the management of our client’s wealth,” confirms Stephen Richards Evans, head of Standard Chartered Private Bank Europe, Middle East, Africa, India & the Americas. “We furthermore have a unique understanding of the Islamic world to structure innovative Islamic capital market, investment and risk management solutions. Our offices in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) are home to the largest trading platform in the Middle East.”
Citi Private Bank
South Korea has proven to be an increasingly important market for private banks in Asia – according to one industry estimate, South Korea is among the top 20 contributors of growth in global wealth, contributing US$421 billion to total global wealth in the first half of 2011. Home to 217,000 millionaires, the country is expected to experience a period of uninterrupted growth over the next couple of years with a resultant doubling in its rank of millionaires, ensuring it is a priority market for all private banks in the region.
Korea’s cautious regulatory environment forces banks who want to participate in this market to invest greatly in terms of both time and resources to develop a true understanding of the local market and the scope it offers. This year’s award for distinction, Citi Private Bank celebrated its 44th anniversary in Korea last year, reflecting its deep roots and strong commitment to the region and setting it apart from the plethora of local and foreign banks now crying for a slice of this lucrative wealth management market. In fact, Citi is regarded by many as the first financial institution to introduce private banking services in Korea as far back as 1991.
Since then the bank has built a strong network amongst Korea’s wealthy – at present there are 169 Citigold and Citigold Private Client centers and more than 230 Citigold executives and private bankers serving Korean high net worth and ultra high net worth individuals.
BK Jung, Citi Private Bank’s head of South Korea since 2009, is understandably very optimistic about the future of Citi’s private banking business in the region. “I think the most important part of the private banking business is human resources and Citi Korea has recently recruited a number of top talents in the industry with diverse experience,” he avers. “Traditionally, banks in Korea train and raise talents internally, so this approach is a new way Citi is trying to strengthen its human resources. Additionally, Citi is planning on establishing new private banking centers in key areas of HNWIs to provide easier access to prospects in the retail banking business. We expect new branches could eventually expand our business presence while serving customers with better accessibility.”
BNP Paribas Wealth Management
Taiwan is Asia’s fourth largest wealth management market, close on the heels of Japan, China and Australia. High net worth wealth in the country is estimated to be US$500 billion split almost equally between onshore and offshore assets. The region has benefitted from two years of uninterrupted growth, as the HNWI population in Taiwan grew by 14% in 2009 and 2010. Indeed, wealth accumulation in Taiwan is expected to continue at the same or a marginally higher pace over the next two years ensuring competition among private banks for market share is set to gather pace.
While a number of foreign banks have focused on servicing the offshore needs of Taiwanese clients, an onshore presence is a distinct advantage and proved an important differentiator for the deserved winner of this year’s Asian Private Banker – Best Private Bank in Taiwan Award. A standout as a provider of excellent client service, BNP Paribas Wealth Management has had onshore operations in Taiwan since 2005 and is one of three private banks with an onshore presence in the country.
Leveraging over 30 years of experience as a corporate and investment bank in Taiwan, BNP Paribas Wealth Management has rapidly established an enviable private banking franchise in the country, with a presence in Taipei since 2005, Kaohsiung since 2007 and Taichung since 2008. Assets under management have grown at an impressive 20% to 25% per annum and as of October 2011, BNP Paribas Wealth Management in Taiwan was approaching US$600 million of assets under management from more than 500 active accounts. BNP Paribas Wealth Management also offers an expanded product suite to better reflect the priorities of its Taiwanese clients. Hence real estate, private equity, art advisory and a rather unique private jet financing business are all part of the bank’s offering in Taiwan.
Henry Pang, managing director and head of the Taiwan market at BNP Paribas Wealth Management, is optimistic regarding the potential for the private banking business in the country and BNP Paribas Wealth Management’s ability to continue to lead the way. “Despite the global concerns, our assets under management have grown at a good pace,” he says. “We plan to add to headcount this year to service the growing private banking business here.”
One of the fastest growing economies in Asia, Indonesia is also home to a HNWI population growing at a CAGR of 25% thanks to a strong local currency, double-digit GDP growth and a booming real estate market. As a result, Indonesia is also one of the most promising wealth management markets in Asia. While a number of private banks have focused on servicing the offshore needs of Indonesian clients, an onshore presence, along with the accompanying local experience and expertise, is a distinct advantage and was a key factor of differentiation for the Asian Private Banker – Best Private Bank in Indonesia Award.
Credit Suisse proved to be the runaway winner of this year’s award for a number of reasons. Firstly, in interviews with industry stakeholders during the judging process, Credit Suisse was the unanimous choice for the award among its peers. Credit Suisse enjoys an unrivalled network within the Indonesian HNWI community, an indication of the bank’s success at leveraging its well established investment banking and asset management business in the country. Clients note the high quality of Credit Suisse bankers, their understanding of the unique needs of Indonesia’s HNWIs in addition to a robust platform that offers a complete suite of products.
Tee Fong Seng, vice chairman and market area head Southeast Asia for Credit Suisse Private Banking Asia Pacific is unequivocal about the importance of the Indonesian market to the bank’s regional ambitions. “Indonesia is a top priority for Credit Suisse in Asia. We are growing our presence in Hong Kong and Singapore but Indonesia is still the top market for private banking,” he says.
Tee remains optimistic about Indonesia’s prospects as a burgeoning wealth management market and this resource-rich nation’s ability to weather any global headwinds. He is also committed to maintaining Credit Suisse’s ability to differentiate its Indonesian service offering by means of its cutting-edge product suite, highly-experienced bankers and unrivalled networking platform for the country’s wealthy.
Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management
India is home to US$4.1 trillion of wealth and one of the fastest growing high net worth populations in Asia. The majority of bankers who service the region believe onshore wealth is only the tip of the iceberg but an onshore presence is an enviable advantage for any bank that aspires to tap into India’s growing tribe of millionaires.
Deutsche Bank has proven itself a worthy recipient of this year’s Best Private Bank in India Award. An early entrant into the Indian market, Deutsche opened its first branch in India in 1980 and currently employs close to 8,000 professionals in the country, making its presence its largest onshore entity for Deutsche Bank globally. Its private wealth management business is amongst the oldest in the country and has been in existence for over 15 years.
“Growth in Indian wealth is amongst the fastest in the world so India is very important to Deutsche from an onshore as well as off-shore perspective,” says Ajay Bagga, managing director and head of Private Wealth Management (India) at Deutsche Bank.
Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management manages 31.5 billion of assets in India which does not include any assets under advisement, thus the entire figure represents “earning-assets” for the bank. This figure is particularly pertinent as it represents “onshore assets”, an important criterion for comparison between Deutsche and some of the other contenders for the award. Deutsche’s wealth management team in India is made up of 62 dedicated wealth management professionals including 27 relationship managers and the wealth management network’s coverage extends to seven cities.
Unlike some banks who have had to significantly lower their client acceptance threshold for a nascent wealth management market such as India, Deutsche has maintained a uniform threshold for wealth management services globally and its Indian clients have a minimum of US$1 million in assets with the bank – vindication of its policy and proof of client loyalty. It has 1,000 such relationships in the country. We believe Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management’s commitment to India, its clients and service dedication secured its position as the country’s preeminent private bank in 2011.
As UHNWI wealth in Asia matures, inter-family financial and non-financial needs increase in complexity. Private banks have responded to this trend by focussing on multi-generational issues such as the safeguarding and effective transfer of wealth and, as a result, family offices are an increasingly important part of their wealth management offering in the region.
Every large private bank in Asia has a dedicated family office business and the best of these were in competition for the Asian Private Banker – Best Private Bank – Family Office Services Award. Credit Suisse is the deserved winner of this year’s award as it was able to differentiate its service offering to family offices through the establishment of one particular initiative.
Credit Suisse has a unique “Family Office Hub” in Singapore that acts as an incubator for fledgling family offices helping them jump start their family office plans, providing both networking and educational opportunities, as well as back and middle office support. In recognising the needs of fledgling family offices, from governance to succession planning, from family business requirements to specific financing issues, Credit Suisse is a first mover among private banks to package these services effectively under one roof.
Although office space in the hub is not rent-free, it is a testament to the idea’s intuitive appeal that there is a list of clients waiting to be part of it. “The hub provides a physical private office space to host selected single family offices, creating a community where they can network and share ideas and best practices,” says Bernard Fung, head of Family Office Services
Singapore, Credit Suisse Private Banking Asia Pacific. “Back and middle office support is also provided at the hub such as operations to support the running of the family offices.”
Citi Private Bank
With roots dating back to 1822, Citi Trust has provided fiduciary services to generations of clients and administers over US$52 billion in assets in more than 11,800 trusts or other fiduciary structures for approximately 6,000 clients in almost 100 countries. Citi’s first international trust company was founded in 1960 and is one of the longest established in the industry.
Winning the Asian Private Banker – Best Private Bank – Family Advisory & Trust Services Award for its proven ability to deal with cross-border issues, Citi Trust has demonstrated its ability to meet the demanding requirements of wealthy families with consistent growth in assets under management. Industry feedback gathered during the course of the judging process was indicative of the bank’s expertise in dealing with the specific cross-border issues affecting Asian clients with “deemed” US tax obligations. Citi Trust offers estate-planning strategies, fiduciary and investment management services, and an open investment platform that provides access to top-tier third-party investment managers and maintains trust centers in strategic locations including the Bahamas, Jersey, Singapore, Switzerland and the US. 350 professionals globally bring together expertise from legal, accounting and insurance backgrounds to service Citi Trust clients, of which 25 dedicated team members are in Asia. Citi Trust Company in Singapore, which was established in the Year 2000 and is regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, was initially meant to service Asian clients but now it serves global clients from Singapore.
Michael Troth, managing director and regional head of Citi Trust in Asia Pacific, says, “We have had a trust company in Asia for over 50 years and are one of the pioneers in the region. We have 25 dedicated trust services professionals in Asia and the trusts business is an integral part of our service offering. Increased cross-border activity is making trust services increasingly important,” he says and this makes him confident about the industry’s future in the region. “Growth prospects for the trust industry in Asia remain strong. Wealth creation continues apace and that wealth needs investing, enhancing and protecting. The wealth management industry and the trust business in particular, will be a major beneficiary of that. Citi is ideally placed to service this growth with its strong local presence, which when coupled with its globalism, ensures that our clients receive best in class advice and execution,” he explains.
Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch
Discretionary Portfolio Management is regarded as the predominant model for private banking in most of Europe and although it is still to find wide acceptance in Asia, it remains the most coveted business model for many private banks in the region. Indeed, a majority of the industry believes the discretionary model is the inevitable way forward for private banks who want greater visibility and consistency in revenues and clients who want impartial advice.Being trusted by clients to take independent investment decisions is an affirmation of the quality of the bank’s service offering and the strength of its relationship with its clients. In one client’s words, it is “a multimillion dollar seal of approval.”
Lombard Odier has built itself a niche as one of few banks in Asia focused on the discretionary model and is the deserving winner of this year’s Best Private Bank – Discretionary Portfolio Services Award. Founded in 1796, Lombard Odier is the oldest firm of private bankers in Geneva. Its long history as a private bank focused on the discretionary model is one of the reasons Lombard Odier has been able to achieve a much higher percentage of discretionary assets under management than the industry average. Indeed, 50% of global assets under management at the bank are discretionary whilst 40% of assets under management in Asia are in discretionary accounts, a quite remarkable figure.
Clients who trust Lombard Odier to make investment decisions on their behalf put their faith in the firm’s independent, family-run partnership model and its seven global managing partners who are jointly responsible for all the bank’s liabilities to the full extent of their personal assets. Since it is a privately held company, not vulnerable to shareholder pressure or the constraints of operating in a large group with its accompanying conflicts of interest, Lombard Odier has been able to maintain a long-term vision which is an absolute prerequisite for success for a private bank employing the discretionary model.
“We are patient investors and not traders, wealth creation and capital preservation are at the root of our investment philosophy,” affirms Philip Jehle, head of Private Clients Unit at the bank.
- UHNWI Services
- Alternative Investments
- External Asset Managers’ Choice
- LGBT & Diversity Issues
- Philanthropic Services
Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management
Ultra High Net Worth clients are the ultimate testing ground for a bank’s commitment to excellence in service. These extremely discerning individuals are savvy investors, early adopters of technology and tend to be at the cutting edge of information and best practices. They are also the most consistently courted group of clients by all private banks. Hence to secure and maintain the trust and confidence of an UHNW client is the ultimate validation of the quality of a bank’s service.
Almost all the banks competing for this award had different definitions for an UHNW client but each of these banks has dedicated teams for UHNW clients that are the ultimate embodiment of exceptional service. These UHNW bankers have set the bar exceptionally high for client confidentiality, degree of customisation and the pace of innovation. While some banks have focussed on optimising the client-experience others have built a niche on providing clients with unparalleled access to innovative investment opportunities. The best banks have combined both.
Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management, this year’s deserved winner of the Best Private Bank – UNHWI Services, we believe, was the best in class. Indeed, its differentiation lies in its interesting definition for the UHNW segment – the bank’s top-50 clients in Asia regardless of the dollar-value of their relationship with the bank. “It is important to us that we keep this segment small,” says Anurag Mahesh, managing director and head of Global Investment and Key Client Solutions, Asia Pacific. “If we need to have senior people working on these accounts then we need to limit the size of this segment. Currently we have only 42 relationships in this category and I don’t see this growing beyond 50. At competition the same tycoon is one of 200 clients whereas at Deutsche Bank he is one of 42 so the experience is wholly different,” he explains.
Mahesh has developed a keen understanding of what Deutsche’s UHNW clients want, “Corporate needs and the availability of balance sheet [funding] is most important to clients in this segment,” he says. We at Asian Private Banker believe this understanding is a reflection of Deutsche’s innovative approach to UHNW banking and its commitment to a more relevant service offering for such clients.
Citi Private Bank
As private banks in Asia struggle to differentiate their product offerings in an increasingly crowded market, alternative investments have emerged as a crucial strategic advantage for banks with proven prowess and expertise in the area. Waning investor interest in traditional products and an increasing fascination for more unique investment options, particularly amongst the ultra-rich have made alternative investments de rigueur on the product shelf of most private banks in the region. Leaders in this space have honed their understanding of the complex nature of these products and their specific liquidity requirements. For private banks, the challenge has been to expand the market for alternative investments beyond institutional investors and re-package these products so that they are more palatable to high-net-worth individuals.
Citi Private Bank has proved itself to be a worthy recipient of this year’s award for Best Private Bank – Alternative Investments primarily because it has been able to leverage the strength of its 200-strong product development team in Asia to make managed investment products such as hedge funds, mutual funds and private equity opportunities available and more appealing to its private banking clients. A global team of 20 professionals does research and due diligence on hedge funds and a dedicated team of seven professionals focuses exclusively on private equity and real estate funds. “We do this so that we are picking the best of breed managers in the alternative investment space,” says Debashish Duttagupta, head of investments, wealth management Asia Pacific at Citi Private Bank.”We have steadily brought a stream of alternative investment opportunities to Asian clients and have a dedicated research team for alternative investments in Asia.
We have also managed to bring fairly unique private equity opportunities to our clients which they would not otherwise have access to,” he confirms.
In its naissance, an extension of the family office-model in Europe, the external asset manager business is now a reliable, repetitive source of revenue for private banks in mature markets such as Switzerland and the United Kingdom. In Asia, a few early-adopter private banks have used the model or a related hybrid for much of the last decade. Over the last year this industry subset has grown significantly in numbers despite a difficult market environment as a result of new entrants from both the asset management as well as the banking side of the business.
Private banks with established external asset management-derived business have increased focus on this area, with a greater number of banks setting up dedicated teams to understand and service the specific needs of these clients. The tougher economic environment has brought home the significant advantages of this business model for private banks: captive and growing AUMs, greater amortisation of fixed costs and greater visibility for revenue projections. Competition among private banks in this space has grown apace.
External asset managers seek to distinguish themselves from general financial consultants by the manner in which they look after client assets – free from third-party influence, with a very high degree of personalisation and with accreditation from the regulators. They also endeavour to set the bar high for professionalism and service quality and for this they depend greatly on their partner banks.
Julius Baer has a unique understanding of the requirements of its external asset managers who count on the private bank to help them achieve swift, economical trade execution and relevant research and is thus the deserved winner of this year’s award. Indeed, it exceeds the standard industry requirements and acts as a genuine partner with its external asset manager clients. With long-standing focus on its external asset manager business and a dedicated team of professionals, Julius Baer received glowing tributes from external asset managers who referred to the bank’s “flexible approach” towards and “long experience” in dealing with their needs as well as the exceptional quality of service they received.
UBS Wealth Management
Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT) initiatives are typically not very high on the list of priorities for private banks in Asia. However, with the fight to attract and retain talent intensifying, private banks in the region are realising that being “LGBT-friendly” makes good business sense. A fair and respectful work environment is essential for any business but in the service industry it assumes far greater significance since people are an organisation’s most important asset.
Innumerable studies have linked a fulfilling work environment and supportive hiring and progression policies to increased productivity. For these and more altruistic reasons, a number of private banks in Asia are creating diversity blueprints that articulate how their organisations will support a diverse work culture – whether it is through targeted recruitment drives, supportive maternity and paternity leave policies, increased understanding of same-sex partnerships and their implications on employee benefits.
Some banks are further along the learning curve and have already standardised their human resource policies to a globally accepted best practices standard. These banks have proactively reached out to their employees and tried to understand and address their needs regardless of whether the local law compelled them to do so or not.
UBS Wealth Management, the deserved winner of this year’s Asian Private Banker Awards for Distinction – LGBT & Diversity Issues, is one such bank – its diversity policy in Asia is perhaps the most robust manifestation of its global diversity drive. One of the few private banks in the region to have an explicitly articulated diversity program for the region, UBS has four regional heads for diversity globally and several bankers engaged full-time in diversity roles. It is also the founding firm behind the Hong Kong LGBT Interbank Forum which was established in 2006.
A similar initiative was introduced in Singapore in August 2010. When questioned about UBS’s focus on diversity in a region where the law does not require the bank to explicitly support LGBT employees, Hayden Majajas, head of diversity for Asia Pacific does not hesitate with his answer. “A diverse and inclusive workforce enables us to better serve our clients and to create an environment in which all of our employees, regardless of background, can contribute to their fullest potential,” he affirms. “There is still much more to be done and we are committed to harnessing the power of diversity and inclusion.”
As Asian wealth matures, an increasing number of the region’s wealthy are making philanthropy a priority. According to industry estimates, a quarter of high net worth individuals globally say charity is a top spending priority and the wealthy in Asia are not an exception – in Singapore individual charity contributions, which include philanthropy, have increased significantly every year since 2006. China, meanwhile, has seen explosive growth in private foundations, a function of both recent liberalisation of the sector and low public trust in existing charities. Along with this heightened awareness of and support for charitable causes, there is a definitive shift towards a structured and deliberate approach to giving. A large number of private banks in Asia have partnered with their clients to find the worthiest causes and the most efficient means to support them, often donating their own time and resources to do so.
Credit Suisse is a proven leader in providing clients philanthropic services in Asia and is this year’s deserved winner of the Asian Private Banker Awards for Distinction Best Private Bank – Philanthropic Services. The bank has extended its partnership with clients engaged in philanthropy to a deeper, more meaningful level and fully justifies its motto of “Going one step beyond just giving advice.”
As proof, Credit Suisse launched the SymAsia Foundation in early 2010 as a platform for philanthropic giving that offers potential donors a comprehensive and well-established infrastructure to realise their philanthropic ambitions and support their preferred charitable causes in an efficient manner. As an alternative to setting up their own charitable foundations, donors are able to establish individual foundations within the framework of SymAsia.
They enjoy exclusive naming rights and are able to determine the charitable aims to be pursued and the ultimate beneficiaries of their donations. With Credit Suisse absorbing all administrative costs, donors bear no start-up and running costs for setting up their foundations under this framework. While SymAsia is only one part of Credit Suisse’s service offering to clients interested in charity, we at Asian Private Banker felt that it was not only an important differentiator for the bank but also a commendable step in encouraging philanthropy throughout the region.
The gala dinner celebrating the inaugural Asian Private Banker Awards for Distinction got off to a roaring start as 100 industry leaders and senior bankers gathered at the Conrad Hotel, Hong Kong on the 15th of February 2012. Colleagues and competitors mingled and shared insights, perspectives…and some champagne.Kathryn Shih, UBS Wealth Management, this year’s Asian Private Banker of the Year delivered an acceptance speech that bore all the trademarks of the recipient’s style – sharp, perceptive, humorous, and a little sassy.