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.