Awards for Distinction 2017 – Best Private Bank – Pure Play



Union Bancaire Privee


Michael Blake

Head of Region and CEO Asia, Union Bancaire Privée

“At a time of rapidly changing market dynamics, we continue to see strong demand – from clients and practitioners alike – for a pure play wealth manager that can deliver customised investment solutions with speed and agility. Our mission at UBP is to meet that demand by providing clients with timely, tailored investment advice. We are singularly focused on this objective, are encouraged by the positive response we have seen in 2017 and will build on this momentum, working closely with our clients, in 2018.”

Winners rationale

In the short space of 18 months, Union Bancaire Privée (UBP) has emerged from the relative fringes of Asia’s wealth management industry to become a pure player to be reckoned with. The Coutts acquisition may have provided the Swiss bank with some scale in the region – Asia AUM initially jumped from around US$800 million in 2015 to around US$10 billion – but UBP’s most noteworthy achievement is surely the way it has used the acquisition as a springboard to achieve quality top and bottom line growth, all the while retaining the firm’s entrepreneurial and client-centric DNA.

In 2017, UBP recorded strong double digit AUM growth driven in large part by strong inflows from new UHNW clients and a North Asia business firing on all cylinders. Similarly, revenues have continued to increase on a quarterly basis, with average monthly revenues ballooning over 15 times post-acquisition.

But what really stood out to the Judging Panel was quality of this growth, epitomised by a marked increase in advisory and discretionary mandate penetration and a healthy mix between recurrent and transactional revenues, as well as an increase in profitability due in large part to platform optimisation and investments in new talent.

Banker productivity is also up significantly since the Coutts transaction, with UBP’s frontline today originating more UHNW relationships than ever before. At the same time, RM numbers have grown eightfold with an emphasis placed on proven experience – the average UBP banker in Asia has more than seven years of wealth management experience and over 30% of RMs have over 10 years service with the bank.

Of course, client centricity and a clear awareness of niche are crucial to building a successful pure play private banking business, and UBP in 2017 demonstrated how it effectively leverages its global network to deliver timely research, advice and solutions to private clients in Asia across all asset classes in an entrepreneurial and nimble manner. Special mention must be made of UBP’s pedigree in the alternatives space and particularly its ability to provide private banking clients with access to opportunities typically only available for institutional investors.

Thus, though these are early days for UBP’s wealth management business in Asia, credit must go to the entire UBP team for the astute and sustainable way it has gone about building and activating a private banking business that has a clear vision and that is already experiencing quality growth across all financial indicators.

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