Best Private Bank – Pure Play
Union Bancaire Privée
Some may point to Union Bancaire Privée’s acquisition of Coutts’ international wealth and asset management franchise in 2015 as the catalyst for the bank’s growth in Asia, but in reality, the strides that UBP has since taken are, first and foremost, the result of astute leadership, sheer hard work, and a single-minded conviction that success as a pure-play private bank rests on getting the fundamentals right.One should look no further than how UBP has transformed its business from one that was heavily dependent upon transactional activities into one that leads with advice and bespoke solutions. In practice, it has placed an inordinate emphasis on guiding clients into house-aligned fee-based solutions — whether advisory or discretionary mandates — with remarkable success. Today, over 70% of UBP’s accounts in the region include advisory or discretionary mandates, whereas three years ago, 70% of accounts were execution-only.
Moreover, UBP in 2019 continued to develop its bespoke mandates offering, including customised ‘institutional-grade’ solutions for private clients through the group’s asset management platform, leading to over US$500 million in net inflows into bespoke mandates during the year. This is part and parcel of UBP’s earlier decision to deepen its coverage of Asia’s UHNWs — a segment whose share of UBP’s Asia AUM keeps growing rapidly.
The importance UBP is placing on the upper-tier segments is clear from its decision to launch a wealth planning-led service aimed at helping Asian families establish single and multi-family offices. While in its infancy, the initiative has already produced two flagship deals, including one that demonstrates the bank’s ability to coordinate globally to execute. In addition, UBP established a corporate finance advisory referral panel and, in another milestone, upgraded its merchant banking licence in Singapore in 2019 to wholesale, thus enabling it to take on SGD deposits.
All the while, UBP has been prudent but effective in its approach to talent acquisition. This is a bank that believes in the importance of a high-touch service — and its track record of appointments over the past 18 months reflects this, including key hires in its North Asia business and, significantly, the addition of a chief investment strategist for the region.
The enhancements UBP has made to its offering and the strong uptick in the quality of the business it is conducting relative to a few years ago, invariably show through in the bank’s financials, which evidence a sustainable franchise with a healthy revenue mix, a good balance in business between its Hong Kong and Singapore branches, and a client book that is sticky and increasingly ultra-populated.
UBP is today a visible market participant in Asia with a genuine and justified ‘right to win’ on account of the quality of its solutions and servicing alone.
UBP is Asian Private Banker’s Best Private Bank – Pure Play for 2019.