Albert Chiu, executive chairman Asia Pacific, EFG Bank shares his views with Asian Private Banker in ‘The Final Word’, a year in review by the region’s private banking leaders as they share their thoughts and opinions on key issues around industry trends, business performance, investments, regulations, and technology.
Industry Trends | What is the single biggest challenge and the single biggest growth opportunity for your business today?
We have to be mindful that private banking will not be immune to disruption via fintech. Artificial intelligence is becoming more mainstream and is being adapted to investment processes and operations. As wealth managers, we need to keep up with potential challenges to our existing business models and develop innovative strategies to continue serving our clients well and staying relevant. We will need to invest in better understanding and anticipating our clients’ needs and produce solutions that deliver.
In Asia Pacific, we see that the transfer of wealth to the second and third generation is ongoing and rising. We need to continue to stay relevant to the needs of the millennial generation as their approach towards wealth may differ from their parent’s generation. Some millennials may focus on ‘doing good’ as a core philosophy, so there are opportunities in philanthropy and adopting the ‘Principles of Responsible Investing’.
Business Performance | Productivity and efficiency matter more than ever in this environment. Over the past year, what key steps have you taken to improve both the productivity and efficiency of the business and, to date, what has been the impact?
We have been working on the scalability of our expanded business by streamlining our business processes and by adopting technology to further increase and enhance overall operational efficiency. These efforts span across functions and geographies, including both external and internal activities. Several of these actions have already been initiated, improvements are ongoing, and they will continue to benefit our overall operational efficiency.
Investments | What are the key investment themes that your private banking will focus on in 2020?
A new year brings with it fresh perspectives and opportunities for our clients. We will continue to build a product shelf which is competitive, relevant, and compliant, and best serves clients’ myriad needs and interests.
2019 has been benign for investors, meaning that risks may become more apparent in 2020. We continue to see a case for equities over bonds, and the potential to broaden equity exposure from the US and growth equities, to other investment styles and regions. This includes Europe, where we are watching closely for prospects of fiscal stimulus to drive economic growth, and Asian emerging markets, which remain undervalued compared to the US. The US-China trade war and US elections will continue to drive market sentiment.
2020 should also be a year for diversification, where we will continue to offer a compelling range of managed multi-asset solutions, in order to mitigate risk in any single asset class, as well as alternatives in areas such as real assets, to promote more stable and differentiated returns. Also, if our outlook is right that volatility will increase over the next twelve months, our ability to offer tailored, structured solutions may increasingly come into play.
Regulations | How has your private bank responded to regulators’ increased emphasis on building proper banking culture?
For corporate values to be effective and to serve as guiding principles for employees, they need to be aligned to the company’s overall mission, vision, and value proposition. At EFG, we have a clearly defined vision: “We want to be a leading Swiss private bank that is renowned for its unique client approach”. This approach is translated in our client relationship officers’ strong focus on clients. In brief, our corporate values create a basis to improve conduct at work and help us safeguard our reputation vis-à-vis all our stakeholders.
The bank’s strategic direction is defined with the close cooperation of the executive committee, global business committee, and board of directors, and the board is very involved in our cultural programmes, contributing heavily to the formulation and definition of our corporate values. Having a healthy, compliant, and risk-aware corporate culture ranks highly on EFG’s agenda and is implemented through several group-wide projects.
Technology | If we can agree that effective private banking relies on banks having a deep understanding of client needs and behaviours, how are you leveraging tech and data to deepen this understanding?
As part of our overall digital strategy, we have been working on enhancing our existing services and solutions to improve the speed and quality of client interaction. Earlier in June, we launched our EFG Mobile Banking app to offer our clients secure, easy, and on-the-go access to their finances and overall financial portfolios.
This progressive implementation allows our clients to easily monitor their portfolios and assets through updates, access further information, and view all executed cash transactions. Within this technology, there is also the EFG Chat app, which provides clients a safe and secured channel to communicate with their client relationship officers. In addition, we are adopting automation and data analytics to enable our client relationship management teams to carry out more timely and efficient portfolio reviews and generate bespoke investment proposals.
Meet 2019’s industry leaders in the full round up of of Asian Private Banker‘s The Final Word 2019.