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HSBC leveraging ‘UHNW strategy’ to institutionalise family office services

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HSBC Global Private Banking (GPB) is combining its UHNW solutions team and family office advisory to offer its institutionalised solutions to mega-family office clients.

Having always worked on the institutionalised investment solutions side, Irene Chen, global head of UHNW solutions at HSBC GPB, believes that it was her entrepreneurial spirit that inspired her to join the bank last year.

Irene Chen, HSBC

“UHNW is one of our strategic priorities, and we do that by providing institutional-level services and access, with a private banking touch. Our institutionalised platform is quite competitive and unique,” Chen told Asian Private Banker.

Chen currently leads a global team of experienced UHNW solutions specialists, with backgrounds from private banking, investment banking and corporate banking, which all work together to deliver ‘All of HSBC’ to the banks’ clients.

Institutionalised offerings

When Chen joined the bank, she developed a platform called Institutionalised Intelligent Investor, otherwise known as Triple I.

“We created [the Triple I] platform where we pre-select qualified clients within our sophisticated UHNW and family offices clients to receive institutionalised services and products at speed.”

Edith Ang, HSBC

While all UHNW solutions are made on a bespoke basis, Chen explained that, for instance, the bank is able to offer co-investment opportunities with HSBC to Triple I clients, which are traditionally only available to institutional clients.

HSBC also allows family office clients to access institutional coverage and services from HSBC Markets and Securities Services as well as Originate to Distribute, which provides UHNW clients with direct private financing investment opportunities.

“We own the client relationships: we know the client, we manage those clients, but prequalify them, understand them, trust them, and then offer them services which are non-private bank, non-traditional, institutionalised offering, and this is what differentiates us,” Chen asserted.

Professionalising family wealth

The UHNW solutions team is also a core complementary part of HSBC GPB family office services, where the families are evolving to a more institutionalised level.

“There is a need for families to professionalise their way of managing family wealth,” said Edith Ang, APAC head of family advisory for HSBC GPB. She explained that while Asian families are becoming more professionalised, it is also difficult for families to navigate the complex landscape on their own.

“When they formed the family offices, it’s still very much from a private side but they will also need access to platforms, solutions at an institutional level,” Ang said.

For HSBC, she said there is a lot of groundwork that needs to be laid when helping clients set up a family office.

“At HSBC, we have done a lot of groundwork, from frontline education to clients’ communications to ensure everyone is up the curve to offer a holistic platform that provides cross-bank solutions for our family office clients that require the service,” she added.

Chen illustrated how the offering works in practice with an example of Chinese clients diversifying away from one single share:

“[For instance], the family realised they have to diversify their assets and used a sophisticated family office set-up as a tool with a presence in both Hong Kong and Singapore. When they look to further diversify their portfolio, they approached us for private equity investment in the US and recently we visited Geneva together because they want to explore our EMEA’s capability as well as some commercial real estate opportunities. We offer international connectivity and bring out the best solutions to help them diversify their assets across geographies,” Chen highlighted.

Capturing wealth corridors

HSBC’s goal is to be a leading global wealth manager, and it is leveraging its wide footprint and the concept of ‘wealth corridors’ to achieve this.

“We are running the wealth corridor concept: the Middle East to Asia corridor; the Middle East to Europe corridor, where our base is in Geneva and Luxembourg. And then we have the Asia to Switzerland concept because of the Asia relevance., we want to continue to grow as Asia family offices look at diversification into multiple booking centres,” Chen said.

The bank has also recently hired a former Credit Suisse senior banker, Edith Wong, as head of the North Asia UHNW segment, to deliver HSBC GPB and ‘one bank’ offerings to UHNW clients.

“HSBC is very committed to invest and develop hiring talents. While I am more on the investment part, the new head of UHNW segment will focus more on frontline services for family office and UHNW clients.”

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