28 October 2016
UBS leads the pack among Swiss wealth management players in Asia. Photo: Bloomberg
UBS leads the pack among Swiss wealth management players in Asia. Photo: Bloomberg

Swiss banks step up focus on Asia wealth management

Swiss banks are stepping up the fight for wealth management business in Asia as the region outpaces the Western world in asset growth and creation of new millionaires.

Boston Consulting Group expects private wealth in the Asia Pacific, excluding Japan, to expand by 9.7 percent a year on average through to 2019, more than double the rate in Western Europe, Reuters reported.

The burgeoning private wealth is prompting banks such as UBS and Credit Suisse to focus more on the Asian region, it said. 

“Everybody wants to be in Asia,” Andreas Brun, an analyst at Switzerland’s Zuercher Kantonalbank, told Reuters.

“It’s not a sudden thing but they suddenly talk about it as the main strategy.”

According to a study, Asia’s population of high net worth individuals grew 17 percent to 4.3 million in 2013, while their wealth grew 18 percent to US$14.2 trillion.

That compared with growth rates of 13 percent and 12 percent respectively in the rest of the world, the report noted.

High net worth individuals are defined as those with investable assets of at least US$1 million.

But turning Asian riches into profitable business is no easy task for wealth managers.

Asia’s super-rich are relatively more active in managing their wealth compared to their European counterparts, and tend to play banks against each other to get the best deal, the report said.

“Asia is a highly banked market,” Claude Haberer, head of Swiss bank Pictet’s wealth management business in Asia, was quoted as saying.

“Asians are willing to try out a bank but you have to explain what you bring to the table.”

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