‘There have been many approaches to Asia in the last decade. Some people have chosen to overinvest and carry losses during that period. Our approach is to grow while making profits,’
Last year UBP took CHF 220.4 million ($231.9 million) in group profits, up 25% from the previous year. Total private banking AUM in Asia reached $14 billion, of which $1.2 billion is in funds.
The region recorded approximately 45% growth in assets in discretionary portfolio management and a three-fold growth in the advisory business. According to Blake, the asset management and private banking units in Asia together manage about CHF 20 billion in assets. The Swiss private bank has two offices in the region. Hong Kong looks after clients in Hong Kong, Greater China and the Philippines, while its team in Singapore services investors in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and non-resident Indians.
For the past two years, Hong Kong has been a strong focus for UBP. It hired three market heads and made other senior appointments, but the bank is switching focus to Singapore now.
‘We will see some movement in Singapore over the next six months,’
Blake said, adding that the hires will be primarily for the Singapore market, but other segments, such as NRIs, will closely follow in priority.
The executive expects to hire between 10-20 senior bankers across Hong Kong and Singapore in 2018, with the aim to bring in clients that keep over $10 million with the bank.
Blake said these such clients are already in the majority for the bank.
What’s more, in a bid to bring in more family office clients, UBP is also growing its wealth planning teams in Asia, and broadening the advisory proposition beyond insurance and trust to wealth planning for family offices.
Commenting on investment trends, Blake said the group is seeing client demand for hedge funds and other alternatives, in addition to interest in thematic investments.
As such, UBP is upping its alternative investment suite offered to clients in Asia. It recently relocated Geoffroy Troesch, a private markets specialist from the Direct Investments Group, from Geneva to Hong Kong. It currently offers actively managed certificates for themes such as autonomous and electric cars as well as millennial trends in IT, media, consumption and financials.
Blake concluded ‘I do think the [regulatory] balance is changing somewhat and there is more scope for the industry to refocus on clients. If anything,
'I think 2017 maybe was a watershed, where we increasingly have the opportunity now to become external facing rather than internal facing.’
CEO Private Banking Asia