BNP Paribas Private Bank's global head of private banking, Francois Debiesse says Asia is "the most attractive area of the world in terms of growth potential [in private banking assets]".
He adds that it is "just a matter of time" before Asia overtakes Europe in terms of assets under management.
BNP Paribas Private Bank, the world's 10th biggest private bank by assets under management, estimates that Asian wealth will grow 10% in 2004 and is bullish on the region's prospects.
Asia has 1.8 million high net worth individuals, which represents 25% of the world's total. Moreover affluent households'(defined as having $250,000 or more) have assets under management in Asia just shy of $10 trillion, meaning that if next year's estimate is correct, almost a trillion will be added to the total.
Affluent household assets in Europe are $10.3 trillion and $16. 2 trillion in North America.
BNP Paribas reckons that Asia's growth as a private banking market is assured not only by the region's growth but also by the fact that penetration of high net worth individuals by private banks is very low. It estimates that only one in four Asian high net worth individuals uses a private bank.
"Our intuition is to focus on developing our business in Asia," says Vivien Levy Garboua, who heads BNP Paribas Asset Management and also sits on the executive board.
Currently, 88% of BNP Paribas Private Bank's client base is in Europe and its assets under management in Asia amount to $10 billion.
Debiese also says that Asia is once again becoming an interesting destination for the capital of European private clients too. With Asian equity markets moving up, he says, "clearly our European clients see Asia as a new opportunity."
The bank now feels that with a global recovery underway, equities will outperform bonds at least till the second half of 2004.