Given that private banking is a new concept in Vietnam, how are you reaching clients?
We go out and find clients and sometimes they call us and say, æI have Vnd3 billion I want to invest in a professional way, can you help?Æ But a lot of the time, we have to explain the concept of managing money, explaining how we can advise people on how to invest money, make sure they understand the importance of diversifying investments, and help them execute the investments. It takes time for people to digest the concept of professionally managing money and it takes time for them to build trust in you.
Are you offering investment advice on products available outside of Vietnam?
No. We still cherish the concept of growth in Vietnam. So weÆre looking at bonds, equity and property here in the country. WeÆre not doing hedge funds, forex or derivatives because the market is just not there yet for these products here. WeÆre focussed on investing in Vietnam and helping grow VietnamÆs economy. The moment we have a doubt about the Vietnam economy though, we may think about diversifying outside of the country.
So what can you do that the individual investor canÆt do?
Well, take the case of equities. We make sure the transaction is safe û or as safe as an equities investment can be. We can check the liquidity of assets. We can study the fundamentals of the company which is something individual investors often donÆt do or donÆt know how to do. We can monitor trends in the market and if we think the equities market is going to have a hiccup and we think the property market is going to boom, we can move money. We did just that a few months ago, moving some of our clientsÆ money out of equities just before the market declined and we moved it into properties. You have to have a sense of the market and you have to do more than just read financial data û because if youÆre just using financial data, youÆre looking out a rear-view mirror to drive a car.
How many clients do you have? And whatÆs the threshold level for IPA to consider a person as a private banking client?
We have about 100 clients and we only started about a year ago. First we started offering the service to friends and acquaintances. We started building the business on a person-to-person scale. IÆm not sure how big this business can become, but weÆll invest in it as it grows. The bottom line is first we need more people in the country with money to invest. They then need to realise they need assistance. And they need to trust in professional services.
As for the amount you need to have to invest, that varies from bank to bank. For us, $300,000 would be the bare minimum.
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