Merrill aims to double Indian private client business

The bankÆs Indian subsidiary plans to meet the target by hiring 250 new staff over the next two years.
Merrill LynchÆs Indian subsidiary DSP Merrill Lynch has rolled out a plan to leverage its private client business in India. The bank plans to double the number of employees in its private wealth business in the country to more than 500 by the end of 2009. As a result, assets under management are expected to more than double in the same period.

At present there are around 250 people running the bankÆs global private client business in India, which has approximately 1,200 core clients. The franchise is managing $6.5 billion of assets, including a $2.5 billion non-resident Indian business. The bank says India is one of its largest markets in Asia.

ôIndiaÆs demographic and economic landscape is evolving rapidly, creating a new and unique generation of consumer wealth,ö says Rahul Malhotra, MerrillÆs head of global private client India, in a written statement. ôBy leveraging its global platform and local knowledge, Merrill Lynch is well-positioned to facilitate access to the next generation of products and services.ö

While the Indian economy is expanding at an average annual rate of 8%, the number of high-net-worth individuals has also been growing at between 19% and 22% in the past two years, according to the Merrill Lynch Capgemini World Wealth Report 2007. Merrill sees this as a good time to expand as India is liberalising its regulatory environment and the capital markets deepen. Non-resident Indians, with an estimated $1 trillion of investible assets, are also seeking more onshore investment opportunities.

Apart from expanding its workforce, DSP Merrill has also opened new offices in New Delhi and it is building out its franchise in North India. It is also increasing its range of products, services and geographical coverage across the nation.

ôIndia offers a wealth of new opportunities for both local and non-resident Indian clients,ö says Malhotra. ôMerrill Lynch is expanding to meet the growing needs of our clients who are increasingly seeking more sophisticated and innovative ways to invest in this market.ö

Merrill Lynch currently holds close to 90% of DSP Merrill Lynch. The subsidiary focuses on wealth advisory, capital markets and financial services, and it offers a wide range of products and services in India, including trusts, retirement planning, structured products and access to other global investment products.
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