Today we announce the best Private Bank Country Awards for Achievement for 2009.
This year, we decided to publish our awards for the best private banks in each country in our upcoming September issue of FinanceAsia magazine together with our annual rich list, which ranks Asia's 100 wealthiest families based on dividend income. Be on the lookout for the September issue (which should land on your desk around September 15) for the rich list.
Bank of China
Bank of China opened its private banking division in 2007 and, in just two years, it has amassed a client base of around 8,000 wealthy individuals in a dozen cities. It is also living up to its reputation as China's most international bank by offering wealth management services in both Hong Kong and Switzerland. To fuel its continuous expansion and keep its products competitive, Bank of China has been on a major recruitment drive during the past year. Its targets have been private bankers both in China and Hong Kong. Some international banks have scaled back their China private banking operations, which left a wealth of talent for Bank of China to pick up. Fresh staff, combined with an already strong market position, should help keep the bank in pole position as the economy heats up again.
HSBC Private Bank
HSBC stands out for private banking not just in Hong Kong, but globally, as it is one of the three largest private banks in the world, employing more than 7,200 staff in 96 locations. HSBC Private Bank, together with the private banking activities of HSBC Trinkaus & Burkhardt, known collectively as Global Private Banking, had profits before tax of $1.4 billion and combined client assets under management of $352 billion as of December 2008. In Hong Kong, the private bank is one of the two major centres (the other being Singapore) for Asia providing investment services, family wealth advisory services, private wealth solutions such as wealth planning and protection, and traditional banking services. It is known as the private bank of choice among local clients, making it a clear winner for this award.
Kotak Mahindra Bank
The Kotak group is well-entrenched in India as a provider of financial services, with an operating history of more than two decades. The firm has been successful in leveraging this standing to a strong wealth management franchise. Kotak wealth management currently manages $2.86 billion of high-net-worth money, with a client base of more than 1,500 spanning entrepreneurs, business families and professionals. Clients benefit from innovation and customised solutions provided by Kotak's team of private banking professionals as well as access to the structuring within the bank and investment bank of Kotak group.
Government-controlled Bank Mandiri is the country's largest commercial bank by assets and serves consumers and businesses through more than 900 offices across Indonesia. Its AXA Mandiri Financial Services operation, which is a joint venture with French insurer AXA, offers financial advisory services, including an increasingly trusted and well-regarded wealth planning and management business. As an alternative to the well-established international banking names -- or to placing their wealth in Singapore -- local wealthy individuals choose the security, range of conventional and Islamic products and services, as well as the professional standards provided by Mandiri.
CIMB Private Bank
Battening down the hatches, CIMB Private Banking has turned its focus to long-term growth and improving customer service. During the year ending in April 2009, assets under management rose 0.4% to M$4.19 billion ($1.19 billion), impressive considering most global equity markets fell during this period. Showing their trust in the CIMB name, the number of clients also increased 21% year-on-year to 2,397 at the end of 2008. In addition, the bank expanded client services with new premium retail banking services at select branches and the CIMB Club concierge service.
BDO Private Bank
BDO Private Bank is the only dedicated private banking institution among the local banks in the Philippines and, although its runaway growth has ground to a halt during the past year, its assets under management and customer base have levelled off rather than declined. Needless to say, it has taken some impairments on its books but fee income growth remains strong and the bank beefed up its headcount during 2008, adding new relationship managers and wealth advisers. With an open architecture model, it offers a comprehensive range of private banking services to wealthy clients with a minimum of P$10 million ($210,000) to invest.
DBS Private Bank
DBS has had to compete for private banking customers with the big international banks that have made Singapore a regional hub for wealth management services. Yet, it has maintained a position in the top six for asset management, and the damage to the brand names of some of the global players means that it is a likely beneficiary, as high-net-worth-individuals seek a more secure home for their riches. DBS's growth during this decade has largely been driven by focusing on the lucrative and fast-expanding domestic market, which analysts reckon is worth around $250 billion. It continues to attract newly-rich Singaporeans, as well as non-resident Indians and Indonesians. Although DBS private banking provides its clients with the usual bespoke solutions to meet their investment needs, supported by a full range of products and services sourced from the bank's other operations, it is perhaps the solidity of its reputation that is its greatest asset during these insecure times.
Samsung Securities Private Bank
There is still no serious domestic rival to match Samsung Securities Private Bank for the range and quality of its financial advice and wealth management. It is a brand name recognised throughout the region, and one that is backed up by services, products and a team of qualified financial consultants who provide both advisory and discretionary investment planning. But the bank is not content to rest on its reputation, and has taken the lead in offering innovative and easy-to-use online services, without losing the personal touch. Its customers include the super-rich as well as those who have climbed over the threshold into the high-net-worth category, and it has retained their loyalty despite the turmoil in markets during the past 18 months. Polls continue to place Samsung well ahead of competitors, and its vaulted position is likely to remain secure for some time to come.
Chinatrust Commercial Bank
Chinatrust's diversified services and continued product innovation allowed it to retain its dominance with a 15% market share of clients who have more than NT$3 million ($92,000) of assets under management, which put it in a position to benefit from the recovery in the domestic stock market in the first half of 2009. Relying on strong sales of bancassurance and a pick-up of demand for mutual funds, the bank grew its wealth management fees by 60% in the first quarter 2009 from the fourth quarter 2008, and in the first three months of the year Chinatrust generated three times as much fee revenue as its closest competitor -- compared with 2.7 times more in 2008. As of the end of March, 313,340 customers entrusted their wealth management needs to Chinatrust -- more than twice that of any other bank. As part of its continued efforts to provide ever more tailor-made services, the bank has this year launched a new three-dimensional investor risk attribute prediction model that has been two years in the making and which is meant to ensure clients get an even better fit when it comes to asset allocations.