Rothschild attracts Audrey Zau to North Asia

The wealth management division of Rothschild has appointed Audrey Zau as its new head of North Asia. She replaces Alois Mueller, who recently left the firm.
Asia's AUM is growing rapidly
Asia's AUM is growing rapidly

Veteran private banker Audrey Zau has joined Rothschild's wealth management and trust business as its new head of North Asia, replacing Alois Mueller. 

Zau is an industry veteran, possessing over 20 years of experience in Hong Kong’s private banking market. She was most recently the head of wealth management for North Asia at BHI Investment Advisors, and before that worked at HSBC for 15 years as a senior director, Rothschild said in a statement about the appointment on Friday.

At Rothschild Wealth Management & Trust, which is managed by the Rothschild family as part of the wider Rothschild Group, Zau will continue to be based in Hong Kong, which along with a Singapore office accounts for the company’s physical presence in Asia. She reports to Richard Martin, chief operating officer of Rothschild’s Wealth Management & Trust division.

Martin admitted that locating a senior, respected individual to manage Rothschild's north Asia operations had not been easy, estimating that it took a year to locate and hire Zau.

"We needed someone who could understand international markets and the way we do discretionary portfolio management DPM," he told FinanceAsia. "At the same time we needed local language skills and a strong local affinity with deep local relationships. Audrey can bridge those two areas for us."

In her new role, Zau fills the shoes formerly worn by Mueller as the head of north Asia for wealth management for Rothschild. He joined the company from UBS in 2013, where he had been the head of ultra-high net worth individuals for several Asian countries. Mueller recently departed the company.

"Alois Mueller was previously the head of our Hong Kong wealth management business. He chose to leave the firm and remain in Hong Kong rather than taking up a role with Rothschild in Europe," said a spokesperson for Rothschild. "We wish to thank him for the valuable contribution he made to our business over the last two years."

Wealth Management & Trust is one of four main business units at Rothschild. The company remains a relatively small player in wealth management in Asia, although its name recognition, privately-held nature and focus on offering investment advice, wealth structuring and trust services to ultra-high net worth individuals has helped stand out in the region.

Martin said Rothschild focuses on differentiating itself from its wealth management rivals by offering mainly DPM services, which are managed from Europe. He believes this focus is gaining traction with very wealthy families in Asia.

"It's what they call their 'sleep well' money, or what in Europe might be referred to as a nest egg," he said. "A lot of Audrey's clients think like that and she does too; she tends to think medium- to long-term, and thinks of capital preservation in real terms.' 

Private bank industry experts estimate that only 5% to 7% of high net worth assets in Asia are managed in a discretionary manner, versus levels of over 30% in Europe. However, Martin believes this will grow, noting that Rothschild's assets under management are rising by 10% to 15% a year.

He declined to say how fast its Asian assets are growing, but notes that Asian clients account for more than 10% of the bank's AUM, a figure that is growing rapidly.  

Rothschild says its wealth management business has €21.6 billion ($24.45 billion) in assets under management, while its clients have an average €5 million in investable assets.

¬ Haymarket Media Limited. All rights reserved.
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