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Six private bank leaders we profiled in 2017

Presenting the cover stars of Citywire Private Wealth in 2017

With markets moving in favour, private banks in Asia were mostly helping clients steer through the haze of regulations, acquisitions and financial technology in 2017.

Against this backdrop, Citywire Asia spoke to six private bank executives last year to gain insights into their business strategy and plans.

In this gallery, we present the industry veterans who were the face of Citywire Private Wealth in 2017.

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With markets moving in favour, private banks in Asia were mostly helping clients steer through the haze of regulations, acquisitions and financial technology in 2017.

Against this backdrop, Citywire Asia spoke to six private bank executives last year to gain insights into their business strategy and plans.

In this gallery, we present the industry veterans who were the face of Citywire Private Wealth in 2017.

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Tan Su Shan

Managing director and group head of consumer banking and wealth management, DBS

A tech platform and the ANZ acquisition are some of the feathers in Tan’s cap as she begins 2018 on the right note.

Last year, the Singapore-based bank’s wealth assets under management grew by 23% to SGD 195 billion – thanks in part to DBS’ acquisition of ANZ in October 2016.

After successfully integrating the businesses in Singapore and Hong Kong, the bank was busy with Taiwan last November, in addition to planning the Indonesia integration slated for February.

‘It’s very complicated because it’s five countries, five different regulations, five different systems, five different sets of clients and five very different businesses,’ she said in November.

In the meantime, the executive also has her eyes on Amazon and AliPay as potential competitors and is ramping up the private bank’s fintech drive through its wealth platform, DBS iWealth.

‘I think the rules will have to change with the use of AI [artificial intelligence], robots and robo advice,’ she added.

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Pierre Vrielinck

Asia CEO, BNP Paribas Wealth Management

BNP Paribas is embracing onshore wealth management by setting up an Indonesia office as it enters 2018.

‘It may be right to say that regulations tend to push in favour of onshore activities. That’s the point of BNP Paribas Wealth Management. We have a unique proposition to be on both sides,’ Vrielinck said in October.

The wealth manager is banking on its corporate and institutional banking business in Indonesia to drive new money for the private bank through a cross-referral model.

The bank currently operates offshore wealth management activities in Singapore and Hong Kong, and has onshore offices in China, India and Taiwan.

Like his peers, Vrielinck is also eyeing hires and digitalisation as a way to boost margins and bring in millennial clients.

The French private bank launched 10 wealth management apps and a digital lab in Singapore in early 2017.

'The major lever is on the revenue side. We need to improve the profitability and manage costs too. But cost management is just good practice. Success is built around revenue and growth,’ he said.

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Siew Meng Tan

Regional head of global private banking for Asia Pacific, HSBC

About 70% of HSBC Private Banking’s new business in Asia in the first six months of 2017 was through internal referrals from other divisions, and the bank is keen to pursue that strategy.

‘In Malaysia, for example, our commercial banking business has teams covering the north, south, east and west,’ Tan said September.

‘We are organising our teams in private banking such that the relationship managers pair up with the different regions and collaborate with the commercial banking teams on the ground.’

The bank is also leveraging these connections in the rest of Southeast Asia and China to support its wealth planning businesses in Hong Kong and Singapore, as ageing entrepreneurs look to set up family offices to manage their offshore wealth.

‘We are the largest foreign bank in China and we have banked with a lot of these companies where they have overseas investments and are global in their business.

'That’s where our strength lies. That’s where we see opportunities with our commercial bank in China to serve the global needs of the Chinese wealthy families,’ Tan said.

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Srinivas ‘Srini’ Sripurapu

Head of Global South Asia Community and regional head of private banking, Asean & South Asia, Standard Chartered

Even while other private banks are making a strong move into China, Standard Chartered has been growing its focus on the non-resident Indian segment, following a strategic review in 2015.

In an interview last June, Srini said the bank was building its teams in Singapore, Dubai and London to better service Indian high net worth individuals and help them set up family offices.

‘Singapore is a popular destination, as is Dubai, because of proximity. Most of the entrepreneurs and promoters get their non-resident Indian (NRI) status, which gives them the flexibility to set up such offices,’ he said.

For its Singapore office, Standard Chartered hired four senior bankers from Julius Baer and a JP Morgan executive in the first half of 2017.

The private bank is also encouraging internal referrals from its commercial, corporate and institutional banking divisions.

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Wong Lee

Former South Asia head of wealth planning, Union Bancaire Privée

Wealth planners have been in high demand in the last two years with the OECD’s Automatic Exchange of Information kicking in, tax amnesties in India and Indonesia and increased scrutiny of trust structures.

‘Those clients coming from a regime where disclosure wasn’t something they were accustomed to, were asked to analyse their exposure. They were told to provide more documentary evidence of their tax status and banking transactions and to look again at their ownership strategies and plans for the future,’ Wong said last April.

She noted that Indonesians were starting to fine-tune the sophistication of their succession planning tools, using insurance policies while continuing to build trust structures.

In the meantime, Wong was also dealing with changes to the team following the integration with Coutts in 2016. Given that UBP doesn’t run trust companies, the executive said that the biggest post-transition difference was that they were now a pure advisory focused team.

Wong has since moved to Lombard Odier, where she is the Asia head of family services.

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Eddy Tai

Global head of technology and operations, Bank of Singapore

Indicative of the changing private banking landscape in Asia, Bank of Singapore’s acquisition of Barclays’ wealth units in Singapore and Hong Kong made headlines in 2016.

For Tai, who was also the chief integration officer, it meant executing client data and asset migration from Barclays over one weekend while overseeing a major fintech transformation exercise at Bank of Singapore.

‘So when the integration was over last year, we had actually implemented six major systems as well in one year,’ Tai told Citywire Asia last March.

This included Bank of Singapore’s first digital app for clients and relationship managers (RMs), an advanced portfolio management system, a new client onboarding system and a sophisticated FX margin trading system.

The Barclays integration was completed in seven months and boosted Bank of Singapore’s assets under management by SGD 18.8 billion.

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