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Southeast Asia: Credit Suisse sets targets

Southeast Asia: Credit Suisse sets targets

Doubling Thai operations, opening a new office in the Philippines and serving Indonesian clients better are all on the agenda for Credit Suisse Private Banking this year.

The Swiss bank has been pursuing onshore wealth management in Southeast Asia as tax regularisations drive flows back home and capital controls ease, mainly looking at markets where it has an investment banking franchise that it can leverage.

‘We more than doubled our Southeast Asia business’ net new assets, while growing the profitability of our Southeast Asia business by more than 30% last year and potentially even more this year,’ said Singapore CEO Benjamin Cavalli.

‘We have continued to invest in talent in Thailand and you will see us confidently doubling our relationship manager (RM) workforce by end of 2018,’ he told Citywire Asia.

According to sources, the private bank currently has approximately 20 employees in Thailand. The team is supported by 200 specialists in Singapore.

The Thai outfit serves high-net-worth individuals with more than $2 million in assets under management (AUM), and ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) individuals with $50 million in AUM or $250 million in net wealth.

It also co-covers the top UHNW clients in Thailand through private banking and investment banking senior bankers.

In fact, the private bank recorded a seven-fold increase in client accounts and ten-fold increase in AUM in Thailand in 2017, doubling its RMs in the wealth management team, Cavalli said.

He attributed the AUM increase to a growth in the domestic Thai business as well as cross-referrals from the offshore team to the onshore team.

The bank is also planning to roll out new investment products for its Thai clients, where it offers around 70% of its offshore products due to regulatory restrictions on certain items like over-the-counter securities.

‘We have made successful inroads by further expanding our existing comprehensive product and solutions platform with additional offerings, which we are going to roll out in the first quarter and beyond. This will further close the gap between the offshore and onshore offerings,’ he added.

Last November, the private bank received approval from Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to set up a representative office in the Philippines. It is awaiting additional approvals, however.

Credit Suisse is one of the few private banks that has expressed interest in the Southeast Asian nation and Cavalli is confident that the Philippine operations will go live in the first half of 2018.

Beyond its onshore operations, things are starting to look up again for the bank in Indonesia, following close to CHF 2.5 billion in regularisation outflows from Southeast Asia as a whole. This was partly due to a tax amnesty programme in Indonesia in 2016-17.

On the tech front, Southeast Asian clients can look forward to the rollout of account aggregation tool Canopy beyond Singapore to Hong Kong and Australia, among other markets.

The bank will make further upgrades to Credit Suisse Invest, its digital advisory mandate, this year. This will include roll-out to new markets, additional multi-language capabilities, enhancements to portfolio analytics and more frequent portfolio quality reporting on the digital private banking channels.

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