Deutsche Bank targets Asia’s rich as Credit Suisse clients flee



SINGAPORE – Deutsche Bank aims to double private banking revenue from Asia in five years by ramping up efforts to attract the region’s ultra-wealthy, joining other firms seeking to pounce on opportunities created by the near-collapse of Credit Suisse Group.

The bank is targeting entrepreneurs with investible assets of at least €50 million (S$73 million), Ms Young Jin Yee, the lender’s international private bank head for Asia-Pacific, said in her first interview since joining from the Swiss rival in January.

“Our ambition is to double our revenue by 2027 with only a 30 per cent increase in our relationship-manager headcount,” said Ms Young, who spent about 20 years at Credit Suisse.

Everyone “has to do more with their clients”.

Marking her first 100 days at the Frankfurt-based bank, Ms Young hosted an internal town hall to launch the strategy on Tuesday in Hong Kong, while hundreds of employees across the region dialled in from Greater China, Singapore, India and Dubai.

The lender has been hiring senior wealth executives in Asia, given it is one of the fastest-growing markets.

As at 2021, Deutsche Bank ranked 14th on the Asian Private Banker list for Asia excluding mainland China, based on US$79 billion (S$105.3 billion) in assets, compared with the Swiss bank’s US$239 billion, according to the publication, which put UBS Group on top of that list.

Relationship managers at the time were 210, less than a third of the 680 at Credit Suisse.

Ms Young reports to Mr Claudio de Sanctis, head of the international private bank – which includes wealth management. He joined in 2018 after five years at Credit Suisse and a longer stint at UBS.

The pairing of the duo highlights Deutsche Bank’s ambitions to catch up with its Swiss and US rivals, which have long dominated the wealth industry.

Ms Young, 48, was No. 2 at the Swiss bank’s Asia wealth operations.

“We want to make sure that in the next five years and beyond, we are recognised as the best private bank for Asia-Pacific, the way we define it,” said Ms Young, a Singaporean, who is based in the city-state. “Size doesn’t matter. We want to be the bank that clients want to bank with, especially for entrepreneurs and their families.”

Ms Young’s strategy echoes that of her previous employer. Under former chief executive Tidjane Thiam, Credit Suisse was wooing rich entrepreneurs to manage their personal fortune and help their businesses with stock listings or acquisitions.

Additionally, Deutsche Bank has corporate banking operations that lend to businesses in Asia.

Deutsche Bank will have to compete with UBS, the world’s largest wealth manager that agreed to buy Credit Suisse in a government-backed rescue in March.

Among foreign banks, UBS dominates most wealth markets in the region, including Greater China and South-east Asia.

Other wealth managers with big Asian operations and headcount include Citigroup and HSBC Holdings.

In Asia, HSBC, DBS Group Holdings and China Merchants Bank are among firms gaining wealth flows from a market share loss triggered by disruption from the UBS-Credit Suisse merger, Bloomberg Intelligence senior analyst Sharnie Wong said in a report.

There are plenty of former Credit Suisse assets up for grabs.

The bank saw clients pull US$4.4 billion from US and European funds since the lender agreed to be acquired by UBS, according to Morningstar. The figures only include funds that report daily numbers and do not represent the full universe of Credit Suisse asset management.

Even before the hastily arranged deal with UBS, Credit Suisse had seen a steady exodus of top private bankers and a drumbeat of asset outflows, which topped US$110 billion in the fourth quarter.

Hiring plans

Deutsche Bank will not go on a massive hiring spree as part of this push, but will add selectively, Ms Young said.

Based on Asian Private Banker’s estimate of Deutsche Bank’s relationship manager headcount, a 30 per cent increase over five years would translate into roughly 13 hires a year.

Deutsche Bank is also reviewing whether to increase the minimum threshold of assets clients need to keep with the bank in Asia, Ms Young said.

The bank’s push for the ultra-rich means it is focusing more on clients with minimum €50 million of investible assets with the bank, or those with a net worth of at least €150 million.

Hiring has begun across the three core markets in Asia, which comprise North Asia, global and onshore India, as well as South-east Asia, said Ms Young.

North Asia is the biggest of the three, accounting for roughly 40 per cent of the bank’s assets under management in Asia-Pacific.

South-east Asia

Mr Johanes Oeni, a former managing director at Credit Suisse, started in April to ramp up South-east Asia, the smallest among the three regions in terms of assets and revenue for Deutche Bank.

Mr Oeni was the Swiss bank’s most senior private banker for Indonesia.

Ms Young said she is hiring for the South-east Asia team but declined to spell out the number of headcount planned for the year.

“Growing for the sake of growing to be on the league table, then things can fall through the cracks,” she said. “That happens when you try to grow at all costs.”

Image by: AFP



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Edmund Shing, PhD

Global Chief Investment Officer
BNP Paribas Wealth Management

Edmund has over 29 years of experience in financial markets in a wide variety of positions, ranging from proprietary trading to portfolio manager in a number of financial institutions in London and Paris.  He previously held the role of Global Head of Equity and Derivative Strategy at BNP Paribas in London from 2015 to 2020, and has been Chief Investment Officer at BNP Paribas Wealth Management since November 2020.

Edmund is responsible for piloting our investment strategy and will continues to rollout out recommendations and themes with actionable advice that brings our expertise to our clients and support to our client-facing teams.  In this time of change, his expertise in following and anticipating markets is a true value added for both our customers and those at Wealth Management who serve them.

Edmund has a PhD in Cognitive and Computing Science from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, and has done advanced studies in Knowledge-Based Systems and in Experimental Psychology.  He is an EFFAS-certified financial analyst. He has also authored the book “The Idle Investor” published by Harriman House in 2015, proposing 3 simple investment strategies that take only a few minutes to execute per month.

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