HONG KONG, Oct 11 (Reuters) – Swiss private bank Union Bancaire Privée (UBP) is set to expand its Asia wealth management team’s headcount by 50% this year, betting on growth opportunities driven by the increase in affluent investors, its regional chief executive told Reuters.
The bank has already met two-thirds of the hiring target so far, said Michael Blake. UBP, founded in 1969, manages around $153.12 billion worth of assets, with Asia accounting for 14% of the total, according to its disclosures.
Most of the new client relationship managers will be based in Singapore, while the rest will be in Hong Kong, Blake said. UBP does not disclose the wealth manager headcount in the region. By end-2022, it had a global workforce of around 1,960 people.
The increase in the number of affluent and high net-worth investors in Asia has eclipsed that of peers in other regions, and that growth is likely to continue through 2026 and beyond, according to an Accenture report released in August.
The number of single-family offices in Singapore grew to 1,100 at the end of last year from 400 in 2020, data from its central bank showed.
“UBP wants to continue to grow clients in both North and Southeast Asia regions,” Blake said.
While the new hires in Hong Kong will cover Greater China and the Philippines markets, the team in Singapore will serve clients from the domestic markets, as well as those from the neighboring southeast and south Asian markets, he added.
UBP has two offices in China, one in Shanghai and the other in Haikou in the southern Hainan province. The rest of its Asia presence spans Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, and Taiwan.
The Geneva-based bank manages a program in China called QDLP, or Qualified Domestic Limited Partnership, via its Haikou office, which allows Chinese clients to invest in offshore assets.
The program has been popular among wealthy Chinese onshore clients amid rising demand to diversify their assets, said Blake, adding that UBP would apply for a new quota as soon as the current $150 million quota runs out.
Over the last few years, Chinese clients were mainly focused on the domestic market with products that included local firms promising guaranteed returns, and private equity investment opportunities tied to the booming Internet companies.
“I do think that’s changed a bit now,” Blake said, citing a new generation of wealthy individuals who are more familiar with global opportunities and are looking to navigate geopolitical challenges and the recent weakness of the renminbi.
Despite the slowing economic growth in the world’s second-largest economy, demand for services is also being fuelled by a strong desire by wealthy Chinese individuals to set up family offices in places like Singapore and Hong Kong, Blake said.
Image by: UBP