HSBC chases Asia’s wealthiest with new ultra-rich team

HONG KONG • HSBC Holdings plc is taking aim at the very richest clients in the world’s fastest-growing region for wealth.

The London-based bank is building an ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) team in Asia for clients with assets of about US$30 million (RM122.4 million) or more, according to Tan Siew Meng, Asia-Pacific head of global private banking. Hiring for the new business will be part of the bank’s plan to add 700 private banking jobs in Asia by 2022. Tan didn’t provide staffing details of the team, though HSBC has hired at least two veterans for the new unit.

Private banking in Asia is one of HSBC’s strategic priorities as CEO John Flint plans to expand in markets from Greater China to South-East Asia. Global wealth managers are counting on Asia’s richest to boost profitability even after they took a hit from the stock market meltdown in late 2018.

“If we’re going to be able to achieve the ambitious growth plans that we’ve got, clearly, we need to be able to address the UHNW segment very well,” Tan said in an interview in Hong Kong.

Gabriel Tam, who had worked at Bank of America Corp, was appointed Asia head of UHNW solutions to serve clients with HSBC’s products within its private bank and investment bank, HSBC said in an emailed response to queries. Erik Bergqvist, previously at Julius Baer Group Ltd, was hired as head of UHNW segment management.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc, Citigroup Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co are among the private banks already catering to the richest wealth management customers in Asia.

The number of Asian billionaires will rise 27% to 1,003 by 2023, making up more than a third of the world’s total, according to a report by Knight Frank LLP. The billionaire population growth rates for North America and Europe are 17% and 18% respectively.

Asia will also see the biggest relative increase in UNHW individuals (people with net assets of US$30 million or more). India leads the world with an expected 39% surge, followed by the Philippines and China, the Knight Frank report predicted. — Bloomberg