A survey of trends and developments in the global market, highlighting major banks and hiring news.
Lebanese financial group Bank of Beirut has announced the acquisition of Luxembourg-based Fortuna Bank, which will allow expansion in the Grand Duchy. The Lebanese banking group, which offers commercial, corporate, private, investment, asset management and retail banking, has already set foot in Europe, running offices in the United Kingdom, Cyprus and Germany. The management and 26-member staff of Fortuna Bank will keep their functions and continue to service local and regional customers. Fortuna offers a tailor-made banking service to clients and also funds real estate projects and offers investment services to a wide range of private and corporate clients.
Barclays started moving its European coverage private bankers to Dublin in anticipation of Brexit. Whilst some bankers have already moved, the rest will move in tranches up to March 2019. The bank is also expected to change the booking centre for several clients from London to Dublin. Most relationship managers have been offered a 30% hike in compensation. The move will not affect relationship managers who cover Swiss clients, as they are expected to be largely unaffected by the U.K’s decision to exit the European Union.
BNY Mellon Investment Management (BNY Mellon IM) has expanded it’s presence in Nordics with its first office in Stockholm, Sweden. The office opening will see BNY Mellon IM offer its suite of investment specialists to institutional and intermediary clients in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Iceland. The office is led by Johan Stromberg, head of Nordic distribution at BNY Mellon IM, who joined the firm in October 2017 and supported by Viktoria von Kunow, director of Nordic distribution, who joined the firm in June 2018.
Citigroup is planning to reposition some roles at its Southern European private-banking team from London to Madrid. The choice may reflect the fact that many of Citi’s executives in private banking are Spanish, including regional team leader Fernando Lopez Munoz who moved to Madrid from London earlier this year. His team also serves ultra-high net worth clients in Italy, Turkey, Portugal and Greece. The firm is planning to have its new broker-dealer in Frankfurt up and running by the end of this year in case negotiations break down without a trade deal or transition agreement. The bank plans to relocate around 150 roles to the new hub, many of which will be hired locally. Citigroup is also planning to relocate roles to offices in Milan, Paris, Dublin and Luxembourg. The Nordic and Benelux coverage teams are said to be moved to Luxembourg.
Credit Suisse has pulled out of South Africa after more than a decade as part of chief executive Tidjane Thiam’s revamp, quitting a country whose economy has slipped into a recession for the first time since 2009. Credit Suisse, which had around 30 staff at its Johannesburg office, re-entered South Africa in 2006 after leaving in the 1980s under pressure from anti-apartheid campaigners. The bank has now decided to close the office and terminate its physical presence in the region. The bank will keep offering private banking services for South Africas wealthy clients from London, Zurich and Dubai and its research teams in these cities will continue to cover selected blue-chip South African companies.
DBS, Southeast Asia’s largest bank, has announced that it is planning to almost double its Dubai private banking staff (from the current 11 to 20) in its bid to triple revenue for its operations in the Middle East by 2023, capitalising on a shift of investments towards Asia. The bank is joining Citi and other global lenders expanding wealth management operations in the region. The prospective client base includes wealthy Middle East business people, family offices and non-resident Indians, as the bank identifies a shift in investments for this client base to Asia, from previous preferred locations of Switzerland, USA and UK.
Deutsche Bank PWM has launched a multi-asset fund in Spain that applies a scientific approach to limit risk and take better advantage of the investment opportunities of the equity market. DB PWM I-A3 Portfolio-Plus 10 is a diversified and global multi-asset fund that protects the portfolio through the systematic analysis of probabilities and the implementation of permanent non-conditional coverage, which limits the potential loss to 10%. This strategy brings the possibility of increasing the equity exposure more than other investment solutions taking similar risks. The Fund is aimed at Deutsche Bank’s Private Banking and Wealth Management clients, with a minimum investment of €10,000. It invests worldwide in equities, fixed income, commodities and cash, including foreign currency transactions, and with a minimum time horizon of five years.
EFG International is relaunching its domestic Italian business and the bank has appointed Giorgio Angelo Girelli as the new head of its Milan branch, effective 01 December 2018 and subject to regulatory approval. Angelo Girelli will be responsible for relaunching and further developing EFG’s business with Italian clients, which the bank defines as an important strategic area of focus. He will report directly to Franco Polloni, head of Switzerland & Italy Region. Italy’s central bank had threatened to shut down EFG’s Italian offices early last year (Milan and Como), due to an investigation over compliance failings due to BSI. These were revoked at the end of last year when EFG decided to shut the Como office and invest in relaunching in Milan.
Swiss Banque Heritage and Sallfort Privatbank announced that they will merge as of January 2019, combining banks controlled for generations by families who prospered in commodities trading. The merged entity will manage 6 billion Swiss francs (4.5 billion pounds) of assets and operate under the Banque Heritage name. The number of Swiss private banks has fallen sharply over the last decade as lenders to the world’s wealthiest people contend with tougher regulations and a changed environment following a global clampdown on tax evasion. The combined bank will remain based in Geneva and employ 120 staff in Switzerland. Marcos Esteve, CEO of Banque Heritage, will be chief executive and Johannes T. Barth deputy CEO. Paul-Andre Sanglard, Chairman of the Board at Banque Heritage, will be Chairman of the combined entity and Carlos Esteve, the Founder, will become Vice Chairman.
HSBC profits rose 28% in the third quarter of this year, as the bank reined in spending and wealth management income picked up for the firm. The wealth management division’s profits were up 3% to $100m (£78m) year on year over the nine months to date. The bank seeks to expand its private banking business in Germany, with a focus on the ultra-high net worth segment, building a new team which will cater to entrepreneurial families and others with liquid assets starting at 30 million euros ($34 million). The bank targets EUR 30bn AUM. Last year, the unit collected almost two billion euros in new money while assets under management reached an all-time high of EUR 28.5bn. In Asia, HSBC Private Banking is planning to increase its revenues by $1bn by 2020, as part of a re-focusing by the global bank on its Asian origins, setting out to target Asian wealth by increasing its client-facing headcount by 65% over five years and a doubling of client assets in eight years. HSBC will focus on HNWIs based in Singapore and Hong Kong, as part of a regional effort that is starting to refocus on markets in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia also. It is allocating $100m in fintech development across the SE Asia region.
Intesa Sanpaolo Private Bank is opening a representative office in Bahrain, and it has just been granted a representative office license to Bank of Intesa Sanpaolo Private Bank (Suisse) to operate in the Kingdom of Bahrain, Switzerland’s Intesa Sanpaolo Private Bank (Suisse) was established in 2001 and is fully owned by Italy’s Intesa Sanpaolo.
J. Safra Sarasin has announced the successful completion of the acquisition of Bank Hapoalim’s private banking businesses in Luxembourg and Switzerland and the re-establishment of a physical presence in Israel. The acquisition includes the transfer of qualifying clients and their relationship management teams who are focused on private banking clients primarily from Europe and Israel. The Group’s growth strategy is also taking another step forward with the start of activities of J. Safra Sarasin Asset Management (Israel) Ltd, a company licensed by the Israel Securities Authority (ISA), together with the opening of a Representative Office, both located in Tel Aviv.
The Swiss private banking group is in the process of opening three new offices, and close in two countries. The bank will open its first offices in Belfast in the new year, and this will make the wealth manager the first Swiss bank to be permanently based here. It will require its clients to have a minimum of £1m to invest. This adds to the other UK offices in Leeds, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
The bank is also set to open a new representative office in Mexico and Manuel Torroella Velazquez will join from Monex Grupo Financiero to take charge of the unit. He has previously headed HSBC Private Bank in Mexico. Beatriz Sanchez, the new boss of Latin America at the Swiss-based private bank who formerly Headed the Latin American business for Goldman Sachs, has decided to refocus the bank’s Latin American growth strategy on Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. The firm has had a foothold in Mexico since 2015 through its stake in NSC Asesores, a local wealth management company. The bank is also in preliminary negotiations to launch in Miami, and intends to expand presence in Chile and Colombia through alliances.
Johannesburg is the third new location the bank is opening, going after high-net worth individuals. The bank will employ seven people in South Africa, five of which have been lured from local lenders including FirstRand Group Ltd. subsidiary Rand Merchant Bank.
On the other side, Julius Baer’s Panama and Peru offices are to be shut down following a strategic review of its Latin American unit by Beatriz Sanchez, that found the two countries unsuitable for building scale. The bank has not revealed any timeline for the move, which will impact six RMs as well as support staff who will now be transferred to the Bahamas, Chile or Switzerland and will continue to service their existing clients in Panama and Peru.
Business units-wise, Julius Baer has launched a new dedicated unit to cater to financial advisers and other professional clients. The division will be led by board member and current head of advisory solutions Philipp Rickenbacher, who will become head of intermediaries and global custody. He has worked with the company for nearly a decade, previously serving as Head of Structured Products.
In Japan, Nomura Holdings has announced that it has completed the investment in Julius Baer Wealth Management, a wholly owned subsidiary of Julius Baer Group, which was announced three months ago. Julius Baer’s name has been changed to Julius Baer Nomura Wealth Management.
Switzerland-based private bank Lombard Odier is expanding its services to the South African market, targeting clients looking to diversify their portfolios offshore. The bank will provide advisory and related services to the country’s high net-worth clients. It established a representative office in SA in June 2017 and was recently awarded a category one licence from the industry regulator which will enable it to provide advisory services. Each client in SA will have access to a dedicated investment advisor based in Geneva.
Maybank has partnered with Schroders’ Singapore arm to develop a range of specialist investment solutions that will tap into the growing wealth market in Malaysia. The first step in this collaboration will be the launch of two discretionary portfolios: Global High Dividend Equity Portfolio and Global High Conviction Portfolio. These portfolios will be managed by Maybank Asset Management Malaysia (MAM Malaysia), with Schroders Singapore as the investment adviser. As part of the partnership, MAMG and Schroders will undertake further collaboration projects in 2019 to co-develop solutions across other asset classes, including Shariah-compliant investments and private assets among others.
Natixis Wealth Management has announced the acquisition of Massena Partners, an asset management and investment consulting company serving UHNW customers with a 23-member team based between Luxembourg and Paris. This will help the French bank to develop its wealth management business in France and Luxembourg. Massena Partners will become a subsidiary of Natixis Wealth Management, that will keep its operative autonomy in the management of its customers and in the choice of its investments.
The trust arm of private bank Rothschild & Co is being bought out by its management. The firm is selling its wealth planning and trust arm to Richard Martin, a senior executive at the unit, and to an unnamed investor. Financial details of the move are not disclosed. A senior team from the trust arm will support Martin in the management buyout. The trust arm was the source of embarrassing head-lines recently when Switzerland’s regulator found it negligent in dealing with 1MDB funds in July. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter, and the trust is still to unveil a new brand for itself, but Martin commented that the trust business will continue to work closely with Rothschild following the split.
Santander is working on a deal with Julius Baer to acquire part of Julius Baer’s Latin American business. Under the agreement Santander would take over a portion of the Swiss bank’s client accounts in the region following a review period. Details are not disclosed at this stage but is understood the accounts in question are managed out of Switzerland and that the deal could be focused on Venezuelan clients. The sources were unable to confirm the size of the client assets that are under discussion. This is in line with Baer’s decision of no longer serving clients from Venezuela following a review of its Latin America business.
Schroders and Lloyds have confirmed the launch a wealth management strategic partnership in mid-2019, with Schroders running £80bn of the Scottish Widows mandate cancelled with current manager Standard Life Aberdeen, as James Rainbow, Co-Head of UK intermediary at Schroders, is appointed Chief Executive of the joint venture. In an announcement to the stock exchange, the groups said they are entering into a strategic partnership to create a “market-leading wealth management proposition” that will combine Schroders’ investment and wealth management capabilities with Lloyds’ client base, distribution and digital capabilities.
Lloyds will own 50.1% of the share capital and Schroders the remaining 49.9%. In addition, Lloyds will transfer approximately £13bn of assets and associated advisers from its existing wealth management business to the JV, and Schroders will transfer £400m from its UK wealth management business. There will also be a referral agreement in place to enable Lloyds’ customers to make use of the proposition.
Schroders can now offer global investment services directly to South African clients as it has been granted a Category 1 Financial Services Provider (“FSP”) licence. As well as an FSP licence, Schroders have a number of funds approved for distribution in South Africa by the FSCA. The regulator has recently approved a fifth fund, the Global Smaller Companies Fund, under its Luxembourg domiciled Schroders International Selection Fund (SISF) series. Schroders has been developing its South Africa business over the past five years and they have had a permanent presence in the country since December 2015.
Standard Chartered has launched a new messaging system for private and priority banking clients, who will now be able to interact with their Private Bankers to share banking-related and personal information within a new mobile application. With secure instant messaging, clients can start a chat while on the go to discuss their banking and investment decisions. They will also be able to do video and voice calls and conferences with their private bankers and RMs, and invite additional investment advisors or specialists as needed. In addition, there is a real-time file sharing feature for Standard Chartered’s investment publications and outlook notes, with insights customised to a client’s portfolio.
St James’s Place has announced that its assets under management topped £100billion, despite recent growing uncertainty in the financial markets. The FTSE 100 firm, which offers advice on investments, pensions and tax to wealthy retail clients, saw the net inflow of funds of £7.58billion in the nine months to the end of September, up 15% on the same period last year. The increase and client retention rate ‘strong’ at 96% took funds under management to £100.6billion (up 11% since the beginning of the year and 17% higher over a 1-year period).
Stonehage Fleming and Glenmede Trust Company have entered into a strategic alliance, which has already started, and will allow both firms to expand their respective client offerings and geographical capabilities. They both remain independently managed and privately held. The relationship will allow Stonehage Fleming to deliver international family office, trust, and investment services to clients of Glenmede in Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Glenmede to offer investment and corporate trust services to clients of Stonehage Fleming in the US.
Banque Syz is working on succession plans, and the sons of founder Eric Syz are both in line to take over the Genevan private bank. Eric, who is the current CEO of the bank he founded in 1996, has started planning retirement and succession. In April, Syz named Yvan Gaillard as his deputy, and his two sons have also both entered the family business: Nicolas Syz is responsible for market development of private banking, while his brother Marc Syz, a private market specialist, is back from Hong Kong and at the bank as a managing director.
The bank has recently announced a special project to target Swiss entrepreneurs to further strengthen the domestic market. The bank launched a private market fund arm roughly six months ago, a bid to make private equity more accessible to wealthy clients. Mortgage lending, which Syz began in August, is also part of the Swiss entrepreneur push, and the third pillar of the effort is in pensions, where Syz is teaming up with Liberty to help firms structure their pension obligations. The Genevan private bank recently tried to migrate onto an Avaloq technology platform, but the plan fell through. The bank is now planning to migrate onto Lombard Odier’s platform, but the change of heart unfortunately translates to a double-digit million write-down for Syz this year.
Although the recently announced third quarter earnings of the investment bank have been exceptional, the bank has confirmed it will stay committed to its wealth management-centered strategy for the next three years. But the bank is putting the unit through a strict cost cutting, although it did not specify specific measures yet. The unit must now save at least 250 million Swiss francs ($250.8 million) annually, compared to a 100 million francs target unveiled earlier this year. Targets stay the same: it wants to lift pre-tax profit by 10 to 15% annually, and win 2 to 4% in fresh funds (it recorded 2.3% in the third quarter).
The bank has recently withdrawn from Nigeria, closing its office in the country. It is left with only one office in the continent: South Africa. This has been confirmed with a statement by the central bank of Nigeria, which didn’t give a reason for the bank’s decision and mentioned no date of closure.
We mentioned in our latest market update that Switzerland is slowly re-establishing ties with the U.S. Juergen Wegner, a senior UBS executive in charge of Swiss Financial Advisers (SFA), a subsidiary of UBS which handles funds that wealthy U.S. customers bring to Switzerland, has recently mentioned that the bank is increasingly receiving money from the U.S., as clients look to diversify their investments in a volatile U.S. political landscape. UBS is currently the only Swiss private bank with extensive U.S. business.
Vontobel has acquired the US wealth management business of Lombard Odier for an undisclosed sum. In 2015, Lombard Odier was fined nearly $100 million (CHF100 million) after admitting that it had helped US clients to evade taxes and it was one of many to incur financial penalties. Vontobel, on the other hand, was able to prove that it had not committed any offences in the US. The bank is taking over Lombard Odier’s US wealth management and its Canada-based brokerage units. Each business currently manages around $600 million of client assets, bringing the total to $1.2 billion. The two banks have also entered into a cooperative agreement for Lombard Odier to recommend Vontobel to future clients who want wealth management services in the US. The deal is expected to be completed by mid-2019.
Vaduz-based VP Bank has reached an agreement to buy the wealth arm of Luxembourg-based Catella Bank. VP will pay 12 million Swiss francs ($12 million) to take on ten employees of Catella as well as 900 million francs in client assets, almost all from Europe. Part of the asset-based deal, which excludes Catella’s private banking arm in Sweden, is a distribution partnership between VP and Catella for funds and real estate. The deal is expected to be sealed by the end of Q1 2019.
Wells Fargo & Co is restructuring its wealth and investment management business to combine its two high-net worth operations, the private bank and Abbot Downing. The two operations will retain their current branding and offerings. As part of the plans, the bank will also create a new unit under wealth management for its direct-to-client products, Intuitive Investor and Wells Trade, while another new unit will cover lending, trust and mergers and acquisitions. The three new leaders (of the combined private bank and the two other new units) are yet to be named and will report to Jon Weiss, Head of Wealth and Investment Management.