A survey of trends and developments in the global market, highlighting major banks, wealth managers, and hiring news.
ABN Amro has enhanced private and corporate banking operations with the implementation of Temenos WealthSuite, to deliver the bank’s personalised offerings quicker to market and achieve an improved cost/income ratio. Temenos’ WealthSuite has been implemented in Belgium, and plans are for a broader rollout.
The bank also started offering a new mobile wealth management app called Kendu to its clients, powered by Sopra Banking Software. The app will allow wealth management clients to arrange a whole range of investments and will suggest options to reach individual financial goals.
British Qatari-controlled Al Rayan Bank is being investigated under formal review over its money laundering controls by the FCA, after 15 controversial entities emerged among its clients, four of which have had their UK accounts closed by other banks in the UK. This includes groups accused of links to extremists including Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. It is believed that the investigation was launched last year and has led to restrictions placed on the bank preventing it from opening new deposit accounts for anyone “categorised as high risk for the purposes of financial crime risk”. Al Rayan is the oldest and largest Islamic bank in the UK, with more than 85,000 customers and an asset book in excess of £2.05 billion.
Bank of Singapore continues to grow fast in Asia. Its discretionary portfolio management offering has been one of the most successful products, which saw total assets grow by 40% over the last two years. AUM in discretionary totaled $7.7 billion at 2018-end. DPM penetration of the bank’s total AUM was also up from 6.7% in to 7.5% in 2018, in line with the private banking industry in Asia where DPM penetration is on average less than 10%.
Greater China has been one of the best performing markets for the bank, under the guidance of Derrick Tan. AUM from the region nearly tripled in five years (2013 – 2018) and revenue grew 2.8 times, due to a major expansion drive and a client-oriented focus, particularly on lifestyle.
Neuchâtel-based private bank Bonhôte has launched a new impact fund, The Bonhôte Impact fund, with a focus on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The fund is overseen by Valentin Girard, Head of Impact Investing, and it invests in companies that are working to find solutions for climate change, supporting economic development in disadvantaged regions, protecting natural resources and promoting access to health and education.
The Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son Limited has completed the acquisition of the Channel Islands-based banking subsidiary of ABN AMRO Bank, following receipt of regulatory approvals. ABN AMRO CI has been renamed Butterfield Bank Channel Islands Limited (BBCI), and over the next year Butterfield anticipates that BBCI will be fully integrated with Butterfield Bank Guernsey, which has operated in the Channel Islands for more than 45 years, and all clients will be served by the combined bank.
Brewin Dolphin has completed the acquisition of Bath firm Epoch Wealth Management, initially announced in April, through which it has launched its new presence in Bath. The office is headed by Epoch’s former managing partner, Barry Newbury, who moved to Brewin Dolphin with 36 other employees. Epoch manages £500 million in client assets. Brewin made a £10 million initial payment for the firm, with a further £9 million payment subject to performance.
C Hoare, the UK’s oldest private bank, posted pre-tax profit of £32.5 million, up from £25.9 million year-on-year, for the 12 months to the end of March. Income rose 17.1% to £123.5 million, with deposits up 7.8% to £4.4 billion and its loan book growing 2% to £1.7 billion. The bank says it is focused on cost control, while continuing to invest. Costs rose from £74 million to £83.5 million year-on-year, driven by further investment in the business, including its first regional branch in Cambridge.
Asset under management in the RBS-owned private banks, Coutts and Adam & Co, rose 10% in the first half of the year, reaching £28.9 billion. £1.9 billion was down to positive investment performance, with all its portfolios in the top quartile over three and five years, and £0.2 billion was acquired in net new business. Profits for the combines firms remained ‘steady’ year on year at £155 million, with revenue up 1% and operating costs down 3%. According to Coutts’ CEO, Peter Flavel, a key strategy is to increase the number of new clients referred to the bank from the NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland franchises.
Banque Cramer posted a loss of CHF 2.8 million in the first half of 2019, due to a slump in trading and commissions. This compares with a profit of CHF 5.8 million at mid-2018 (although the profit was mainly due to the divestment of a stake). Despite being loss-making, it is reported that the bank paid a dividend to its sole shareholder, Norinvest, for an amount of CHF 15 million. The bank has been struggling to find a viable business model and continued to lose employees Asset Management. Total funds under management rose to £42.4 billion at Q1 2019.
Commerzbank offices in Frankfurt were recently searched by German authorities, as they continue investigations into the Cum-Ex scandal involving multiple global lenders, including Bank of New York Mellon Corp, Societe Generale SA and Deutsche Bank AG. Deutsche’s headquarters were also raided last year with the same reason, as well as being searched a few weeks ago. The Cum-Ex transactions, spawned from various forms of dividend stripping, relied on the sale of borrowed shares just before a company was scheduled to pay dividends. This allowed more than one investor to claim a refund on a tax that was normally paid only once, effectively double-dipping at the expense of the state.
Credit Suisse has announced the creation of a new business area called Direct Banking, within its Swiss arm Swiss Universal Bank (SUB). This new area focuses on private and commercial clients who use core banking products and will combine digital solutions with personal advice. It will employ around 500 and will be headed by Mario Crameri, who previously worked as head of IT and operations at SUB. The bank is also separating the Swiss Investment Banking division of Credit Suisse in Switzerland, removing it from the Corporate and Investment Banking segment and instead managing it as its own business area, which will continue to be led by Jens Haas.
Credit Suisse and its Qatari shareholder (Qatar Investment Authority) are expanding their presence in the Middle East through their joint wealth management venture Aventicum Capital Management. The business has agreed to buy the management of selected funds and mandates from Amwal, a Qatar-based wealth manager. The funds include stock and bond investments and products that conform with sharia rules; and they will be sold to local, regional and international investors.
Under the guidance of Marisa Drew, Credit Suisse’s CEO of Impact Advisory and Finance (IAF), the bank continues to grow and invest in the IAF team, in a bid to champion the transition of financial markets to more sustainable investing, as well as investing with the intention to generate positive, measurable social and environmental benefits.
DBS has set a target to increase its assets under management (AUM) in the wealth business to S$300 billion ($218.04 billion), up from S$234 billion at present, by 2023. The wealth business currently makes up 20% of the group’s total income, and the target is to grow by 7 – 8% per annum to reach the desired AUM. According to Sim Lim, Group Head of Consumer Banking and Wealth Management, DBS will continue to invest to increase their wealth asset base in North and South Asia, with Indonesia being one of the main targets.
Thailand has also been a focus for the bank, where it plans to double its AUM (currently approaching $3 million) and relationship manager headcount by 2023. DBS has been operating in the country through its wholly-owned subsidiary, DBS Vickers Securities (Thailand), offering onshore wealth management services, including funds, equities, structured notes and bonds to clients. It is now working more closely with the Private Bank division in Singapore to provide a global offering and access to offshore investment products to its clients.
Deutsche Bank has started a radical restructure through which it will exit its equities business and cut the workforce by a fifth to reverse a slide in profitability. Dividends for 2019 and 2020 have been cancelled and the bank is forecasted to spend up to €3 billion in 2Q and €5.1 billion over 2019 in restructuring costs. The job cuts were larger than expected, with 18,000 roles made redundant, mainly across equities trading.
While cutting back on investment banking, the bank sent clear signals of being investing in its wealth management division led globally by Fabrizio Campelli. It has announced that it plans to hire 300 more relationship and investment managers across its America, Europe and Emerging Markets regions by 2021, in a bid to chase more stable revenues. Deutsche’s wealth business had 213 billion euros ($242.35 billion) in AUM in the first quarter of 2019, up by €14 billion euros from the end of 2018.
Specifically, the bank has deployed resources towards its wealth management arm in India that received a €470m ($541m) capital injection earlier this year. It is actively looking to hire 20 staff for its wealth unit, most of which will be front office relationship managers. It will also look to launch an onshore discretionary portfolio management service.
Deutsche Bank Wealth Management has picked Finantix, a leading supplier of transformational software to the banking industry, for AI-based KYC processing to enhance the bank’s client onboarding and KYC processes while strengthening the due diligence process. The software has been implemented in Germany and will next go live in the US.
The bank has agreed to pay US $16 million to settle allegations that it hired unqualified relatives of powerful Russian and Chinese government officials to win business. The SEC claimed that the hiring of poorly qualified relatives was in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The bank did not admit or deny the findings under the settlement.
Edmond de Rothschild has acquired a 34% stake in independent asset management firm ERAAM, a prominent French player in quant fund management founded in 1998, in order to expand its investment solutions to incorporate quantitative techniques. ERAAM focuses on “seeking absolute performance through factor management using a proprietary, disciplined and transparent approach”. Edmond de Rothschild will in turn provide ERAAM with commercial and management expertise to help accelerate growth.
Falcon’s CEO Martin Keller is attempting to rebuild management following an exodus of employees. At the same time the bank, having pursued a sale this spring and then abandoned it in May, is believed to be now resuming the process of looking for a buyer/buyers, in a project dubbed “Phoenix” internally, that is being managed by Deloitte. The ongoing regulatory proceedings over 1MDB have been hampering a sale.
Goldman Sachs has plans to grow its European wealth business, hiring wealth advisers in Switzerland, Germany and the UK to increase the number from 250 currently to 350 front office roles in the next few years, who will be managing the wealth of individuals with disposable assets of at least $30 million. According to Stefan Bollinger, Co-Head of Private Wealth Management EMEA at Goldman, the bank currently has just 1% of the market for UHNW individuals in Europe which is a $7 trillion business.
The bank, who was reportedly close to entering the Swiss mortgage lending market at the mid-end last year, is believed to be soon going ahead with it. Goldman executives are in talks with Swiss financial regulator Finma for a plan to ramp up its mortgage business later this year. Goldman will not seek to compete with retail lenders but could partner with platforms which sell mortgages, similarly to the mortgage business it started in the Netherlands in 2015, where mortgages are granted only to solvent clients with a low likelihood of default. The bank will put up financing for loans, which are in turn securitized and can be sold to institutional investors as residential mortgage-backed securities.
In Asia, the wealth management arm of the bank has registered a 25% growth in its discretionary assets, as the bank continues to invest and expand its offering for Asian clients. This has been driven by the focus on a «core-satellite» approach, splitting assets into two major pools: one with the majority in stable, long-term holdings for broader returns, the «core»; and the other in smaller tactical and short-term investments such as a three-month FX trading idea, or «satellites». The ratio is a 70/30 split on average.
The bank has completed six months of private equity and debt funding for its first private equity ‘Vision’ fund, raising over $250 million (S$338.8 million) globally, with nearly half of the capital from clients in Asia. It is the first of a new program of annual Vision funds, catering clients looking for diversified private equity solutions through a single and well diversified portfolio. Each portfolio is constructed from a set of core funds, along with a variety of thematic funds and direct co-investment plays. It was co-created by HSBC Private Banking and HSBC Alternative Investments Limited.
HSBC has reiterated the key importance of the MENA region for the bank, with a target to increase its MENA client book by 50% in the coming years and achieve “double-digit revenue growth” according to António Simões, Global CEO of HSBC Private Banking. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the key target markets, and the bank also sees large potential for MENA investors in Asia, including China.
In Europe the bank is to cut 32 jobs at its Luxembourg base as a result of the reorientation of commercial strategies and the outsourcing of some activities, mainly across middle and back office. In Switzerland the bank suffered a €300 million euros fine to settle a tax fraud case in Belgium, settling allegations that the bank used offshore companies to avoid paying EU taxes.
Itaú Private Bank is now offering an offshore platform for its Colombian client, giving them access to the US offshore market for the first time. This means Colombian clients can now open offshore accounts in the US through the Miami-based private banking branch, giving clients access to Itau’s offshore investment platform which includes investment products and wealth management services. This is part of a larger growth plan for the Latin American market. Itaú entered Colombia in 2016 following the private bank’s merger with Chile’s CorpBanca.
JPMorgan won a bid to buy a further 2% stake in its Chinese asset management joint venture China International Fund Management (CIFM), now holding a majority stake in the JV rising from 49% to 51%. This follows China’s decision in 2017 to open the wealth management industry to foreign competition, and last year’s decision to end restrictions on foreign ownership limits (a year before the scheduled date). UBS, Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley have all since then increased their stakes in Chinese JVs to a controlling level too.
J. Safra Sarasin has officially opened an office in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, which will operate as a branch of Banque J. Safra Sarasin (Luxembourg) SA and is led by Marvin Kreuger, who joined the bank from ABN Amro at the end of last year. The move confirms J. Safra Sarasins’ commitment to the Dutch market, which the bank intends to expand and develop further. The Dutch branch reports to Jules Moor, CEO of Banque J. Safra Sarasin Luxembourg.
After a strategic review of Julius Baer’s Italian wealth management subsidiary Kairos, for which the bank was earlier considering a sale, the bank decided to keep Kairos and try to improve its profitability. Julius Baer had put Kairos under strategic review after it suffered outflows on the heels of poor fund performance in 2018; but these remarkably improved in the first half of 2019. Kairos’ AUM is over €9 billion euros, and the firm is now open to consider acquisitions in Italy.
The bank has recently signed a deal with London-based advisory firm Alpima for a customized platform that uses data science and technology to build portfolios and run money, connecting research, production and sales within an organization. Alpima claims to help productivity at client firms by drastically reducing manual processes with a number of activities.
With the raise of £80 million ($98.7 million) in new funds, through the issue of convertible shares to investment company Pollen Street Capital, wealth management firm Kingswood is planning to launch a business in Asia. The firm has reportedly entered into ‘exclusive discussions’ to acquire a firm in Singapore that will allow Kingswood to enter the Southeast Asia market. This builds on the acquisition of Sheffield-based financial planner WFI Financial earlier this year, which brought its assets under management and advice at £2.5 billion.
LGT bought a majority stake in wealth management firm Validus Wealth to obtain a foothold in India’s growing market for high-net-worth private clients. Validus Wealth, formerly known as WGC Wealth, employs more than 150 staff and is present in nine Indian cities including Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru. It will soon become more aligned to the LGT brand and offer investment advisory, portfolio management, research, and wealth planning services.
The bank has recently announced that it will take over Indian impact investor Aspada, in line with its efforts to broaden its impact investing strategy, which is a source of booming revenue for LGT. Aspada currently manages $100 million in companies in food supply chains, healthcare, education, and financial services in India. The aim is social progress coupled with commercial capital, on a large scale.
LGT is also entering the onshore market in Italy and is looking to open an office in Milan. The office will be led by Andrea Cingoli, a Banca Esperia and UBS veteran, who will also assume the role of Chairman of the Board of Directors of LGT Italia together with Andrea Lorenzo Bergamini and Giorgio Hassan who will also become members of the board.
Half year results of LGT revealed a healthy CHF 215.0 billion in global AUM, up 8% compared to the previous year.
Lombard Odier has been further strengthening its sustainability offering with two recent senior hires that will allow the bank to develop the segment further. Dr. Christopher Kaminker and Ebba Lepage have joined as Head of Sustainable Investment Research & Strategy and Head of Corporate Sustainability respectively. They are both experienced professionals with strong track record in the field of sustainable finance. The aim is to bolster the bank’s research capabilities across sustainable investments and advance its integrated sustainability solutions, giving clients access to companies that adopt such business models and practices.
Maybank has launched its wealth offering in the Philippines with the opening of a “Maybank Premier” branch in Manilla. It will target high net worth individuals in the country with wealth advisory solutions, to capitalize on Southeast Asia’s growth trajectory, of which the Philippines is one of the fastest growing economies.
Merrill is upgrading its reporting tools for its private banking clients by becoming the first wirehouse to adopt the turn-key asset management platform’s RIA tools, a technology platform that financial advisers, broker-dealers, insurance companies, banks, law firms, and CPA firms can use to oversee their clients’ investment accounts. To do so, the bank has partnered with Envestnet to supply the firm’s Tamarac platform to more than 200 advisory teams. The RIA-focused technology specializes in portfolio management, reporting, trading, rebalancing and client portal solutions, and will allow UHNW clients who hold assets with multiple custodians to have a holistic view of their financial situation.
Mirabaud Group has obtained an A+ rating for its PRI scoring (Principles for Responsible Investment), achieving the highest rating in each of the considered categories, and an improvement from last year’s score. Mirabaud has been active in the field of sustainable investing for years and has taken measures to strengthen and enhance its ESG approach across the whole Group in recent years.
The bank registered a profit of CHF 26.1 million Swiss francs ($26.6 million) in the first six months of 2019 compared with CHF 29.9 million in the same period of 2018. The drop was mainly due to a decline in commission income. Interest income also fell and AUM increased to CHF 34 billion francs.
Nomura is expected to launch its onshore China joint-venture in December. The JV will employ over 100 staff who will be part of Nomura’s wealth management and institutional brokerage business. Nomura is also believed to be considering plans to build an asset management arm alongside the wealth management business and pushing to expand across a diversified range of financial services mainly driven by sustainability. The venture is jointly owned by minatory Shanghai-based partner Orient International and has received approvals from Chinese regulators for brokerage, proprietary trading, asset management and research.
Pictet Wealth Management is seeking growth in Asia and is looking to hire private bankers with the expectation to double the number in the region in the next few years. The bank currently employs 52 private bankers in Asia and is looking to add ten to fifteen bankers annually over the next four to five years, according to managing partner and co-head of private wealth management Boris Collardi. Pictet will seek to enhance its platform in the region as part of its growth strategy; it has already obtained a wholesale banking license in Singapore last year which allows it to offer Singapore dollar-denominated deposits and loans, and it is planning to import its advisory solution to Asia next year.
PKB, a Swiss independent private bank with Italian roots, has recently appointed former Julius Baer Managing Director Luca Venturini as Chief Executive, replacing Umberto Trabaldo Togna who has become Chairman of the Board of Directors. Recently interviewed by Finews, Umberto reiterated the importance of the Latin American market for the bank. PKB has a licence in Panama, where it claims to apply the same strict client onboarding and compliance rules adopted in Switzerland, and it has recently applied for a representative office license in Colombia. It is also considering an advisory licence in Argentina.
Quilter Cheviot’s Dubai office has secured a Category 4 licence by the Dubai Financial Service Authority (DFSA), having previously operated within the Dubai International Financial Centre as a representative office. The licence will allow the firm to advise and on-board new clients and service relationships in the United Arab Emirates. It has also received a retail endorsement to the licence, allowing the local team to assist a cross-section of both professional and retail clients.
Multi-Family Office Saranac Partners launched a wealth management service for US clients, offering wealth advisory, investment management, lending solution and tax reporting service to US persons and green card holders residing outside of the US. Saranac Partners will help US clients to access specialist advisers for tax advice, estate and succession planning, and philanthropy.
Seven Investment Management (7IM) has launched five ultra-low cost, multi-asset passive model portfolios (dubbed the 7IM Pathway range). It aims to offer advisers a simple way to create a well-diversified portfolio of passives for their clients for just 0.15% (plus underlying investments) per annum, utilising 7IM’s strategic asset allocation framework and risk management process and combining different asset classes to optimise returns for each of the five levels of risk. The portfolios will be available on six platforms - 7IM, Novia, Transact, Standard Life, Aviva and ARC (Aegon) - with other platforms to follow.
Schroders Personal Wealth, the new joint venture between Schroders and Lloyds announced that it will undercut the asset management pricing of major high street rivals by as much as 50%, estimating first-year client fees, inclusive of all account set up costs and administrative and trading charges, to run at an average 3.6%. According to the firm, this compares to the 7.9% at St James’s Place and 4.7% at Brewin Dolphin (although this has not been confirmed by the respective businesses). Schroders Personal Wealth announced plans to reach £25 billion in client assets (from the current £13 billion seeded by Lloyds) and hire 700 financial planners to the new division.
Societe Generale’s UK business, Kleinwort Hambros, has been bleeding bankers through to the third quarter, with exits including their UK Head of Russia and Eastern Europe, as well as the Head of South Asia, the Head of Western Europe and the Head of UK Regions among other senior exits. This is an ongoing trend in the UK office, which has clearly lost appetite for international and emerging market clients following Societe Generale’s acquisition of Kleinwort Benson in 2016, the UK wealth management operations of Oddo & Cie. Just three years after the acquisition, the bank is reportedly planning a retreat from the UK and it has started gauging the interest of potential buyers, with the help of Rothschild & Co.
Standard Chartered Private Banking, currently with $65 billion in assets under management, is targeting a substantial growth of its private banking AUM, with the ambition to grow to $100 billion in three to five years. To do so, it plans to hire 30 – 40 bankers per year across locations, with special focus in Hong Kong and Singapore. Currently the bank employs roughly 300 relationship managers. The private banking business accounted for only 3.8% of Standard Chartered total profit before tax in the first half of 2019.
St James’s Place is implementing a cash management service through which all 4,000 advisers will be able to actively manage clients’ cash deposits by seeking out the best interest rates, available to investors with £50,000 or more to deposit. This service was previously available only to corporate, charity and private clients with £250,000 to deposit.
Caledonia Investments announced Caledonia Investments announced in December 2018 that it had agreed to acquire a minority stake (36.7%) in multi-family office Stonehage Fleming & Family Partners, and the deal has now been completed. Caledonia paid £89.3 million, with additional deferred payments up to £20.6 million payable upon the family office achieving financial targets for the years ending 31 March 2020 and 2021. Stonehage Fleming is the largest family office in EMEA, formed in 2015 through the merger of Stonehage Group and Fleming Family & Partners.
US Wealth Manager Tiedemann Advisors, which oversees about $21 billion in assets, has set up a Zurich-based joint venture with consulting firm Constantia Partners AG, a firm offering family office and private equity advisory services started in 2017 by Robert Weeber, former head of Credit Suisse UK UHNW Group in Switzerland. The venture will be called Tiedemann Constantia, and it will help New York-based Tiedemann Advisors target clients in Europe and the Middle East while offering global investment opportunities to existing customers. Constantia Partners will in turn be able to move international assets into U.S. trusts, and provide access to Tiedemann Advisors’ asset-management operation, including its impact-investment offerings.
Wealth manager Tilney has agreed a merger with wealth manager Smith & Williamson, in what has been dubbed as a ‘game-changing tie-up’ that will create a firm with revenue of £500m and assets under management in excess of £45 billion (Tilney manages £24 billion worth of assets and S&W has £21 billion). Both businesses have strong investment management businesses. On top of that, Tinley has a broad financial planning arm while Smith & Williamson is also a top ten UK accountancy firm that tax planning services. Tilney reached an agreement with Smith & Williamson, with the latter’s shareholders receiving a consideration valued at £625m, to be paid through a combination of cash and shares. The combined group will be names Tilney Smith & Williamson, and the transaction is expected to complete in early 2020, subject to regulatory approvals.
Union Bancaire Privée has reiterated its intention to keep investing in its Asia Pacific business, where the bank has successfully doubled its AUM since 2016 to almost $25 billion, currently representing around 15% of the group’s total AUM. The acquisition of the international offices of Coutts in 2016 added a substantial Asian operation into the business, that Asia Chief Executive Michael Blake (former CEO of Coutts before the sale) is currently building upon. The bank has been strengthening its proposition in Asia, implementing a service to help large families establish single or multi-family offices; a corporate finance advisory referral panel in Hong Kong; and a closer cooperation with the asset management arm.
UBS has launched a new digital tool for its UHNW and family office clients in the UK that allows them to view all their assets across different custodians and locations, called UBS Asset Wizard. It provides performance and risk analytics information, including oversight of more esoteric asset classes such as private equity, real estate and art collections, and it also integrates sustainability considerations (ESG). Already available to clients in Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg, Hong Kong and Singapore, it has now been implemented in the United Kingdom too.
The bank is making a push into alternative investments in Italy, with the launch of two private equity funds. The Multi Vintage Private Equity Fund 3 is a multi-manager fund that aims at providing investors diversification by investing globally in various private equity strategies: buyout, growth and special situations; aiming at reaching an initial target of $250 million. Stripe 58 - Blackstone Capital Partners VIII is the second alternative fund offering investors access to the capabilities of Blackstone Capital Partner and will focus on sophisticated private equity transactions.
In France, UBS France is set to increase its stake in UBS La Maison de Gestion, a private banking unit created in a 2017 merger with Banque Leonardo (OCEA Gestion), increasing it from 51% to 95%. UBS La Maison de Gestion currently has €5 billion in AUM.
The bank suffered a year-on-year decline of 248 financial advisers in the Americas at the end of the second quarter (3.6% of the global bank’s financial adviser workforce in the Americas), with large part of these advisers setting up independent wealth management firms as RIAs. This does not come as a surprise, as the bank stated in the past that it was pulling back from the costly and high stakes business model of recruiting advisers from competitors, which also led the bank to withdrew from an industry agreement called the protocol for broker recruiting at the end of 2017. Despite that, adviser annual productivity reached a new peak of $1.35 million.
Independent Swiss asset manager Unigestion has opened a branch in Copenhagen, in a bid to expand across Scandinavia. Per Lawӕtz Hansen, who joined the Swiss firm from Nordea in December 2018, will lead the business and organize the distribution of its services to Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and the Netherlands. Unigestion has $23 billion in assets under management.
Liechtenstein’s VP Bank is opening a strategic collaboration with Shanghai-based wealth manager Hywin Wealth to penetrate the Chinese market from Hong Kong. Hywin, a 13-year-old firm, provides asset management, estate planning, and philanthropy services to its clients in China. It is also present in the UK and Hong Kong and it aims to benefit from the much more global expertise and reach of VP Bank. VP Bank already has a presence in Hong Kong and Singapore and hopes to expand its business in China through this collaboration.
VP Bank is also planning to penetrate further in Germany, and it received an exemption from the German regulator BaFin allowing the business to expand its business in the country. The bank is now allowed to serve clients domiciled in Germany and expand its client-base without establishing a branch or cooperating with a licensed bank. BaFin will check that AML guidelines and regulations protecting German clients will be enforced by the bank.
Genevan wealth management firm XP Private, part of Group XP, is preparing to open a branch in Lisbon, Portugal, pending necessary approvals from the regulator. The bank aims to service Brazilian clients in Portugal, building on its expertise with Latin American clients. The firm currently operates offices in Switzerland, London, New York, Miami, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
Zuercher Kantonalbank, the largest Swiss cantonal bank, posted a 5% decrease in net profit to CHF 418 million Swiss francs ($424 million) in in the first half of 2019 from 439 million the year before, with negative interest rates in Switzerland affecting performances. Cost-income ratio also worsened reaching 59.1% from 58.4%. Despite that, assets under management raised to CHF 315.5 billion with CHF 2.5 billion in net new money and CHF 17.7 billion due to the rise in asset prices.