Singapore/Hong Kong: French lender BNP Paribas SA on Friday announced a new organisational structure for its wealth management business in Asia and said it will focus on six key markets.
These markets include Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, India, Singapore (including Malaysia and Indonesia) and others, BNP said in a statement, adding that it would also set up a dedicated unit to serve ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWI).
BNP has appointed separate heads for each market segment.
“The major difference between the new and previous structure is the creation of the UHNWI unit and having a more market-oriented structure,” a spokesperson said.
Mignonne Cheng, who has spent nearly two decades with the company, will retain her responsibilities as chairman and chief executive of the French bank’s Asia-Pacific wealth management division.
Serge Janowski will head the Hong Kong wealth unit of BNP Paribas and Sergi Forti will head the Singapore unit.
Asia, home to more than 3 million millionaires, has become a battleground for private banks as global and Asian players compete for market share in a region that is fast outpacing the United States and Europe in economic growth.
The combined wealth of Asia-Pacific high-net-worth individuals, or those with investible assets of more than $1 million, is estimated to grow at an annual rate of 8.8% until 2018, faster than the global average of 7.1%, according to a Merrill Lynch-Capgemini wealth report.
BNP competes with the private banking units of UBS AG and Citigroup Inc, as well as fast-emerging Asian banks such as Bank of Singapore, owned by Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp Ltd (OCBC).
BNP Paribas Wealth Management manages €257 billion ($343 billion) across 30 countries and employs more than 6,500 staff.