Tokyo: Swiss bank UBS aims to increase the assets under management (AUM) of its ultra-high net worth business in Asia-Pacific by 10 to 20% from the current $90 billion in three to five years, the head of its Asian business said on Thursday.
UBS plans to achieve the goal by actively recruiting top bankers to further strengthen services in its wealth management business in the world’s fastest-growing region for millionaires, said Amy Lo, head of ultra-high net worth business at UBS Wealth Management Asia Pacific.
China and Japan are among the countries in the region that UBS focusing on closely by providing investment ideas and corporate advisory, as well as providing solutions in transferring wealth within families to younger generations, Lo said.
The plan to expand the staff of private bankers in the region to 1,200 from current 900 within two to three years will not be affected by calls from the company’s head of wealth management to cut costs.
“We’ll continue to hire ... Asia is still a growing region that we’ll put resources into, and strategically we are looking for good bankers, quality bankers to help us grow the market,” Lo told Reuters in an interview.
Asked about a newspaper report on Wednesday quoting Juerg Zeltner, head of UBS wealth management, as saying UBS needs to rein in costs amid tough market conditions, Lo said the Asia-Pacific part of the business would not be affected.
Lo, appointed head of the Asia-Pacific business in January, has 20 years experience in wealth management.
UBS’s ultra-high net worth segment serves individuals who hold investible assets of more than $50 million.
It manages a total of $300 billion in assets for such ultra-rich clients outside the United States. Of that about $90 billion is for Asian clients.
UBS is looking to boost its assets in the Asia-Pacific.
“We target around 10 to 20% growth in the next three to five years,” Lo said.
“That’s also the reason why we have to look ahead in addition to our organic growth ... so we will continue with this kind of strategic hiring of senior bankers in the region in order to meet this kind of growth,” she said.
UBS treats Hong Kong and Singapore as key international markets as well as Japan, China, Taiwan and Australia.
“China, if you look at the number of wealth creation, this is one of the most important markets for us,” Lo said.
“Our aim is to further increase our penetration in the domestic market in China as well,” she said.
Asia has become a battleground for global and local private banks, who are competing for market share in a region that is fast outpacing the United States and Europe in economic growth.
Powered by China and India, the Asia-Pacific region’s millionaire ranks rose 10% to 3.3 million, second only to the 3.4 million residing in North America and inching ahead of Europe, which had 3.1 million, according to the latest annual Merrill Lynch-Capgemini World Wealth Report.
Asia’s combined wealth, up 12% to $10.8 trillion last year, surpassed Europe and threatens to overtake the United States and Canada, where wealth rose 9% to $11.6 trillion.
However, more than half of the world’s millionaires are still found in the United States, Japan and Germany, the report said.
Lo said Japan is an attractive market due to the size of the market, which is bigger than that of many countries.
UBS has seen decent growth in assets in Japan over the last four years and it is planning to expand in the country, she said.
UBS has recruited two corporate advisers in Japan this year aimed to help Japanese clients find deal opportunities outside the country, while helping European clients to invest in Japan.
“This is one of the areas we would want to grow and further develop in Japan as well,” Lo said.