StanChart India wealth arm eyes $2 bn in client assets

StanChart India wealth arm eyes $2 bn in client assets

Mumbai: Standard Chartered Plc aims to add at least $500 million (Rs2,445 crore) in client assets at its Indian wealth arm by the end of 2010, taking the total under management at the unit to more than $2 billion, a senior executive said.

The Asia-focused bank, which started its Indian private banking operation in 2007, is seeing robust demand in the country as growing number of rich look to professionals to help manage their wealth.

“This year itself we have grown by well over 40%," Soumya Rajan, managing director and head of the Indian wealth unit, said over telephone on Thursday.

“By end of 2010, our aspiration is to be any where between $2-$2.5 billion," Rajan added.

She projected the combined investable assets of Indians with at least $1 million, which Standard Chartered targets, to swell to $420-500 billion by 2014-15 from less than $50 billion now, presenting a huge opportunity for wealth advisors.

“We haven’t even touched the tip of the iceberg," the Oxford alumnus said, referring to the industry’s size.

Standard Chartered has expanded the local wealth team to 45 relationship managers from 30 at the start of January and hopes to hire 35 more by the end of next year.

It is looking to start offices in up to five new centres across India besides the five big cities, including Mumbai and New Delhi, it currently operates, Rajan said.

The Mumbai-based executive said her main strategy was to tap into the client base of Standard Chartered bank, which has 90 branches across 30 Indian cities and employs 9,000 people at the bank and 7,000 at its offshore centre in the country.

The expansion is part of a broader growth plan of Standard Chartered, which has emerged relatively unscathed from the global financial crisis. and is

The bank is boosting its Asian operations when many competitors are distracted by problems in their home markets.

Despite a stock market plunge last year that wiped out trillions of dollars of wealth worldwide, Asia remains an important market for wealth management providers, where higher growth rates have minted millionaires at a heady pace.

Merrill Lynch and Capgemini predict financial wealth of the rich would surge nearly 48% to $48.5 trillion by 2013, led by Asia-Pacific whose wealthy individuals would control $13.4 trillion, the highest by any region in the world.

“We view India and China as two key markets we are actually focusing on," Rajan said.

The number of millionaires in India rose 22.7% to 123,000 in 2007, the fastest in the world, attracting the likes of Morgan Stanley, Societe Generale SA, Credit Suisse Group AG and British bank Barclays Plc.

Late in 2007, before the global credit crunch worsened, consultant Celent had forecast the organized industry including private banks, then growing at 32% annually, would quadruple its size to manage about $1 trillion in five years.