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19 March 2020
INVESTMENT

HSBC plans to triple UHNW clients in greater China push

HSBC, along with rivals including UBS Group and Credit Suisse Group are targeting the fastest-growing wealth management market in the world

HSBC is combining its retail banking and wealth management, and private banking businesses with $1.4 trillion in assets/Bloomberg

by Bloomberg

HSBC Holdings is planning past the coronavirus turmoil, confident that it can triple the number of billionaire clients in the Greater China area in the next three years as the firm expands its private-banking presence.

Tan Siew Meng, Asia Pacific Head of Global Private Banking, said, “This ultra-high-net-worth piece is very, very critical for us, it is one of the key focuses that we’re putting in place to ensure that we’re going to deliver on the broader strategy.”

According to a report by UBS and PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Asia Pacific, led by China, had 754 billionaires in 2018, with $2.49 trillion of total wealth.

While the coronavirus has roiled markets and threatens to tip the global economy into recession, HSBC expects the demand for its services to wealthy clients will continue. Around 75 per cent of the private banking unit’s $151 billion in Asian client assets last year came from the segment that serves customers with $30 million or more to invest.

“Even if 2020 is going to be impacted, the trajectory will come back, it will pick up again when business activity or when travel starts to resume,” said Tan.

The push for wealthy clients fits within newly appointed Chief Executive Officer Noel Quinn’s plan to deploy more resources into Asia as the group cuts jobs and underperforming businesses in Europe and the US as part of a massive overhaul.

HSBC is combining its retail banking and wealth management, and private banking businesses with $1.4 trillion in assets. Quinn, who was appointed on an interim basis last year, was named to the post full-time.

In a report, Boston Consulting Group said that China, Asia’s largest economy, is expected to see the biggest annual growth among the world’s largest private banking markets through 2023. The nation’s wealth accounted for more than half of all assets in Asia, excluding Japan.

The challenge for banks like HSBC will be winning new customers during the virus turmoil, as countries restrict travel and so many people work from home. Banks are increasingly relying on online tools to stay in touch with clients.

HSBC plans to leverage its international network through retail and commercial businesses to expand its private-banking customer base in the region. Around 60 per cent of client referrals to the private bank in Asia, last year came from within the group, added Tan.


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