UBS tops Asia private banking league

  • Business
  • Wednesday, 17 Apr 2019

Lower assets: The logo of Swiss bank UBS is seen in Zurich, Switzerland. UBS saw assets under management decline about 7% last year. — Reuters

SINGAPORE: UBS Group AG topped the list of the 20 largest wealth firms in Asia for the sixth consecutive year even as assets under management declined in the region, Asian Private Banker (APB) said.

While the Zurich-based bank continued to dominate the regional top spot by a wide margin, with assets totalling US$357bil last year, Credit Suisse Group AG slightly narrowed the gap, the Hong Kong-based publication said on its website. UBS saw assets under management decline about 7%, while Credit Suisse’s assets edged up 1.5% to US$205bil.

UBS wasn’t the only firm to find its assets shrinking last year as market turbulence deterred rich clients from deploying their wealth. Across the industry in Asia, assets under management (AUM) “ground to a halt as challenging market conditions tempered activity and impeded performance,” APB said.

Total AUM at the 20 largest private banks in Asia excluding China declined 3.6% to US$1.63 trillion, with just five institutions seeing increases, according to APB.

Relationship-manager headcount of these banks totalled 5,555, with expansion at firms including UBS, HSBC Holdings Plc and Bank of Singapore. Credit Suisse and Standard Chartered Plc are among those to see lower staff numbers, the publication said.

Citigroup Inc, which held second place in 2017, was dropped from the annual ranking together with DBS Group Holdings Ltd, because the lenders’ numbers included assets of less wealthy clients, according to APB.

The survey only included private banks with minimum assets of US$1mil per customer. Those thresholds varied wildly for the firms on the list, from Goldman Sachs Group Inc catering to clients with at least US$100mil, followed by Morgan Stanley with US$35mil. At the other end of the spectrum, UBS’ minimum was US$2mil and Union Bancaire Privee SA’s was only US$1mil.

“DBS offers a range of wealth propositions to our high net-worth clients, and our view is that the wealth platform they choose to be banked on should not have a bearing on their status,” the Singapore-based bank said. — Bloomberg

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