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Banks seek to attract rich with more diverse services

With the number of millionaires growing in Asia, banks are coming up with a more diverse suite of services to cater to the needs of high net worth individuals (HNWI).

SINGAPORE: With the number of millionaires growing in Asia, banks are coming up with a more diverse suite of services to cater to the needs of high net worth individuals (HNWI).

Banks are also seeing growth potential with a new segment of clients.

According to the World Wealth Report 2014, about 1.8 million individuals joined the ranks of HNWIs globally last year, with the Asia Pacific region adding the most of such individuals.

Such sought-after clients have investible assets of between US$1 million to US$10 million lying between the priority banking and the private banking segments.

Citibank has classified that category as Citigold Private Client -- this segment of customers was first introduced by the bank in 2008 -- and it says the number of clients in the group has grown about 30 per cent over the last three years.

Correspondingly, their assets under management with Citibank Singapore have also climbed 60 per cent in the same period.

Umang Moondra, managing director and retail banking head at Citibank Singapore, said: "Our clients are getting increasingly global. They travel extensively, they invest across the world, their businesses are growing in different parts of the world and they have different banking needs.

“Given our global network and global footprint and the fact that we have presence in every business segment, this allows us to bring our globality, and our capabilities that the consumer bank and private bank and commercial bank have, to provide to our clients globally.”

Citibank says it has crafted some specialised advisory services for its clients, including sessions aimed at helping to ensure smooth transfer of wealth to their next generation.

Umang Moondra said: “We have also crafted specialised advisory services that cater to customers’ needs in this area.

“For example, last year we launched CEO Conversations, which caters specifically to business owners and C suite executives. It draws attention to the fact that business wealth should be treated as an asset class in itself.

“As affluence grows, clients have spoken about the need for their children to be prepared for managing wealth and managing businesses so that inter-generational wealth transfer happens smoothly.

“So two years back, we crafted a Future Leaders’ Forum targeted at children aged 18 to 24 of our clients.”

As wealth continues to grow in Asia and in Singapore, more banks are targeting the new millionaires by creating different customer segments so that they can offer specialised products and services.

To entice those clients, banks are investing more into the digital space.

Singapore's biggest bank DBS Group recently announced that it will invest S$200 million in the digital arena for the group over the next three years, which will also cater to their clients in that segment.

Koh Kar Siong, managing director and regional head, DBS Treasures & Treasures Private Client at DBS Bank, said: “Wealth will definitely benefit from this. We see a strong interest and growth in customers who want and will go onto the digital format to look for information to do their transactional banking.

“So we will be deploying the digital strategy also for our wealth customers. It will be a complementary multi-channel strategy that we are looking at. It will be become one of the popular ones but may not be the only one to serve the customers. "

Some of those digital offerings will allow clients to have a consolidated view of their accounts across brokerage, transactional and investment accounts.

DBS launched its own DBS Treasures Private Client segment three years ago for customers with investible assets of between S$1.5 million to S$5 million, which has since grown to more than 10,000 clients to date in Singapore and Hong Kong.

To better serve diverse customer needs, DBS is also investing in its relationship managers through training in various technical competencies as well as soft skills.

Mr Koh said: “We invest in our people -- the people defined as the relationship managers that serve the customers -- and we continue to invest in them in terms of training, to up their competency training and soft skills training.

“We also continue to invest in the product platform, where we bring private bank solutions onto the Treasures Private Client to make sure these products and solutions and services are catered to the needs of the Treasures Private Client.” 

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