Insurer ACE Life has opened a wealth management centre in Hong Kong in a bid to tap the city's growing high-net-worth market.

The life insurance unit of US-listed ACE Group has taken on a number of its agents in the city to work in the centre, which will serve clients with a minimum of $1 million in investable assets.

ACE Life plans to open several more such wealth management centres in Asia and is looking to sign distribution agreements or partnerships with retail banks.

Allan Lam, ACE Life’s country president for Hong Kong, said the firm saw opportunities in the city's HNW market, which was growing by a double-digit percentage every year.  Unlike the Hong Kong mass affluent segment, which it operates in through its 2,000 agents, HNW clients will be served by more specialised consultants.

When asked how many consultants the firm had in its wealth centre in Causeway Bay, which opened yesterday, Lam said the insurer had selected a single-digit percentage of its agents to be trained as consultants. Singapore is widely seen as the wealth management capital of Asia, but Lam said ACE Life had opted for Hong Kong because it saw a greater concentration of HNW investors in the city.

“We are starting with a small number but will continue to grow this,” said Lam. The centre will provide a product range comprising health insurance, universal life, endowment and investment-linked products.

The insurer will also be looking to sign distribution agreements or partnerships with retail banks. It currently distributes its products through its agents as well as brokerage firms and independent financial advisers.

Without its own investment or asset management team, ACE Life relies entirely on asset management firms to design investment-linked products. Lam said it was looking forward to tapping the Hong Kong-China mutual recognition scheme.

“We don’t have a lot of details now and it’s not fully executed but we will look to absolutely ride on the mutual recognition scheme in designing investment-related products,” said Lam.

ACE Life entered Hong Kong in 2011 via the acquisition of New York Life. It had $98.2 billion in assets as of December 31 last year. It has operations in mainland China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.