UBS Wealth Management tops a list of the biggest private bank distributors of investment products in Asia ex-Japan, according to a new report by Haymarket Intelligence, an affiliate of AsianInvestor.

It has both the largest assets under management from the region as well as the biggest team of relationship managers.

Global firms comprise the bulk of the top 10 private bank distributors, including Citibank, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas and JP Morgan Chase.

However, two global banks with an Asian tilt – HSBC and Standard Chartered – also make the top 10, along with two Singaporean banks, OCBC and DBS.

Asia has strategically emerged as one of the major private banking destinations both in terms of the rising number of HNWIs (high-net-worth individuals) as well as in the availability of investment products, where funds can be channelled.

The report, titled Retail Financial Products Distribution Market in Asia, looks at mass retail as well as private banking, brokerage and insurance distribution in Asia ex-Japan. For more information, please e-mail Richard Santoro or call him on +852 2122 3175 1980.

Although foreign banks dominate private banking overall in the region, this is not true everywhere. Global players are on top in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. But domestic players have a significant market share in China, India, South Korea and Malaysia.

In India, foreign banks have a healthy share in the wealth management business, and they are fast catching up with the domestic players.

China is relatively a closed economy and foreign banks have a negligible presence, which could be a primary reason for several Chinese HNWIs shifting their wealth to other private banking destinations like Singapore and Hong Kong.

In South Korea, there are large banking groups and securities firms which dominate the private banking market, limiting the scope of expansion of foreign banks in the country.

Malaysia’s private banking industry is at a nascent stage and remains relatively unexplored by foreign players.

A strong brand name, service quality and security drive the success of foreign banks in the Asian private banking domain. Within some affluent HNWI circuits, the bank they use is part of their social status and as a result they choose some of the biggest banks present globally.

Considering the growth in wealth and the number of HNWIs, foreign banks are planning to expand their private banking presence in Asia. 

Market leaders such as UBS, Citibank and HSBC are focused on capturing growth opportunities in Asia by investing further in countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, China and India, which have shown maximum growth over the past few years. These banks are also planning to increase the number of relationship managers to cater to the growing HNWI segment.

Asian banks including OCBC and DBS have private banking operations only in Asia, and are planning to expand their presence further in the region.

OCBC acquired ING's Asian private banking assets for $1.4 billion in March 2010 to support its expansion in Asia through ING's wide product portfolio. Similarly, DBS is focused on increasing its private banking presence in Southeast Asia, South Asia and Greater China.