Barclays Wealth is hopeful that its new booking-centre status in Hong Kong will act as a springboard to further growth in Greater China, both in terms of clients and private bankers.
The wealth management division of the UK-based Barclays Bank can now offer a full range of services in the city, including deposits for those who prefer to retain their assets in Hong Kong. Barclays Bank PLC already has a full bank licence there, while Barclays Wealth also has a booking centre in Singapore.
Just weeks ago, Bank Julius Baer was granted a Hong Kong banking licence, including booking centre, to compliment its Singapore offering. The expectation is that more private banks will be granted branch and booking-centre status in Hong Kong in the near future.
North Asia head Joanna Chu confirms that Barclays Wealth will be applying to set up an RMB service offering for the Hong Kong booking centre, initially for deposits and RMB bonds. The plan is to have this up and running by the second quarter of next year.
“We are in close discussion with our investment bank Barclays Capital for the more sophisticated products denominated in RMB,” she adds, with 2011 or possibly 2012 set as a target.
Didier von Daeniken, chief executive of Barclays Wealth Asia-Pacific, has outlined plans to double the number of private bankers and quadruple assets under management across the region within four years.
It is understood that Barclays Wealth has just over 100 relationship managers at present in Asia-Pacific. It doesn’t break out its regional AUM numbers, but it had total client assets of £153.5 billion ($245 billion) as at June 30 this year.
Asked for her priorities for the business, Chu said it would be to build client assets and to hire more relationship managers. “It is not just Hong Kong, it is about putting more resources in our North Asian bases,” she says.
“We have to grow the offshore China market in particular, because it is where we see continued growth and momentum and where there are going to be more customer needs.”
But she stresses that Hong Kong is not an easy market to hire in, adding that she will also be looking to recruit in Singapore for the North Asian market.
Barclays Wealth has been seeking to expand its footprint in the Asia-Pacific region recently. In July it announced a private banking joint-venture in Japan with Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and Nikko Cordial Securities to provide wealth management services to high-net-worth individuals in Japan.
The previous month it obtained a licence from the Monetary Authority of Singapore to conduct trust business in Singapore, while in November 2008 it launched private banking services in India.