Lombard Odier feels for growth path in Asia

The privately held Swiss bank is targeting additional alliances with third-party players in Asia and is debating booking-centre status in Hong Kong. It is also seeking RMs in Singapore.
Lombard Odier feels for growth path in Asia

Privately held Swiss bank Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch is seeking to expand its alliances with third-parties in Asia and is debating whether to apply for a booking centre in Hong Kong.

Separately, it will also be looking to hire relationship managers in Singapore to cover wealthy Indonesian clients offshore, saying it is seeing growth in this area.

Only last month Lombard Odier, which sources $8 billion (4%) of its near-$200 billion in global AUM out of Asia-Pacific, signed an MoU on a private banking partnership with Kookmin Bank in Korea.

Vincent Duhamel, who joined Lombard Odier as Asia head in March 2011, says the aim is to help Kookmin build its private banking platform and service offering, and provide training.

In return, Kookmin will make Lombard Odier products available to its Korean clientele. “We are expanding the exchange with Kookmin Bank,” says Duhamel.

In March last year Lombard Odier also agreed a partnership with Australian private wealth firm JBWere to provide its institutional and high-net-worth clients in Australasia with wealth advice and access to the Swiss private bank’s investment tools, research and platforms.

“JBWere is domestically orientated and this is where I think we can provide something,” adds Duhamel. “For them there is no conflict, because we don’t compete with them in Australia. It is the type of business we are looking to do more of.”

Asked which Asia-Pacific markets he was targeting for alliances to provide advice alongside its global product and services platform to third-party clients, he cites China.

Lombard Odier has been striving to build up its Asia-based AUM, with Duhamel saying it has added $1.4 billion in net new assets over the past year in the region.

It has been engaged in a round of hiring, having brought in Vincent Magnenat as its Singapore CEO just last month. Duhamel confirms it is looking to add relationship managers in Singapore to cover wealthy Indonesian clients, which are growing at the fastest rate in the region.

Lombard Odier has over 100 staff in Asia, with 50 in Hong Kong, 30 in Singapore and 24 in Tokyo. Of these, it has 11 relationship managers in Hong Kong and 14 in Singapore.

Separately, the firm is discussing whether to apply for a booking centre in Hong Kong. At present it operates with type-1 (dealing in securities), type-4 (advising on securities) and type-9 (asset management) licences in Hong Kong and books Asian client assets out of Singapore.

On the prospect of applying for booking-centre status in Hong Kong, Duhamel says: “It makes a difference from a marketing perspective to clients, because you can say you are a bank, and that has more impact than saying you are an asset manager.”

Marketing has become a key to growth in Asia for boutique private banks such as Lombard Odier, a Swiss house that ultimately aims to offer tougher-to-sell discretionary wealth management services.

Earlier this month the firm announced it had hired Helene Li from JP Morgan Chase as its Asia-Pacific head of marketing, based in Hong Kong.

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