Sarasin Rabo Investment Management, the Hong Kong-based subsidiary of Bank Sarasin, has formed an offshore Philippines team made up of managing director Gerard Bichon, executive director Dimitri Lamarlere, and two assistant relationship managers.

The team, based in Hong Kong, marks a significant expansion of Bank SarasinÆs coverage of the Philippines, which is among the bankÆs major growth markets in Asia. Sarasin Rabo Investment Management is a unit of Swiss private banking institution Bank Sarasin, which has as its core activities investment advisory and asset management services for private and institutional clients, as well as an investment funds business. The bank, which has other services that extend to corporate finance and financial analysis, manages around SFr84 billion in assets worldwide.

Both Bichon and Lamarlere have come to Sarasin Rabo from Credit Suisse, which they both joined in 2006 after working for BNP Paribas Private Bank for many years. Bichon reports directly to Enid Yip, managing director and vice-chairman for Asia at Sarasin Rabo.

Bichon was most recently the head of the offshore Philippines team at Credit Suisse. At BNP Paribas, which he joined in 1998, he had several roles including senior risk analyst, head of risk for private banking Asia, senior relationship manager, and head of the offshore Philippines team. Prior to BNP Paribas, he was based in France with Sofinco Bank, which is part of the IndoSuez Group.

Lamarlere was most recently a relationship manager at Credit Suisse. At BNP Paribas, which he joined in 1999, his roles included being a relationship manager with the Philippines Team, research analyst at BNP Securities in Canada, business analyst at BNP Paribas Private Bank in Hong Kong, and investment advisor in Paris. He returned to Hong Kong in late-2001 as a senior investment advisor focusing on cash and derivative recommendations and then joined BNP Paribas Private BankÆs Philippines team in 2005.

An offshore team is located outside the jurisdiction, in this case the Philippines, in which its clients reside, but may not be legally domiciled. Typically in a private wealth management organisation such as Sarasin Rabo, relationship managers work together in geographic-focused teams, with each team responsible for servicing customers in a specific country market.

With the new Philippines team, Sarasin Rabo now has offshore teams covering Hong Kong, China, India and the Philippines from its Hong Kong office.

Sarasin Rabo does not prospect for clients in the Philippines. It only provides offshore wealth management services to customers who are reasonably believed to be seeking offshore wealth services in line with regulations. Typically, these clients are looking for geographical diversification or access to private wealth management services which may not necessarily be available from their local service providers.

In theory, Sarasin Rabo is able to offer offshore services for every market in Asia, and has teams of client advisors based in Hong Kong and Singapore, from where it serves the Asian markets. It also has clients who reside in the Middle East and Europe.