Asiamoney Private Banking Awards 2020: Hong Kong


Hong Kong

Best Domestic Private Bank: HSBC

Best International Private Bank: Credit Suisse

Best for Asset Management: Citi Private Bank

Best for Investment Research: Citi Private Bank

Best for ESG: HSBC

Award winners

Best Domestic Private Bank
Best for ESG

No financial institution can touch HSBC in Hong Kong, where it has had a presence for three centuries. In wealth management, it is the same powerhouse it has been for decades, providing best-in-class private banking services to the city’s high and ultra-high net-worth families, including everything from capital financing to pre-IPO funding and real estate lending.

Never content to sit still or take its home market for granted, HSBC rolled out new services for its wealthiest clients in 2019. It unveiled a refreshed UHNW client proposition and it launched a new Next Gen programme, focusing on, among other things, sustainability, entrepreneurship and family legacy.

That programme is a proactive effort to provide younger HNW and UHNW family members – in particular those set to inherit large fortunes in the years ahead – with real world experience. 

Over the last year, HSBC hosted Investment Outlook events that provide next-generation clients with world-class financial education, including a trip to the jungles of Borneo to learn about sustainability practices – yet another example of the bank’s commitment to its environmental, social and governance principles.

Total revenues at its Hong Kong private banking division grew at a compound annual rate of 20% over the four years to the end of 2019, with client assets expanding at a rate of 14%. 

Total net new money managed by HSBC’s private banking team in Hong Kong expanded six-fold over that period.

It has been period of great change for the London-headquartered lender. HSBC has made another concerted effort to pivot to Asia. More pertinently, a decision to combine its private bank with its wealth management and retail banking businesses will, the bank says, transform it into a powerhouse in this area.

The strategic shift is an important one: a key focus in the years ahead will be to target China’s richest families, many of which own a large amount of assets, including property and securities, located or listed in Hong Kong. 

The bank’s combined private bank and wealth business has about $1.4 trillion in assets under management, and HSBC tips that number to grow sharply in the years ahead. 

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Best International Private Bank
Credit Suisse

Francois Monnet, Credit Suisse

Credit Suisse remains the global private banking power player in Asia, and its presence in Hong Kong, where it is the deserved winner of this year’s award for best private bank, underlines its status as the leader of the pack.

The Swiss lender’s presence in the market stretches back over half a century. During that period it has steadily reinforced its position in Hong Kong, one of its two regional booking centres, which services high and ultra-high net-worth clients based in Hong Kong and world-wide.

Despite the unrest that pervaded the local market in 2019, the bank posted a 14% year-on-year rise in assets under management, giving it average AuM growth of 11% over the last three years. Net revenues rose 16% on an annualized basis, with pre-tax income up 29% and net new assets growing by SFr3 billion ($3.09 billion).

Credit Suisse’s strength in the market runs deep. Under its head of private banking for North Asia, Francois Monnet, its roster of 90 relationship managers, led by veterans Rickie Chan and Eddy Sze, bank 60% of the 20 richest families on the Forbes Hong Kong rich list. 

That is only possible because it has spent so long building its franchise, both in Hong Kong and around the region.

The average age of UHNW clients in Hong Kong is about 70; that amplifies the value of its wealth transfer and succession planning services. Likewise, its annual Young Investor Programme extends financial education services to the next generation of UHNW customers, and offers an invaluable opportunity for them to network with the business leaders of tomorrow.

Credit Suisse’s long-term investment in digital across the financial institution, allied to its commitment to evolution rather than revolution, continues to pay off. Among the initiatives it rolled out in 2019 are a new onboarding process and a red carpet service for UHNW clients. It cut account opening times for clients across Greater China to 32 days in the second half of 2019, against 40 days a year earlier.

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Best for Investment Research
Best for Asset Management
Citi Private Bank

Year after year, Citi quietly gets on with the job of providing world-class private banking services to its clients in Hong Kong. At Citi

Steven Lo, Citi Private Bank

Private Bank, assets under management grew 66% between 2011 and the end of 2019 in Asia overall, with AuM up 50% in Hong Kong.

It has in recent years focused on crushing costs (its regional cost-to-income ratio is one of the lowest in the industry, at 54%) while creating tailored solutions that suit its clients’ needs.

Its Global Client Services division is key to its success, as it allows Asian customers to access investment opportunities across the world, while of course giving global clients access to Asia.

Key solutions provided by the bank to Hong Kong clients with financial assets of at least $10 million include real estate financing, banking and custody, business banking services, and consolidated portfolio reporting on a single, seamless platform.

Meanwhile, the bank’s Global Investment Lab helps high and ultra-high net-worth clients in Hong Kong and beyond to drill down into their portfolio and evaluate what really matters. 

The Lab incorporates asset allocation analysis and investment modelling, and leans heavily on data to create individually tailored wealth management strategies, from asset liability balancing to interest rate hedging.

Hong Kong lies at the heart of Citi’s business in Asia, where it employs more than 150 bankers and product specialists. 

Its discretionary fixed income team posted a return of more than 9% in 2019, while its discretionary equity team posted a return of 19%, outperforming the MSCI China index by more than 9 percentage points, despite the Covid-19 pandemic and unrest in Hong Kong.

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