Best domestic private bank in the Philippines 2022
Metrobank’s private wealth division has had an eventful run since its launch in 2016. From the elections of Rodrigo Duterte and Donald Trump to the pandemic and surging inflation, and now the Russia-Ukraine crisis, it has been quite a ride for the firm.
But Metrobank, whose head of private wealth is Lizette Perez, is making quite a go of it, finding success in its slow but steady strategy to win clients.
With combined assets under management of about $4.7 billion, Metrobank’s aim is not to be the Philippines’ biggest private bank, just the best.
It was the first local private bank, for example, to require a minimum of $2 million in assets from clients. This ensures that Metrobank, under president Fabian Dee, stays linearly focused on its target market.
Since then, other local players have begun following its lead of targeting the ultra high net worth set in one of Asia’s most volatile economies. Even so, most peers will maintain a minimum relationship balance well below Metrobank’s threshold.
The basic strategy is what Metrobank calls a needs-based and product-agnostic approach to serving clients. The standard pitch: review a client’s current portfolio, provide immediate analysis of those holdings relative to local market conditions, and cater strategies and products to the client’s needs and risk appetite.
In its first five years, the private wealth division’s assets under management have grown by a robust 30%, while revenues showed a 33% compound annual growth rate.
The scale of the broader bank, the nation’s third-largest by assets, surely helps, says Perez.
The private wealth group works with the structured products team within the bank’s financial markets division. It also collaborates with the trust banking group, First Metro Investments Corp, First Metro Securities Brokerage Corp and other myriad product partners that arm it with unrivalled scope to diversify the portfolios and offer a truly unique proposition to the UHNW.
Metrobank, for example, partnered with Allfunds to expand the range of global offshore funds from which clients can choose. It also harnesses the deep databases of Morningstar Direct for independent research on the range of investment schemes. This enables the bank to select and offer best-in-class offshore mutual funds to its clients – and to recalibrate nimbly as market conditions change.
Another unique factor is Metrobank’s success in upscaling financial literacy among its clients without ruffling feathers. It’s a given that many high net worth clients believe they’re smarter than their relationship managers. We live in chaotic times, though, with learning curves as steep as they’ve been in history, Metrobank officials say.
To this end, the bank sponsors regular briefings on economic and market developments, on epochal shifts in trading strategies and other topics of interest to primary clients.
Since the start of the pandemic, as Zoom replaced most face-to-face interactions, Metrobank sponsored numerous informational sessions on topics ranging from the Philippine government’s fiscal manoeuvres during the pandemic to Covid’s impact on tourism, real estate and health industries. It also ran modules on basic finance and savings for second- and third-generation family members with an interest in succession planning.
The training enterprise both nurtured long-term relationships and forged new ones. It resulted in increased referrals from existing clients, driving a 20% increase in the number of clients in 2021 alone.