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Asia Private Banking Awards

Best for wealth transfer/succession planning in India 2021

HDFC Bank

Rakesh Singh, HDFC Bank.jpg
Rakesh Singh, HDFC Bank

With a motto like “We Understand Your World,” the pressure is on a bank to deliver, particularly during a once-in-a-century crisis. In 2020, HDFC Bank managed to do just that and more.

Yet even after the 58% increase in assets under management HDFC pulled off over the last year, private banking and investment banking group head Rakesh Singh is circumspect. That’s particularly so of how digitally ready his unit was as Covid-19 upended 2020.

He says his team was about 90% ready, and had to scramble about 10%. This meant the focus last year was on digitalizing the bank’s processes even more, so that things like client onboarding, account opening and investment processing were digitized, to offer customers a seamless experience of a high standard.

Nowhere is that experience coming in handy more than HDFC’s wealth transfer and succession planning operations. As pandemic death rates increase, this is an obvious focus for many. HDFC realized the long-term nature of trust and estate planning services, and put in place a very stringent process for choosing referral partners in this part of the market.

The bank operates representative offices overseas, with offshore branches around the globe. That enabled the bank to make some solid investment calls in 2020.

In April 2020, for example, HDFC urged clients to deploy 70% of their assets lump-sum towards investing into equity. It also asked customers to rebalance out of debt into equity as the decline in the equity markets had skewed their asset allocation.

The strategy was based on cheap valuations and expectations for even bigger central bank liquidity infusions around the globe. This worked out well for HDFC’s wealthy clients, given equity markets ended up rising by almost 90% by the end of the calendar year in 2020.

The bank was also among the first in India to offer open architecture framework tie-ups with an entire galaxy of life, general and non-life insurance firms. HDFC also offers clients everything from the range of exclusive banking services and mutual funds to sophisticated fixed-income products, private equity and structured products.

Looking ahead, Singh says the focus is on accelerated digitalization and honing its Valuefy product – an advanced analytical tool to customize the client experience in transferring wealth from generation to generation.

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