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Asia Private Banking Awards

Best for wealth transfer/succession planning in the Philippines 2020

Union Bank of the Philippines

Union Bank of the Philippines is an upstart in its country’s private banking market, having only officially launched its business in March 2019, although it did offer services to high net-worth individuals before that.

Its assets under management – worth just under P20 billion ($400 million) by the end of 2019 – are tiny compared with its bigger rivals. But the bank has made some smart moves to position itself as a key adviser on wealth transfer.

There are a few challenges facing wealthy families when considering the transfer of wealth to the next generation. They include how to reduce the tax liability, what role trusts should play, how much emphasis there should be on the continuity of investments and whether or not there should be a plan in place for the generation after next. But there is also a more basic question facing many ultra-high net-worth individuals: are my children ready for the responsibility that comes with wealth?

Arlene Agustin, Head of Private Banking, UnionBank.jpg
Arlene Agustin, Union Bank of the Philippines

This is where UnionBank comes in. Under the watch of head of private banking Arlene Agustin, the bank has taken a digital-first approach: that means it is already likely to appeal to younger clients, who demand instant access to their banking services through mobile apps rather than visits to branches. But its NextGen academy is designed to show that it can also help those clients reach financial maturity.

The NextGen Academy is structured as a series of events aimed at the next generation of business leaders, mixing education with all-important networking opportunities.

UnionBank held four events between October and November. The first three covered family business succession, asset allocation and business transition across generations. The fourth was a two-day programme hosted by Swiss private bank Lombard Odier, with which UnionBank has partnered since 2016.

These events are a sensible way for UnionBank to break into the wealth transfer business.

The bank’s executives are still realistic – they are not going to be challenging BDO Private Bank for the top spot any time soon. But by putting emphasis on the next generation of clients, UnionBank is ensuring it will be among the next generation of private banks.

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