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Asia Private Banking Awards

Best international private bank in Asia 2020

Credit Suisse

Credit Suisse is one of the standard-bearers for private banking across Asia, winning plaudits – and a touch of envy – from global rivals while taking on Asia’s leading private banks in their local markets.

It boasts assets under management of SFr220 billion ($228.5 billion) across the region. Those assets grew by SFr8.7 billion last year. It has roughly 600 relationship managers across Asia Pacific, meaning it dwarfs most private banking operations in Asia, although Swiss rival UBS is still bigger.

Credit Suisse also has impressive breadth across the region. It has strong roots in Indonesia, planted many years ago but given strength when the firm stuck with its key clients following the Asian financial crisis. It is one of the biggest and best in Hong Kong and Singapore. It has boots on the ground in Thailand, but elsewhere in southeast Asia it has shown that key clients can be covered superbly from outside.

Francois Monnet, Head of Private Banking North Asia, Credit Suisse.jpg
Francois Monet, Credit Suisse

Senior bankers at Credit Suisse say that about 80% of their clients’ wealth sits onshore, giving them a clear temptation to rush into setting up domestic operations. But the Swiss bank has been patient, putting emphasis on slow and steady expansion of its footprint.

This includes investments in China. The bank opened a representative office in the country in 1885 but it has been a long road since then. It bought 20% of ICBC’s asset management arm in 2005. It opened a branch in Shanghai. It has recently taken a majority stake in its joint venture, Credit Suisse Founder Securities. The bank’s strategy has always been to grow both its investment banking and private banking arms in lockstep.

Credit Suisse’s wealth planning services team is a key plank of its offering to ultra-high net-worth investors, helping Asia’s wealthiest families navigate the myriad strategic, tax and investment decisions they face when planning wealth transfer.

Benjamin Cavalli, Head of Private Banking South Asia, Credit Suisse.jpg
Benjamin Cavalli, Credit Suisse

It has also launched an Asia-Pacific version of its Young Investor Programme, a five-day programme that helps prepare the scions of ultra-wealthy families for the responsibility they will face in the coming years.

The private bank is run across Asia by Francois Monnet, who manages north Asia, and Benjamin Cavalli, who runs south Asia.

The two men report directly to Helman Sitohang, chief executive of Asia, following Credit Suisse’s move to run its Asian operations as an entirely separate division. That has long appeared a smart move for a region that demands a dedicated, bespoke approach.

It is even smarter for the clients of private banks, who are likely to make these demands more than anyone.

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