Best international private bank in Asia 2022
The most intriguing thing about UBS Global Wealth Management this year is how the institution continues to grow and invest in Asia.
The global “super-connector” for Asian clients, as UBS likes to describe itself, has been investing in mainland China since the 1980s and has established a multi-entity domestic platform with a broad range of licences. In October 2021, the wholly owned UBS Qianhai Wealth Management Company was granted a fund distribution licence to offer a wide range of services in Asia’s biggest economy.
In Japan, a new joint venture – UBS Sumi Trust Wealth Management Co – commenced operations in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya. This made UBS the first bank in Japan to offer global securities and wealth management capabilities, together with custody, real estate and inheritance, alongside the wealth transfer expertise of a venerable Japanese trust banking group.
It’s this keen focus on the future – despite tumultuous times – that earned UBS our award for best international private bank in Asia for 2022.
As markets quaked everywhere because of the pandemic and geopolitics, UBS managed to stay focused in laudable ways. It still provided personalized and real-time products and services for clients, tailored to best fit their shifting and divergent needs. It did so as high net worth clients found themselves adapting to banking through devices and video screens – means that they had shunned pre-Covid.
There are times when size can be a demerit. But not so for UBS, which demonstrated the ease with which the world’s largest wealth manager can collaborate across borders to deliver services and continuity. With 15 wealth management offices in 10 locations around Asia Pacific, UBS discerned investment risks and opportunities and communicated them effectively to its private banking clients – all while maintaining its status as a leader in sustainability investing.
The numbers speak for themselves, according to Amy Lo and August Hatecke, co-heads of Asia Pacific UBS Global Wealth Management. The bank racked up pre-tax profits in both the fourth quarter and the fiscal year. By the end of 2021, profit was over $1.2 billion; in the fourth quarter alone, it rose 20%, year on year.
UBS clients also benefited from healthy discretionary mandate offerings; its mandate penetration rose to 15.5% in the fourth quarter. The bank says it's recalibrating its book to focus on net new fee-generating assets, ending 2021 with $13.7 billion in these fees. It was a sizable jump over the $8.2 billion recorded in 2020.
The bank's digitalization journey, which began well before Covid-19, continued apace. UBS’s tech team has raised its game in the past two years with cutting-edge platforms such as UBS e-banking, e-trading and UBS Advisor Messaging via WeChat and WhatsApp.
Online trades on UBS platforms were up more than 90% year on year at the end of 2021. At least 70% of equity trades are now done online by clients using UBS’s digital platforms. In the first nine months of 2021, the average monthly online trading revenue was 65% higher than for the same period the previous year.
This appears to be just the beginning, however. The rollout this year of UBS Circle One, an app developed for Asia Pacific, will only increase digital trading volume. Stay tuned for more.