Best domestic private bank in the Philippines 2023
Metrobank has kept its crown as best domestic private bank in the Philippines in an increasingly crowded market.
Even as inflation hampered economic growth and rising interest rates slammed fixed income and equities alike, the bank’s private wealth division reported strong growth in assets under management, or AUM – up 28% from 2021 to about $5.5 billion last year. Since the division was set up in 2016, AUM jumped 33% and income by 35% on a compound annual growth basis.
Lizette Perez is Metrobank’s head of private wealth. Under her guidance, the team uses a targeted customer acquisition programme for private wealth clients that leverages the strengths of Metrobank’s broader financial network. That includes an expanding roster of relationship managers, innovative investment offerings, digital channels and better cost efficiency. The firm improved its cost-to-income ratio to 13.5% in 2022 from 30.8% in 2016.
Consistency is also working wonders for Metrobank. It was the first local bank to adopt international private banking standards of requiring minimum client assets under management of P100 million ($2 million). The bank is also staying true to its pledge of giving ultra-high net-worth clients the best integrated customer experience on all touchpoints.
Although the Covid-19 era was rough on the broader industry, Metrobank used the disruption as an opportunity to build up its internal muscle. It put relationship managers, or RMs, under stringent certification and training programmes, for instance. That boosted quality and efficiency in product areas such as treasury and trust, basic derivatives, cash management, loans packaging and consumer lending.
To keep customer service staff on their toes, RMs regularly attend market briefings, product teach-ins, focused group discussions on new regulations, and town halls on leadership and people management. This helps to ensure that Metrobank’s rapid growth doesn’t outpace its capabilities.
To accelerate the expansion of the UHNW client base, the bank introduced a branch referral programme in March 2022, working closely with Metrobank’s branch banking sector and data analytics teams. The effort combed through about 1,500 leads with a total relationship balance of about P100 million. Thanks to this, Metrobank saw a 27% rise in the total number of private banking relationships last year.
The firm is also expanding rapidly into the family office business. Perez’s team takes on the role of a pseudo family office with responsibilities and tasks including: providing advice on wealth and estate planning; illustrating how investment structures are as important as portfolio management; and linking clients to service providers dealing with secondary citizenship, global real estate financing, estimating company valuations and advice on tax structures. The target group here is family offices with $50 million to $100 million in investable assets.
Cutting-edge digital offerings are another strength. Metrobank uses Wealth Manager, which is linked to Metrobank Online, the bank’s internet banking facility.
Wealth Manager allows clients to view outstanding treasury positions and perform portfolio analyses. It provides data for simulating asset allocations or trading strategies conveniently using desktops or mobile phones.