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AwardsAsia Private Banking Awards

Best pure play private bank in Singapore 2023

Union Bancaire Privee

In Union Bancaire Privée’s roughly 30 years in Asia, the Swiss institution has learned that many clients like to work with several different private banks, to get a range of views. The challenge for UBP, therefore, is to become their principal trusted adviser.

UBP, whose Asia CEO is Michael Blake, has made impressive inroads over the decades ensuring its relationship managers receive the first and only call that clients make when mulling investment strategy for the current and the next generation. To continue this momentum, Blake’s team offers clients both diversification options and pure-play strategies to find alpha, or benchmark beating returns, in hyper-focused assets and business lines.

It wins this year’s Asiamoney award for best pure-play private bank in Singapore thanks to its out-of-the-box portfolio positions and consistent ability to increase assets under management in good years and bad. Since 2016, its AUM growth in Asia averaged 12% per annum.

Credit goes to the agility that lies at the heart of UBP’s entrepreneurial culture. It encourages a flexible, proactive approach driven by quick decision-making and transparent roadmaps for growing wealth. UBP is finding this approach an ideal way to centre on the best opportunities and most logical risk-mitigation steps for clients.

Broadly, the model is for a high degree of coordination between the private banking and asset management teams. This boosts their collective firepower to focus on high-performance products that peers haven’t.

The last two years offered a great environment for flow trading. Now, though, the market environment requires a different approach, with more focus on alternatives and return diversifiers.

As such, UBP is philosophically a banker’s bank, says Blake. The approach is to build investment expertise around relationship managers, not technology, the idea being that tech is there to assist, but not replace bankers.

The bankers are critical, having developed a diverse range of mandates and advisory services to meet the specific goals of each individual private client.

UBP has made progress in the discretionary mandates business, as the team produces innovative and tailored solutions to respond to clients’ very high expectations. These mandates offer a range of risk profiles and come in a choice of reference currencies.

The same goes with UBP’s advisory services business, aimed at clients who want to remain in control of their investments while continuing to benefit from UBP’s financial expertise and know-how. And then there’s UBP’s prowess in racking up execution-only mandates with clients that prefer to manage assets independently.

This flexibility and customization play well with the family office crowd. UBP tends to focus on clients investing more than $10 million with the bank. Families are being drawn to UBP’s ability to marry bespoke services with the investment platform and balance sheet of a global bank.

UBP has devised a strategy that works. First, it wows clients with long-term, trusted advisory connections with their relationship managers. Once that bond gels, the team demonstrates the bank’s financial strength and stability, especially in times of heightened uncertainty. Then UBP can focus all its attention on combing the globe for customized strategies that keep clients coming back.