Asiamoney China's Best Wealth Managers 2019
As the wealth management industry deepens, here are the firms that stand out.
Wealth Management Firm of the Year: Noah Holdings
Founded in 2007, Noah Holdings is China’s leading wealth management service provider for 2019, focused on global wealth investment and asset allocation services for high net-worth individuals as well as enterprises.
|Wang Jingbo, Noah Holdings|
In terms of the numbers, Noah is impressive. Total assets under management of Rmb169.2 billion ($24.5 billion) at the end of last year make it the biggest non-bank wealth management firm in China; net income is Rmb3.3 billion, up 16.4% from 2017.
Noah, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, has branches in 83 mainland cities, including Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, and has overseas business offices in locations including Hong Kong, Vancouver, Silicon Valley, New York, Melbourne and Singapore.
The number of advisers working for Noah is up 18.6% to 1,583 from the previous year. These, in turn, advise almost 237,000 high net-worth individuals, providing them with integrated financial services and helping them to meet a wide range of wealth management needs, from family trusts to tax planning. Among Chinese wealth managers, Noah has built the most comprehensive range of full-service integrated financial services.
Founded by two former investment bankers, Wang Jingbo and Xander Yin Zhe, Noah operates in three segments: wealth management, asset management and internet finance. Its financial planners focus on three of China’s wealthiest regions: the Yangtze River Delta; the Pearl River Delta; and the Bohai Rim, which includes the greater Beijing area and other cities nearby.
|Yin Zhe, Noah Holdings|
Noah serves three types of client: high net-worth individuals; enterprises affiliated with high net-worth individuals; and wholesale clients. Its offers over-the-counter wealth management and over-the-counter asset management products, mutual funds and asset management plans originated in China.
It also offers wealth management and asset management products and services through its subsidiaries in Hong Kong.
In the first quarter of 2019, Noah distributed Rmb28 billion ($4.2 billion) of financial products. Through Gopher Asset Management, its asset management unit, Noah has built up AuM of Rmb171.1 billion, as of March 31, 2019.
Best Wealth Manager for Fund of Funds: Noah Holdings
Noah Holding’s subsidiary Gopher Asset Management is primarily a fund of funds (FoF) manager with total assets under management of around Rmb170 billion ($24.5 billion). The FoF has delivered an annualized rate of return ranging from 50% to 100% through various strategic stakes in more than 100 funds from around the world and 200 venture companies.
Gopher manages a parent fund of Rmb30 billion and invests the rest via mandates given to a wide range of well-known global asset managers.
“There has been fast growth of the entire business,” says Shang Chuang, Noah’s chief financial officer. A former banker with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Chuang helped Noah with its IPO in New York in 2010 just three years after its founding.
“We’ve seen difficult and volatile markets, particularly in the past two years because of a regulatory crackdown after many years of regulatory encouragement of financial innovation,” he adds. “The [US-China] trade war also has put huge pressure on the China economy and particularly private enterprises, and it’s hurt the China market. But in 2018, we still saw 20% growth in terms of assets.
“We are able to help clients to maintain growth because of our asset allocation strategies. We offer multi strategies and focus on diversification. We always help clients avoid volatility by not being only in any one asset class.”
Best Trust Firm in Wealth Management: Avic Trust
Avic Trust, co-founded by China State Aviation Industry Group and Singapore’s OCBC Bank, is one of the top 10 trust companies in China. Avic caters to high net-worth individuals who want to set up family trusts. Such trusts have at least Rmb10 million ($1.4 million) in assets, and Avic offers both onshore and offshore financial planning.
Founded in 2009, the company manages total trust assets of Rmb648.9 billion, and over the last decade has helped its clients make net gains of Rmb112 billion. Even though it is not the biggest trust company, Avic has been one of the most innovative in terms of providing services for women clients: 63% of Avic’s customers are women, and Avic caters to them in 20 wealth management centres across China.
Avic has wealth management centres in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Chongqing and Chengdu, as well as in secondary cities where large numbers of entrepreneurs have prospered. It hosts family and charitable trust activities to help clients manage their wealth and share it with good causes.
Given the rapid development of digital finance and the rise of service trusts in China, Avic Trust, led by its chairman Yao Jiangtao, has launched a number of innovative wealth management solutions integrating financial management trusts, wealth trusts, and family trusts. It also is actively forging ties with a range of investment banking partners as it aims to provide its clients with a wider range of what it calls “multi-tools” to handle investments in multi-asset classes in markets both onshore and offshore China.
Best Independent Wealth Manager for High Net-Worth Individuals: CreditEase Wealth Management
CreditEase, led by founder and chief executive Tang Ning, has assets under management of more than Rmb109 billion ($16 billion), up more than 13% from a year ago. It serves more than 30,000 high net-worth customers, as well as several hundred thousand mass-affluent investors, and has more than 1,200 full-time account managers, 60% of whom have professional wealth advisory certificates.
It has offices around the world, including in Hong Kong, Singapore, New York, London and Israel, and its expertise spans insurance, investment immigration, and onshore and offshore family trusts. Its own asset management unit manages more than Rmb30 billion, of which one fifth is in dollar assets.
CreditEase also works with many of the world’s leading investment managers and venture capital firms.
It helps clients to invest both onshore and offshore in various asset classes. In private equity, its AuM exceed Rmb20 billion. In real estate, it manages the biggest domestic real estate fund investment platform with the largest and most complete product line. In capital markets, it provides investors with short- and medium-term liquidity. Its advisers help clients analyze and grasp the linkage between different asset classes so they can capture rising trends and manage risks.
Best Securities House in Wealth Management: CICC
CICC is one of China’s leading investment banks. It also is one of the nation’s leading securities firms catering to high net-worth individuals.
CICC, led by chief executive Bi Mingjian, has more than 47,000 high net-worth clients as of year-end 2018, up 22% from the previous year; customer account total assets amounted to Rmb709 billion ($103 billion), down 3.7% in the same period. CICC serves more than 2.92 million households, who control a total of Rmb1.98 trillion in net wealth.
The firm launched its wealth management business in 2007 – one of the first Chinese securities firms to enter this field. As a pioneer, CICC first introduced a wealth management model driven by consulting services to provide tailor-made products and services to high net-worth individuals, families and corporate customers: over the years, it has acquired a reputation for its analysts’ investment research.
Backed by its biggest shareholder, the sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp, CICC has expanded rapidly. By 2018, CICC it had 17 branches and 228 sales offices in 29 provincial-level urban centres. In Hong Kong, it provides both overseas and Hong Kong securities market financial products and services.
CICC Wealth Management focuses on medium-term and long-term value investments, helping clients to safeguard the sustainability of their investment performance.
Best Wealth Manager for Overseas Asset Management: CreditEase Wealth Management
CreditEase Wealth Management enables many high net-worth Chinese individuals to invest in offshore real estate, as well as helping them with immigration planning, tax planning and legal consulting. It operates investment offices around the world.
Among Chinese wealth managers, CreditEase is the best equipped to provide a one-stop advisory service for those affluent Chinese who wish to invest or live overseas. The firm also has a strong track record when it comes to helping its clients set up offshore family trusts, and provides additional support for clients with a range of training and education programmes.
CreditEase operates an investment advisory company in Hong Kong, where its team holds a Class 4, or securities consulting licence, and a category 9, or asset management licence. It also operates an investment subsidiary in Singapore.
In Israel, for example, CreditEase’s subsidiary team members hold a venture capital and private equity fund managers licence. In the US, the CreditEase team holds an investment advisory licence accredited with the US Securities and Exchange Commission as well as with regulators in various states.
Best Wealth Manager for Family Office Services: CreditEase Wealth Management
CreditEase Wealth Management enables high net-worth families to set up family offices at lower cost, helping them incorporate their values and philosophy from the outset. It also provides the second-generation members with a wide range of training opportunities, including offshore education.
CreditEase investment advisers often escort their family trust clients on trips to help them gain knowledge and expertise in managing family wealth across the generations. CreditEase operates an internal business school that is dedicated to providing high-end educational resources at home and abroad for its high net-worth clients.
Since 2014, CreditEase has organized a wide range of coursework for clients all over China. It also hosts seminars and entrepreneurial ‘growth camps’ at top institutions such as Tsinghua University’s prestigious School of Economics and Management, Peking University, and Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou.