The Digital Banker - TDB - Blog

TDB Digest – What’s Cooking in the FinTech and Banking Industry (Issue 4)

Fintech News

  • Varo Money – a US based consumer Fintech was granted the national bank charter and received regulatory nod to open Varo Bank N.A. This charter will allow Varo to provide comprehensive, FDIC-insured banking services to customers and is the  first-of-its-kind approval for consumer fintech in the  United States.

FinTech Funding Continues

  • Remitly – a pioneer in cross-border payments, recently announced an $85 million funding round that pushes its valuation to $1.5 billion. With this round the Fintech has officially become a unicorn. The Series F funding round was led by Prosus’ PayU with existing backers such as DN Capital, Generation Investment Management, Owl Rock Capital, Princeville, Stripes, Threshold Ventures, and Top Tier also investing.
  • Transferwise – pioneering international money transfer service, has recently disclosed that it is now worth USD 5 billion. This new valuation is a 43% increase from May 2019’s valuation and was achieved through secondary share sales worth USD319 million. This share sale was led by existing investors as well as new ones such as D1 Capital Partners and Vulcan Capital.
  • Volante Technologies – a leading provider of cloud based payments and financial messaging solutions has raised USD35 million in growth equity financing from Wavecrest Growth Partners with strategic participation by BNY Mellon, Citi Ventures, PostePay and Visa Inc. The capital raised will be used to drive cloud expansion across multiple market segments and geographies.
  • StashAway – a digital wealth management platform for both retail and accredited investors based in Singapore has recently announced that it raised USD 16 million Series C fundraising round led by Square Peg and early investors such as Alibaba and Eight Roads Ventures and new investor firms such as Burda Principal Investments, Hubert Burda Media participating in this round. This round will drive product development and cater to more countries around the region.

BigTech and Banks Collaborating

  • Google has partnered with a total of 8 banks in the US to offer digital banking services to bank customers in US. With this partnership Google will provide enhanced user-experience and use data to drive financial insights while the banks will provide digital checking accounts which are FDIC insured. This is in line with Google’s foray into the banking where the company is exploring collaborations with banks through Google Pay.

 

Travel in Peace: How Aman Caters to the Ultra Luxe Traveler

Travel in Peace: How Aman Caters to the Ultra Luxe Traveler

When considering where to take up your next post-pandemic vacation experience, one would do well to consider one of Aman’s superbly appointed and luxuriously spacious resorts around the world. Currently with 32 resorts in 20 countries and expanding to 40 resorts in 22 countries in the near future, Aman is maintaining its sense of exclusivity while adapting its offering to meet the needs of the modern ultra-luxury wayfarer.

We spoke with Aman’s Chief Operating Officer, Roland Fasel. Over his career Roland has had the singular focus of developing the worlds ultra-luxury hotel segment with many of the names synonymous with luxury accommodation. In these unprecedented times, Roland steers Aman into the future.

GPB: How would you describe the current shape of your industry, the consumer demands and how do you think these will change in the future?

Roland Fasel, Chief Operating Officer

Roland Fasel: One of the biggest challenges has been the uncertainty around when restrictions will be lifted and when borders or air travel will return, as every country is different. We expect that the pandemic will continue to reverberate through the industry for some time, but in the meantime,

we are focused on our short, mid and long-term plans. The demand for our hotels is mainly domestic and short haul at the moment but as countries open up this will change. For both domestic and international guests we have seen a significant increase in those driving to our destinations and flying privately such as German guests driving to Aman Venice.

GPB: Luxury travel has seen a surge of entrants and brands constantly looking to innovate, how has the Aman group lead the industry?

Roland Fasel: It is important to go back to Aman’s roots as the pioneer in this ultra-luxury and niche segment of hideaway resorts. In numerous ways, the generosity of space and efforts to slow down time, have always been firmly ingrained in Aman’s DNA, from the architecture and design of standalone pavilions with private pools, to the low room count and subtle service which now makes the brand a blueprint for the future of travel.

GPB: How do you expect the post COVID-19 luxury travel market to evolve over the next 12 months? and when do you anticipate a return to ‘normal’?

Roland Fasel: It’s too early to say when things will return to ‘normal’, however in the short term we have seen an increase in guests wanting to drive or fly privately to our destinations as well as a demand for in-room dining, medical wellness, experiences in nature and privacy. It will be interesting to see if these trends are still present as we approach the end of year and the popular festive period when usually larger groups spend time together. We believe that people may choose to travel less, but seek that one very special trip instead.

We have some really exciting developments in the pipeline, but we always make sure their concept is connected back to Aman’s roots as a brand.

GPB: What new trends are you foreseeing and how are you positioning the Aman group to take advantage of them?

Roland Fasel: During this pandemic, people have realised how important and valuable good health is. Travellers want to stay in places where you can improve your mental and physical wellbeing through retreats such as our Journey to Peace retreat at our Indochina properties. Medical wellness and preventative treatments are another focus we are already receiving enquiries for the Holistic Wellness Centre at Amanpuri which reopened 1 July. We have also launched a series of Immune Support retreats across several of our properties such as Amanbagh, India and Amanemu, Japan. Villas have always been a focus for Aman, over a third of our properties have residences, and in recent weeks we have seen an increase in demand for example at our property Amanzoe, Greece. It’s definitely a key area we continue to focus on, all our future openings have villas or apartments as part of the development We are also seeing an increase in long-stay bookings in our villas – families who are wanting to spend quality time together after being apart. The idea of a self-contained and fully staffed villa is especially appealing at this time.

GPB: With commercial travel being impacted, what do you see the role of private charter in assisting both business and leisure travel?

Roland Fasel: In November last year, we launched the Aman Private Jet as a result of seeing a demand in the number of clients wanting to travel in consummate privacy. It was a natural progression for Aman to offer this capability and take its renowned experience and un-parrelled levels of service to the skies, providing ease of travel between not only our resorts, but non-Aman destinations too. As a result of the crisis, this demand has only increased and we look forward to offering this service to more of our guests for both their business and leisure travel.

GPB: Anything new on the horizon that we should look forward to?

Roland Fasel: We have some really exciting developments in the pipeline, but we always make sure their concept is connected back to Aman’s roots as a brand. For example, Aman New York which will have one of the largest outdoor terraces allowing for extensive al fresco dining and another Aman Bangkok, located next of one of the capital’s largest green spaces.

***

Aman has reopened a number of its properties globally and is set to continue over the coming weeks. To enquire about preferential rates at an Aman property or for investment opportunities at Aman Residences, please contact us.

The Digital Banker - TDB - Blog

TDB Digest – What’s Cooking in the FinTech and Banking Industry (Issue 3)

Fintech and Banks Collaborating

  • Traxpay and Deutsche Bank: Duetsche Bank last week announced that it the bank invested in a Frankfurt based Fintech – Traxpay, a financing platform offering solutions such as dynamic discounting and supply chain financing. The investment is a strategic one as as Deutsche Bank will now avail the platform’s technology to expand its supply chain finance offering. For Traxpay, this investment could lead to future collaboration with other banks.
  • Synalogik and Natwest Group: Synalogik – a company providing Saas  service through automation of compliance and regulation procedures in line with FCA guidelines, recently announced that Natwest Group was their latest customer to use the SCOUT platform.  The Natwest Group which consist of Natwest Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, Ulster Bank, etc will now use Scout across all their compliance teams to ensure enhanced security checks, due diligence and better risk assessment.
  • National Bank of Pakistan and Codebase Technologies: National Bank of Pakistan recently upgraded its pool management system to Codebase Technologies’ DigiBancTM PoolSmart. The new PoolSmart ensures the digital transformation through enhance profit distribution, multi-currency management and data driven insights into customer portfolios. 

Sustainability Banking

  • Bank of the West, a BNP Paribas subsidiary has partnered with 1% for the Planet to introduce a customer checking account in aide of climate change. The bank announced that the account is a first of its kind and will have “climate action features such as a carbon tracking tool, biodegradable card, and will donate 1% of account revenues to environmental non-profit partners of 1% for the Planet at no cost to customers.”

Fintech Growth in LATAM

  • Fintech investment has seen exponential growth over the last three years and Latin America has been at the forefront of this. With a large, if not a majority population which is unbanked, the demand for digital transformation has grown leading to innovation and Fintech growth. However the lack of regulations and laws have been a pain point. Nonetheless the region has seen a surge in investments, with Brazil accounting for over 60% of investments in 2019.

COVID-19 Pandemic and The Era of Responsible Banking

COVID-19 Pandemic and The Era of Responsible Banking

An industry that has been able to weather crises such as SARS, Ebola, 9/11, Asian financial meltdown and of course, the 2008 financial crisis, otherwise known as The Great Recession, is nothing less than resilient. Amidst the ongoing uncertainty brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the banking industry is once again facing an enormous challenge, the likes of which are totally unprecedented in scale.

Instantly, the impact on the economy started to reverberate across all regions. According to The Center for Global Development, an international think tank that focuses on international development, “travel restrictions and lockdowns imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19 continue to impact the economic outlook for low- and middle-income countries.”

In Asia and the Pacific, economic growth is expected to decline by 2.7 percent in 2020 (down from last year’s 3.6 percent growth) and is seen as the most significant fall since the near-zero growth rate logged in 2009 during the global financial crisis, according to APEC. In addition, Asia-Pacific will also see a 50% decrease in passenger demand this year compared to last year. As a result, airline passenger revenues is estimated to record a revenue decline of $113bn compared to last year.

DBS, Southeast Asia’s largest bank, reports a 29% drop in first-quarter year-over-year net profits, setting aside $772.5 million “to cover potential losses from the coronavirus pandemic.”

Meanwhile, Latin America may experience a contraction of income between 11% and 22% according to a simulation by the Bank of Spain. Moody’s predicts a 6% contraction for Argentina’s economy for 2020, 5.2% for Brazil and 7% for Mexico.

Brazilian government minister Salim Mattar estimates that “the unemployment rate in [Brazil] may even double due to the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the economy.”

Not spared from economic shocks, Africa’s growth is also estimated to slow to 1.8 percent in the best-case scenario or to contract to -2.6 percent in the worst-case scenario from the 2.9 percent in 2019 and the pre-pandemic 2020 forecast of 3.2 percent, according to The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

Overall, the World Bank warn that “COVID-19 is likely to cause the first increase in global poverty since 1998 when the Asian Financial Crisis hit.”

“Global poverty — the share of the world’s population living on less than $1.90 per day — is projected to increase from 8.2% in 2019 to 8.6% in 2020, or from 632 million people to 665 million people,” World Bank adds.

Overall, the World Bank warns that “COVID-19 is likely to cause the first increase in global poverty since 1998 when the Asian Financial Crisis hit.

The Era of Responsible Banking

Since 2008, in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, banks have made significant steps to take action and create products that are better aligned with the social and environmental values of the clients, not just because regulators have demanded it, but because society expects it. Moreover, it has proved to be beneficial to the bottom line.

Formally, this is now known as Principles for Responsible Banking (PRB). The Principles for Responsible Banking were launched by 130 banks from 49 countries, representing more than USD47 trillion in assets, on 22 and 23 September 2019 in New York City, during the annual United Nations General Assembly.

At the end of March 2020, as the world sees the rapid spread of COVID-19, the PRB group called on its signatories to take action to support society and businesses in this unprecedented crisis. More than 150 banks joined the call and were in fact, doing more than what their governments are asking them to do when it comes to supporting small businesses and unemployed individuals.

The examples of how banks are helping societies during the collapse of an economy is aplenty.

For example, in the US, banks have become the predominant channel for its Paycheck Protection Programme, a $659 billion aid programme for small businesses. US regulators have also eased restriction to allow banks to tap into their capital reserves so they can continue lending.

In Switzerland, regulators and banking institutions worked together to provide loans for businesses who only need to fill out an online form and if approved, the loan could be disbursed to their accounts the next day. Likewise, in South Africa, filling in a form is not even needed as banks were allowed to adopt ‘opt-out’ models making it easier for loans to be extended. And in China, banks worked closely with regulators so loans and extensions could be fast tracked.

In mounting these unprecedented efforts to help societies, as well as prevent further deterioration of economic gains, global central banks are also stepping up to the plate and taking decisive actions.

Elsewhere, in The Netherlands, ABN Amro has extended an automatic six-month deferral on payment of principal and interest for clients with a credit facility of up to 50 million euros. And in Singapore, DBS Bank is allowing credit card holders to roll repayments into a single loan, effectively cutting rates from more than 20% to high single digits.

In mounting these unprecedented efforts to help societies, as well as prevent further deterioration of economic gains, global central banks are also stepping up to the plate and taking decisive actions. Through various measures such as rate cuts, liquidity support and easing of financial policies, the world’s central banks are playing a crucial role in preserving economic stability during this crisis.

Commitment to Move Forward

While the proverbial light the end of the tunnel may not be very clear in sight yet, COVID-19 and its impact already highlight the importance of keeping sustainability and responsibility at the forefront of banking agenda. Banks that have been committed to responsible banking are seeing good progress and are in fact, dealing better with the COVID-19 crisis.

Through the Principles of Responsible Banking, understanding the needs of all stakeholders becomes a paramount concern, and as such, it allows decision makers to understand the potential impact of any decision during a crisis.

However, any principles and proposals around responsible banking may come to naught if these aren’t backed by commitments and tangible targets. The new normal may come sooner than expected, or later than hoped. What’s important is to continue to look out for each other. After all, doing business is all about helping our customers and our people.

The Private Wealth Landscape in Mauritius and Bank One’s Approach to Wealth Management

The Private Wealth Landscape in Mauritius and Bank One’s Approach to Wealth Management

Bank One’s Guillaume Passebecq, Head of Private Banking & Wealth Management shares insights on Bank One’s approach in wealth management, the private wealth landscape in Mauritius and the crucial role digital channels play in private banking strategy. Below are the excerpts of our interview.

Can you tell us about the efficacy of Bank One’s approach in wealth management?

Guillaume Passebecq, Head of Private Banking & Wealth Management

Guillaume Passebecq: Bank One is a leading Mauritian bank with a regional footprint. Its two shareholders, Mauritian conglomerate CIEL Limited and Kenya-based I&M Holdings, have an extended presence on the African continent and banking operations in Madagascar, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda. Our shareholders’ strong footing in Africa grants us easy access to the securities markets in Kenya and Rwanda, positioning us as a favourable bridge to the booming East African market.

With our on-the-ground presence in Africa, a robust custodian network that extends over 50 countries, and with Euroclear as our main depository, all our clients; individuals, external asset managers and financial institutions; have direct access to the deep insights of our local and international experts.

We operate on a total Open Architecture model that offers best-of-breed products from multiple global providers. The collaborative nature of this model allows us to unlock a world of opportunities and deliver a diversified range of local and international solutions, including bonds, equities, ETFs, funds, and structured products. Our primary focus is the protection and growth of our clients’ wealth. Through our Open Architecture model, our clients can choose one or more independent portfolio managers, who will leverage their in-depth knowledge to deliver the desired investment objective.

Moreover, as their custodian bank, we are responsible for the safety of our clients’ securities and assets, which are recorded off-balance sheet. Our depositary, Euroclear – rated AA+ by Fitch Ratings and AA by Standard & Poor’s – is a proven and resilient provider of securities settlements.

At Bank One, we help our clients navigate the complex world of financial services by bringing forth different investment solutions. We offer both Execution Services which allows them to trade directly on all international markets by accessing our extensive network of trading specialists and Discretionary Portfolio Management (DPM) where they are able to choose an expert to oversee their financial assets.

How has the private wealth landscape in Mauritius changed over the last 5 years and what trends are emerging that may not be so apparent?

Guillaume Passebecq: The private wealth industry continues to experience significant challenges and transformation. Over the last 5 years, the industry in Mauritius has gained more exposure to international standards both in terms of pure banking products and services as well as more sophisticated investment solutions. The fact that Mauritius historically attracted and continues to attract foreign investors, is a key element of our business model. We believe that the foreign investors look for a more holistic advisory solution that encompasses their needs across a wide range of financial products and services.

Alignment with international laws and standards has also contributed to make the Mauritian Financial System more transparent and robust. Recent EU decisions are forcing Mauritius to reinvent itself as the industry’s development lies even more on internationalisation and it can adapt to those standards.

Last but not least, the local private wealth landscape has also experienced significant digitalisation efforts in recent years, with the introduction of real-time digital access and a strong custody services offer. HNW customers in particular are looking for a more hybrid approach. They want the best of both worlds as they are not ready to forego the human touch but they are also looking for a bank that can provide them with a complete digital banking experience where advisory can be provided via email or over the phone.

Over the last 5 years, the industry in Mauritius has gained more exposure to international standards both in terms of pure banking products and services as well as more sophisticated investment solutions.

How crucial of a part do digital channels and ecosystems play in Bank ONE’s strategy? What new products and/or services are your customers requesting as a result of COVID-19?

Guillaume Passebecq: From a pure banking perspective, customer behaviour and expectations are constantly evolving. They are expecting a seamless digital banking experience using mobile applications as well as a digitally-driven communication model from their financial service providers. Traditional brick and mortar are, in turn, being converted into greener and more efficient workspaces allowing for a more pleasant interaction with the customer.

Bank One has fully embraced this wave and invested massively in digital channels, as the old paradigm is no longer sufficient to maintain a competitive edge in the market. We have revisited our business strategy and operational model to invest in digital channels such as a revamped Internet Banking platform, a new Mobile Banking application, a full-fledged Custody platform and an E-advisory platform. Our strategy is focused on customer satisfaction and it is in our DNA to evolve with global market changes.

Can you see a silver lining in the midst of the Covid-19 cloud, in terms of handling customer expectations?

Guillaume Passebecq: In every crisis, clients expect more proximity from their banks and a close follow-up of their investments. This period of financial stress has brought forward the resilience of Bank One’s Open Architecture model, as multi-management investment solution can be an efficient way of reducing performance volatility.

The global economy has been experiencing dramatic changes since the fourth quarter of last year. Apart from the bitter effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic, we also witnessed negative oil prices for the first time ever. Increased ESG-related transformations, such as climate change, are starting to affect peoples’ daily habits.

We believe that the current crisis is changing the mind-set of some investors with greater emphasis on green investment given a fresh focus that looks further into the future. COVID-19 is further accelerating ESG investments, which have seen a steady increase of inflows and better-than-average returns since the beginning of the pandemic. I believe the rationale behind is that the COVID-19 crisis has put the spotlight on vulnerabilities and our dependence on the natural environment.

This crisis has also placed greater emphasis on the security of clients’ assets amidst greater risk and volatility. At Bank One, our primary focus is the protection and growth of client’s wealth and we make sure that their investments are kept off balance sheet with a trusted depository like Euroclear acting as the provider for securities settlements.

Bank One has fully embraced this wave and invested massively in digital channels, as the old paradigm is no longer sufficient to maintain a competitive edge in the market.

As a winner of Best Product Innovation at the Global Private Banking Innovation Awards 2020, what is on your immediate digital innovation wish list for Bank One?

Guillaume Passebecq: We are at a very special moment in history right now and uncertainty around the depth and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced banks to review their current processes and re-invent themselves. More than ever, we have seen that digital transformation is the key to enduring such crisis. Lockdown does not necessarily mean shut down. At Bank One, we have been able to navigate through this crisis and ensure normal banking operations are carried out thanks to the digitalisation of our internal processes.

Bank One has customer satisfaction as one of its core tenets. We believe that we can position ourselves to capitalise on the emergence digital services trend whilst adopting a customer-centric approach to stay true to our values. Digital transformation at Bank One is not a project, it is an ongoing process. It is in our DNA to continuously reassess our processes and platforms in order to meet changing customer needs and market dynamics.

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>> To read more about this story and other exclusive features about the global private banking landscape, download the latest issue of Global Private Banker Magazine HERE.

What Attracts Wealthy Entrepreneurs to Standard Chartered Private Bank

What Attracts Wealthy Entrepreneurs to Standard Chartered Private Bank

Standard Chartered Bank’s Ali Hammad, Market Head – Private Banking at Standard Chartered MENA shares insights on attracting wealthy families in the Middle East, the role of nascent technology in banking and how private wealth is dealing with the impact of COVID-19. Below are the excerpts of our interview.

What differentiates your business in the Middle East and what attracts wealthy entrepreneurs and families to Standard Chartered Private bank?

Ali Hammad: Standard Chartered has a unique position in the Middle East. We are an international bank with a unique global footprint that continues to provide clients with access to some of the biggest growth markets around the world and expertise to make the most of every opportunity.  Relationships with clients are at the heart of everything the Bank does, and its full spectrum of banking services offers clients the opportunity to grow and protect both their business and personal wealth, helping to build an enduring legacy for the future. This, importantly, is coupled with our deep-rooted history in the region, local insight, and on-ground capabilities. Additionally, despite our long-standing history, we remain innovative and are continually enhancing our services based on the current market and evolving needs of our client.

Our investment philosophy stems from the Bank’s commitment to empowering its clients to make unbiased investment decisions and make the most of their wealth, with a transparent process to curate and debate diverse insights for more objective advice. This is combined with open source access to solutions that meet their goals.

In 2019, the Bank’s growth was fuelled by strong income and Net New Money.  It was the third consecutive year of top-line growth with the business generating income of $577m, which was up 12% YoY.  It was also the third consecutive year that the business delivered positive inflows with Net New Money at $2.6bn.

Over the past year, the Private Bank has also continued to drive performance by incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations into investment decisions, the foundation of sustainable investing.  It is also one of the key pillars on which our sustainability aspirations are built to truly be a force for good.

As such, we’re recognised as an industry leader in wealth management across our key markets, specifically the MENA region.

How important of a role has nascent technology such as Machine Learning, AI and Big Data played in your firm?

Ali Hammad: From retail and private banking, to digital only banks, Standard Chartered has placed the integration of progressive and disruptive technologies at the fore of its robust offering. On the ground, financial institutions are feeling the heat of a sluggish economy. In particular, private banking institutions are heavily impacted.

Our use of state-of-the-art technologies stems across the entirety of our operations. For instance, across eight markets on the African continent, client onboarding is fully digitised and takes less than 15 minutes. A client can open a new account entirely through our award-winning SC Private Banking app anytime, anywhere – from the comfort of their own home or while on the road, thanks to the accessibility and ease of our solution.  It provides a secure means for clients to communicate with their Private Banker, access investment publications, view all registered activity and manage personal details and preferences online.  As of June 2020, the Bank has recorded around a 40% increase in client usage over the past six months.

We are continually innovating our products and services to ensure we’re able to remain ahead of the curve. For example, the Bank’s proprietary open banking platform, aXess, serves as one of our many uses of progressive technologies, wherein the platform drives connectivity and partnerships between external developers, corporates and fintechs. The platform enables participants to co-create better client products and services through the sharing of APIs and libraries.

The Private Bank has also enhanced its trading capabilities for clients with a leading FX derivatives platform, called FXD Connect.  It delivers the best solutions at competitive market prices while cutting response times by more than 90% to less than a minute.  Standard Chartered Private bank is one of the first banks to launch the FXD Connect platform, positioning the Bank as a leading FX house in the industry.

Similarly, we were among the first international banks in the UAE to launch the major wallet solutions, including Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay, giving customers the flexibility to complete mobile transactions faster, and through the wallet partner of their choice.

We will continue to invest in expanding these functionalities to evolve with our customers’ changing lifestyles and needs. These introductions, of course, could not have been plausible without the progressive abilities of tools such as AI, Big Data and Machine Learning.

Over the past year, Standard Chartered Private Bank has continued to drive performance by incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations into investment decisions, the foundation of sustainable investing.

What is your outlook on the impact of COVID-19 on the private wealth landscape over the next 12-24 months, and what critical measures has SC Private Bank taken to navigate these waters?

Ali Hammad: The impact of COVID-19 on the realm of private wealth is sizable, specifically when accounting for the extreme volatility felt across various markets and the subsequent urge to ensure sufficient liquidity during these unprecedented times. As such, the next 12-24 months will be critical as we begin to emerge from the immediate crisis and clients begin to regain their financial health. However, it would be premature to make any definite predictions so early on.

Concerning our support efforts, the Bank has taken extraordinary measures to mitigate the health, financial, societal, and economic implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bank’s support is geared towards ensuring the wellbeing and stability of our clients, our employees, and the community as a whole.

Understandably, many clients are concerned about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on their wealth, particularly with the volatility we have seen across financial markets globally during this period.  It has been a worrying time for most and, for us, being available and keeping in regular contact with clients has been critical.  The strength of our relationships and the trust built with our clients have come into their own.  We’ve been able to minimise any disruption to our client service and continue to provide expert advice and reassurance and keep clients up-to-date as the crisis evolves.

Across the wider AME region, including in the UAE, we have enacted a three-month payment holiday on existing personal loans, car loans and mortgages, with zero fees. Also, all clients can choose to pay only the interest component of their loan for a period of three months. Concerning credit card purchases, we have provided our clients the ability to receive a 50 percent reduction on cash advance fees and a refund on any foreign currency transaction fees on cancelled travel bookings. The Bank has also afforded clients the ability to convert selected fees and purchases, including hospital, school, utility, and grocery fees, into equal monthly instalments at 0 percent interest and no processing fees.

What are some of the digital capabilities your firm is investing in, as a result of client demand?

Ali Hammad: The Bank has kept its finger on the pulse of the emerging technologies sector. We are continually exploring opportunities for further integrating the latest digital capabilities to our portfolio of products and services. Our digital-only banks in Africa are a great example of this, as they were a direct-result of our clients’ demand for convenient and accessible financial services in the markets.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a bank’s ability to provide its clients with uninterrupted offerings via digital mediums was of the utmost importance. Fortunately, Standard Chartered was an early champion of digital banking and was well-positioned to provide clients with its full suite of services through its many technological offerings. A prime example of this is our real-time onboarding service, a first-of-its-kind in the UAE, wherein customers of Standard Chartered are able to sign up for an account in as little as 10 minutes through an entirely automated process.

However, looking ahead of the current crisis, digital adoption will certainly be a popular undertaking across the regional banking landscape, specifically surrounding contactless payments and mobile banking.

The young generation of today is exposed to technology in their lives more so than ever.  This brings about a certain level of expectation. They anticipate leading-edge technology solutions to manage and access their finances ‘on the go’.  It’s fairly usual for say, High Net Worth Individuals, to have multiple investment relationships across several platforms and advisors, and to require consolidation of information at the touch of a button.  Technology has made access to information much easier. Therefore, the requirement for sophisticated advice will continue to grow to help attract the next generation.

Although the Bank is a substantial player in the digital banking field, we look to further invest in emerging technologies, such as AI and Big Data, to ensure our offerings conform to the utmost standard.

Not only that but additionally being at the forefront of the latest technology helps to attract up-coming young professionals. These employees are looking for employers that are more innovative in nature, which provides a deeper sense of purpose and offers flexibility.

Which private products and services is your organisation focusing on innovating as a priority over the next year?

Ali Hammad: Across our various private services, including wealth solutions, legacy planning, and sustainable investments, we look to integrate the latest technologies, digitise our offerings, and provide our clients with flexibility that doesn’t compromise on efficiency.

However, as we slowly emerge from the current crisis, we are prioritising existing relationships with our private clients and ensuring that they are serviced and supported to the utmost standard. As I’ve previously mentioned, the Bank continues to heavily invest in the latest technologies, yet we’re also equally as invested in retaining the ‘human’ element of banking. Integrating top-of-the-line digital capabilities with elite customer service serves as the basis of our client-driven philosophy, ensuring that our clients are catered to the highest degree.

Customer satisfaction remains key to the success of our business and we are committed to seeing our clients through these turbulent times, as well as safeguard their wealth and investments. For our entrepreneurial clients, we aim to place our focus on their financial and operational health, as the current challenges continue to implicate their businesses.

The Bank’s drive to remain innovative will continue onwards, however, the current climate calls for increased attention on our clients and their endeavours.

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>> To read more about this story and other exclusive features about the global private banking landscape, download the latest issue of Global Private Banker Magazine HERE.

Bank One Pushing the Envelope in Product Innovation

Bank One: Pushing the Envelope in Product Innovation

Gone are the days when private banking used to be traditional and stodgy. Enter the age of technology and innovation. Or in the case of Bank One Private Banking, the rise of open architecture.

Bank One operates on a total Open Architecture model that offers best-of-breed products from multiple global providers. The collaborative nature of this model allows it to unlock a world of opportunities and deliver a diversified range of local and international solutions, including bonds, equities, ETFs, funds, and structured products. Being the only Private Bank in Mauritius offering an Open Architecture Wealth Management product combined with a real-time digital access and custody solution, Bank One is a true paragon of private banking innovation.

Recognising this exceptional feat, Bank One Private Banking, Wealth Management & Securities Services (Bank One) was awarded Winner, Best Private Bank – South Africa and Best Product Innovation at the Global Private Banking Innovation Awards 2020 (GPB Awards) by The Digital Banker.

Guillaume Passebecq, Head of Private Banking & Wealth Management

Considered as the industry’s most authoritative private wealth awards, The Global Private Banking Innovation Awards 2020 (GPB 2020) organised by The Digital Banker identifies and distinguishes the world’s best in class Private Banks, Family Offices and Wealth Managers that demonstrate elite levels of performance & creativity.

Among the highly respected industry experts who helped select this year’s award winners are leaders from companies such as Forrester, Protiviti and EY. Previous year’s judges include PwC, KPMG, and Fuji Xerox.

“Bank One’s strong innovative culture is a key differentiator for them in the market. Through its 100% Open Architecture platform and Live Custody Software, its customers can grow, manage and preserve their wealth optimally. By combining in-house knowledge and expertise with the best investment opportunities from asset managers globally, Bank One’s clients enjoy greater freedom, greater choice, and greater value,” said Nirav Patel, Managing Director at The Digital Banker, the organiser of the Global Private Banking Innovation Awards during the awards presentation.

In a statement, Guillaume Passebecq, Head of Private Banking & Wealth Management for Bank One Private Banking said: “We are proud to be recognised as Best Private Bank – South Africa and honoured to be awarded for Best Product Innovation by The Digital Banker. Both these awards celebrate the excellent work of our teams but also that of our external asset managers and partners. I believe that in these challenging times, the open architecture model has proven to be more resilient through better diversification of investment holdings. We shall continue to provide our private investors, institutions, external Asset Managers and family offices with tailor-made products and services to meet their financial needs.”

Open Architecture Platform

There is more to growing wealth than simply investing money. And for Bank One, bringing the best investment solutions locally and internationally is the best way to help its customers navigate the complex world of financial services.

In setting up their Open Architecture Wealth Management offer, they have on-boarded the most accomplished asset managers and best-in-class solutions from the financial marketplace. Bank One selected Euroclear as its depositary. Euroclear is rated AA+ by Fitch Ratings and AA by Standard & Poor’s and is a proven and resilient provider of securities settlements, the largest one in the world.  The message that Bank One wants to impart is simple: its clients’ investments are kept off-balance sheet thus providing customers with added peace of mind.

On the other hand, the Bank’s state-of-the-art Custody Platform draws information from multiple sources (local and international) and consolidates data in one portfolio, on one single platform. By simply logging in, Bank One customers are able to view their portfolio’s composition and obtain real-time pricing information sourced from Bloomberg, thus helping them better understand their investment life cycle and make more informed investment decisions.

Bank One operates on a total Open Architecture model that offers best-of-breed products from multiple global providers.

Making a difference in Africa and beyond

Bank One responds to today’s challenges with bespoke securities services designed to cover all the activities of the banking value chain. With its on-the-ground presence in Africa and a robust custodian network that extends over 50 countries, the client’s interests are always at the heart of Bank One.

Bank One has a direct link to global custodians and agent banks that allow them to open accounts in a wide range of markets to facilitate clients’ investment needs. The Bank has the capabilities for the safekeeping of most asset types including equities, ETFs, bonds, structured products, Mauritius Treasury Bills, mutual funds, hedge funds, money market funds and more. Its shareholders’ strong footing in Africa grants them an easy access to the securities markets in Kenya and Rwanda, positioning Bank One as a favourable bridge to the booming East African market.

For Bank One, bringing the best investment solutions locally and internationally is the best way to help its customers navigate the complex world of financial services.

Because of these, the team has counted numerous achievements, which include:

  • Development of a full-fledged Custody platform that allows clients to view their portfolios on-line and in real-time
  • The first bank to have successfully on-boarded a Mauritian Rupee Fund on the Euroclear platform and executed a subscription order. This endeavour has greatly benefited local fund managers, whose funds are now available on an international platform, allowing them to target a wider range of investors across geographical locations.
  • Founded the Investor’s Circle, a biannual networking event that brings together private investors, institutions, asset managers and service providers. The island’s very first B2B platform for finance professionals, Investor’s Circle allows players from the industry to connect, exchange ideas and address shared challenges.

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>> To read more about this story and other exclusive features about the global private banking landscape, download the latest issue of Global Private Banker Magazine HERE.

Maybank Private Purveyor of Innovation in the ASEAN Region

Maybank Private: Purveyor of Innovation in the ASEAN Region

Probably no one understands the ASEAN market better than Maybank. Being an ASEAN based bank with on-ground operations in all 10 ASEAN nations, it is well-positioned to connect clients to and from this region with the rest of the world. Maybank Private has strategically expanded its business footprint aggressively across ASEAN and beyond. With three onshore booking centres firmly established in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong, it offers HNW clients across the region direct access to regional and global investment opportunities. A solid proposition that allows Maybank Private to punch above its weight.

Having been bestowed 8 major awards at the Global Private Banking Innovation Awards 2020 by The Digital Banker only proves that Maybank Private is destined for bigger things to come. The awards include:

  • Winner, Best Private Bank Overal ASEAN
  • Winner, Most Innovative Business Model
  • Winner, Outstanding Young Private Banker – Lawrence Hoo
  • Winner, Outstanding Young Private Banker – Kenny Liu
  • Winner, Outstanding Young Private Banker – Nick Goh
  • Winner, Best Private Bank for Islamic Services (Maybank Islamic)
  • Highly Acclaimed, Outstanding Technology Implementation – Back End
  • Highly Acclaimed, Best Private Bank for Client Experience

The Global Private Banking Innovation Awards 2020 (GPB 2020) organised by The Digital Banker identifies the world’s best in class Private Banks, Family Offices and Wealth Managers. They are the elite performers when it comes to Fixed Income, Structured Investments, Family Office Services, Cash Management, Islamic Finance and more.

Among the highly reputable line up of judges who helped select this year’s award winners are respected subject-matter experts from companies such as Forrester, Protiviti and EY. Previous year’s judges include PwC, KPMG, and Fuji Xerox.

Being an ASEAN based bank with on-ground operations in all 10 ASEAN nations, Maybank is well-positioned to connect clients to and from this region with the rest of the world.

“Maybank Private is supported by a strong team of Investment Consultants with a good mix of backgrounds, each with a slight skew in forte, while being competent in all asset classes. The team’s approach of adopting a regional perspective on on-boarding, servicing and referring of eligible clients paves the way for a total banking experience free from any conflict or ‘territorial’ mindset. As a result, its customer’s interest is always at heart,” said Nirav Patel, Managing Director at The Digital Banker, the organiser of the Global Private Banking Innovation Awards in a statement.

Commenting on the award, Mr. Alvin Lee, Maybank’s Head of Group Wealth Management and Community Financial Services Singapore, remarked: “As a bank with a full-fledged ASEAN presence, we deployed a strategy to leverage our universal banking model across our network to offer unique value propositions. These awards bear testament to the hard work put in by our resilient and tight-knit team over the years as we build our brand name in the wealth management franchise in Asia.”

Highlighting the importance of providing clients with immeasurable value, Dato’ John Chong, Maybank’s Group CEO of Community Financial Services further added that, “Maybank plans to ride on this momentum to scale the business, accelerate Total Financial Assets and Investment penetration by strengthening our product propositions and leveraging strategic synergies across business divisions to provide our clients with impactful investment solutions.”

Maybank Private’s Digital Roadmap

Maybank Private’s innovative business model relies heavily on its digital roadmap that aims to elevate customer experience to a higher level. Its Avaloq Wealth Management System is at the heart of this strategy. Avaloq is a fully integrated front-middle-back office system which allows automation and straight-through processing to boost its business performance. It equips Client Advisors with a 360-degree view of their clients’ banking relationship with Maybank, allowing a more holistic approach to client management.

Complementing this is the Maybank Wealth Mobile App which empowers customers to manage their finances by providing a consolidated view of their financing portfolio with the Bank. Equipped with secure biometric technology, it provides direct access to their Client Advisors any time, any day. As a result of these digital initiatives, average investment fees per quarter has increased to a whopping 378% from 2015 to 2019.

Maybank Private adopts an open architecture products platform which enables them to screen and source for products from the best providers globally for its clients. Its mantra of ensuring that the best performing products, best investment advisory and best execution services are provided to its clients all the time is keeping the team in good stead as it navigates the competitive market of the ASEAN region.

Maybank plans to ride on this momentum to scale the business, accelerate Total Financial Assets and Investment penetration by strengthening our product propositions.

Best ASEAN Private Bank

Leveraging on Maybank Group’s strength and presence in ASEAN and key financial centres, Maybank Private has strategically expanded its business footprint aggressively across ASEAN and beyond.

Maybank Private has a deep and extensive presence in Malaysia with Private Wealth Centres in four major cities, namely Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu and access to over 350 Maybank’s branch network across the country.

Private Wealth London Desk is also a strategic gateway to European markets. The UK has seen a growing number of HNW investors from Southeast Asia. Being one of the most matured financial centres in the world, Private Wealth London Desk serves as a strategic gateway for Maybank Private to connect its clients closer to opportunities in the European markets. The onshore presence of its Private Wealth London office and relationship managers ensure all client’s needs are taken care of seamlessly. Cross-border offerings such as overseas mortgage loans for London properties is one of Maybank Private’s key value propositions.

Maybank’s ASEAN/ASIAN Network is vast:

  • Malaysia – 354 retail branches, 6 investment banking branches
  • Singapore – 18 retail branches, 2 investment banking branches
  • Indonesia – 374 retail branches, 11 investment banking branches
  • Philippines – 73 retail branches, 1 investment banking branch
  • Cambodia – 21 retail branches
  • Pakistan – 1,598 retail branches (via associate MCB Bank Ltd)
  • Vietnam – 165 retail branches (via associate An Binh Bank)
  • Thailand – 30 investment banking branches
  • Greater China – 5 retail branches, 1 investment banking branch
  • Brunei – 2 retail branches
  • Laos – 2 retail branches
  • Myanmar – 1 retail branch
  • Dubai – 1 Islamic branch

Over 60 years, Maybank Group has focused on building deep and solid relationships with its corporate and individual clients across all the ASEAN countries. This has provided Maybank Private the foundation to leverage on these relationships and entrench it further by providing additional value propositions. With this advantage, its number of clients has grown exponentially. Total Financial Assets (TFA) have also grown to US$ 14.2 billion, a CAGR of 30% over a five year period.

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>> To read more about this story and other exclusive features about the global private banking landscape, download the latest issue of Global Private Banker Magazine HERE.

 

 

Standard Chartered Private Bank Living the Brand Promise

Standard Chartered Private Bank: Living the Brand Promise

While most brands can boast of an unforgettable, or even cleverly written tagline, one bank is consistently going far beyond to live up to its brand promise, Here for good. Standard Chartered Private Bank enjoys a rich history of over a century in the Middle East. More recently, it has been the title sponsor for some of the most prestigious events in the region. In particular, the Dubai Polo Gold Cup where SC Private Bank’s top leaders met and interacted with the crème de la crème of the region’s clients. Such landmark events resonate with its clients and build trust and confidence – key ingredients for business success in the region. For Standard Chartered, its brand promise is an honest commitment, for good.

It comes as no surprise that Standard Chartered Private Bank was adjudged Winner, Best Private Bank Middle East at the Global Private Banking Innovation Awards 2020 (GPB Awards) by The Digital Banker. Considered as the industry’s most authoritative private wealth awards, The Global Private Banking Innovation Awards 2020 (GPB 2020) organised by The Digital Banker identifies and distinguishes the world’s best in class Private Banks, Family Offices and Wealth Managers that demonstrate elite levels of performance & creativity.

Among the highly respected line up of judges at this year’s awards ceremony are industry luminaries from companies such as Forrester, Protiviti and EY. Previous year’s judges include PwC, KPMG, and Fuji Xerox.

“Standard Chartered Private Bank excels on the traditional values of Private Banking, such as good service, discretion and investment advice. In addition, they are strengthening their presence through digital capability and keen focus on sustainability. Offering a unique suite of products and proprietary tools in this space, SC Private Bank has enabled its customers to reach both their investing and social impact goals,” said Nirav Patel, Managing Director at The Digital Banker, the organiser of the Global Private Banking Innovation Awards.

Standard Chartered Private Bank excels on the traditional values of Private Banking, such as good service, discretion and investment advice.

Making an Impact in Sustainability Goals

Standard Chartered Private Bank enjoys a rich history of over a century in the Middle East. During this period and through its deep involvement in the achievement of its clients goals, they have tailored an offering that matches the unique needs of those wealthy clients in the Middle East to help them preserve and grow their wealth.

SC Private Bank launched the Standard Chartered Sustainable Linked Deposits, which was earmarked to support and fund sustainable programmes globally and in the Middle East. Its clients in the Middle East region have also been beneficiaries of its innovative ESG funds, targeting impact investments as well as sustainable bonds and cash deposits. At a Group level, its Sustainability Aspirations have been set as annual and multi-year performance targets aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Each Aspiration contains one or more performance measures. These are tracked to determine the percentage and proportion of all measures that have been achieved or are on track to deliver at the end of a period. In 2019, the group’s achievement stands 93.1% (rising from 90.9% in 2018).

The Bank has seen a sharp acceleration in assets under management in 2019 and even more so in 2020 as the COVID 19 crisis continues to unfold.

Some of the most notable accomplishments that have been achieved:

  • Developed a market leading product proposition in sustainable investing space which includes discretionary portfolios, sustainable structured products, ESG funds, targeted impact investments, alternative investments as well as sustainable bonds and cash deposits.
  • Partnered with firms that have the same values, and share a common sustainability focus so that a new ecosystem of like-minded corporate entities and wealthy families can be created. For example, they worked closely with the Al Habtoor Polo Club and Standard Chartered was the title sponsor of the 2020 Dubai Polo Gold Cup, as well as sponsorship of the DUBAI Marathon for the past 12 years.
  • Committed a US$1 billion of financing for companies that provide goods and services to help the fight against Covid-19, and those planning the switch into making products that are in high demand to fight the global pandemic.
  • Created a global fund of up to $50 million, which will provide relief assistance to those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, followed subsequently with recovery funding. The Group said that it will immediately donate US$25 million to support emergency relief in the most affected markets.

Inspiring confidence within the community

Such engagements brought Standard Chartered Private Bank closer to its clients and their families. Its success in connecting with clients and wealthy families in the region and gaining more of their trust and confidence, is helping the Bank to rapidly increase its client base. The Bank has also seen a sharp acceleration in assets under management in 2019 and even more so in 2020 as the COVID 19 crisis continues to unfold. The first quarter of this year has seen record revenues generated and a sharp increase in assets under management.

This is reflected in part in the recently published market reports and announcements showing the stellar results of SC Private Bank. This success has also garnered confidence internally to invest and expand its Middle East private banking team. In 2019, the Bank announced hiring of 16 new Senior Bankers and managers in London and Dubai to further deepen its market coverage and enhance its breadth of products.

In the year of significant social disruption, driven by a global pandemic and its consequences, Standard Chartered Private Bank exemplifies the importance of sustainability in helping communities recover. By being at the forefront of innovation in this space, SC Private Bank has consistently proved that its core strength will never waiver for it’s all about empowering people and supporting their growth.

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>> To read more about this story and other exclusive features about the global private banking landscape, download the latest issue of Global Private Banker Magazine HERE.

 

Image: mohamed alwerdany / Shutterstock.com

NBO night view

National Bank of Oman: Redefining Private Banking in the Middle East

National Bank of Oman (NBO), founded in 1973, is the first local commercial bank in the Sultanate of Oman. Today, it is one of the leading banks in Oman. The Bank’s wealth management and private banking proposition, known as ‘Sadara’, is designed to meet the banking and investment needs of its high net worth clients by offering customised solutions and personalised services.

Responding to the increasing demand for exclusive banking services across the Sultanate, NBO has continued to expand and enhance its product offerings, especially its digital capabilities. Recently, NBO became the first local bank to launch Yield Enhancement Structured Products and Systematic Investment Plan (SIP) focused on the global financial markets to help customers streamline their investments and create wealth to meet their long-term financial goals.

For these notable achievements, it is only fitting that National Bank of Oman was declared Highly Acclaimed for the Best Private Bank – Middle East Award at the Global Private Banking Innovation Awards 2020 (GPB 2020), organised by The Digital Banker.

When it comes to areas such as Family Office Services, Discretionary Services, Fixed Income, ESG, Structured Investments, Islamic Finance and more, the Global Private Banking Innovation Awards 2020 (GPB 2020) organised by The Digital Banker sets the standard. Known as the world’s most prestigious and transparently judged private wealth awards, GPB Awards always distinguishes the world’s best of the best.

This year’s select panel of judges include industry experts from companies such as Forrester, Protiviti and EY. Previous year’s judges include PwC, KPMG, and Fuji Xerox.

“NBO offers a wide range of products and solutions to help them meet their client’s life goals. It has core products portfolio, focused primarily on long-term strategic asset allocation, for its clients consisting of Mutual Funds and Fixed Income Securities. It also offers market first “Yield Enhancement Structured Products” and “Systematic Investment Plan”, a goal-based savings plan with avenues to invest systematically into the global financial markets. Surely, saying that NBO is redefining private banking in the Middle East is an understatement,” said Nirav Patel, Managing Director at The Digital Banker, the organiser of the Global Private Banking Innovation Awards during the awards presentation.

Sadara Wealth Management

NBO’s Sadara Wealth Management offers a higher level of service in every aspect of banking. Its personalised products provide customers with better ways to build and manage their wealth by providing dedicated relationship managers that save clients’ time by servicing all their financial needs under one roof. This is evidenced by the strong growth of this segment in terms of deposits, investment revenues and new-to-bank customers in the last 4 years.

Avinash Menon, Head – Wealth Management Products and Governance

Sadara Wealth Management maintains a distinctive approach to customer relationship management, where it is not limited to financial products and services. Rather, understanding its clients’ personal preferences, maintaining a strong bond and delivering exceptional level of hospitality and care that reflects the warmth of the Omani values.

The Sadara Wealth Management and Private Banking Division uses a dedicated system called Wealth Management System, which has gone through a significant upgrade. The state-of-the-art Wealth Management System now has the capability to offer diversified products across various client segments, an end-to-end automation from client on-boarding to fulfilment, including full integration with its core banking solution.

In addition, it has also enabled its wealth management customers to be serviced through a dedicated mobile banking app for investment solutions, brokerage, local market investment, one touch register to purchase and more.

Sadara is a critical part of NBO’s retail banking business and constitutes a sizable portion of its income. It helped bring in the following impressive results:

  • Investment revenue increased by 16% year-on-year
  • Investment client universe increased by 65% year-on-year
  • NBO’s AUM increased by 35% year-on-year
  • NBO now holds 15% market share in AUM in the affluent segment within a span of 4 years of offering WM capabilities

Private Banking Landscape in Middle East

 In these trying times, NBO is very strategic in its approach to wealth management in the Middle East. In an interview with Avinash Menon, Head Investment Products and Governance, he described NBO’s push towards digitisation:

“Even during these difficult times, our strategy is simple. We had to use available technology to remain connected to our clients. We stayed in touch over phone calls, video calls and emails to ensure they were fully aware of what was happening in the market and in particular, the health of their portfolios. Indeed, we see a spike in the number of new clients to on-board in the first half of this year, which is always welcoming. This is attributed to both the reputation we built in the market over the last few years, as well as the distressed, fire-sale prices securities were trading at.”

The exponential digital financial services demand growth needs to be looked at in the context of the exponential increase in the total addressable market for wealth management globally. In the case of NBO, it has an equation that self-balances building digital capabilities for an addressable market. This reference is made directly to the Sultanate of Oman as it is growing with a non-linear slope.

Mr. Menon further explains: “We commenced our digital readiness journey early last year. Some of the signals we picked up from the Sultanate of Oman and the region indicated that Wealth Management may no longer be a ‘push’ business; but may gradually transform into a ‘customer pull’ segment.

“Some of the factors that accelerate digital readiness demand are lower-for-much-longer interest rates, improved financial literacy, rapid rise of web content, democratisation of knowledge, access to DIY (Do It Yourself) platforms and lastly, a growing pool of highly talented Private Bankers and Financial Advisors who understand that ‘digitisation’ does not diminish their roles, but will instead aid them to move higher up in the value chain to handle more complexity for their clients.”

He further added that “while the pandemic may have accelerated the Wealth Management businesses into ‘knee-jerk reaction’, we stayed ahead of the curve on digital transformation.”

While the pandemic may have accelerated the Wealth Management businesses into ‘knee-jerk reaction’, we stayed ahead of the curve on digital transformation.

For Mr. Menon, the outlook for Middle East’s private banking landscape is positive. “We believe, in the next 12 to 24 months, we will start seeing local banks in the region go from being under-dogs to dominant players in the Private Banking space mirroring the trend in the UAE.

“Another trend, which is growing globally, is the focus on creating sustainable growth in the Private Banking business by adopting best governance practices. After all, the client needs to always be at the center of the business,” he stressed.

Wessam Abdul Monem Al Asfoor
Head of Sadara Wealth Management & Private Banking

 

An Exceptional Year

By all indications, NBO is headed for another great year as it builds upon the gains achieved in previous year. Wessam Abdul Monem Al Asfoor, Head of Sadara Wealth Management & Private Banking further elaborated on this.

“In general, 2019 was a particularly good year for the industry. The market sentiment was bullish throughout. The market returns of 2019 were also aided by the troughs formed in Q4 2018. For a relatively nascent business, most of our clients were witnessing their first major market correction in Q4 2018.

“We focused on what we do best, which is staying close to our clients and understanding their needs. For example, we reinforced their long-term portfolio goals. This kind of discussions helped us understand how we can better benefit our clients. We were also able to reassure and get them through a hostile spell of market turbulence.”

“Furthermore, in 2019, we developed our first-ever market outlook report. The in-house written guide helped our team of Wealth Advisors and Relationship Managers navigate the market. It was truly an exceptional year for us.”

Having been recognised as Highly Acclaimed for the Best Private Bank Middle East accolade at the Global Private Banking Innovation Awards 2020, Mr. Wesam Al Asfoor expressed delight as he shares what private wealth customers can expect from NBO in the coming months.

“Sadara Wealth Managementand Private Banking offers a customised experience for our exclusive banking customers with an expanded range of investment, insurance products and brokerage services that makes financial management more personal and comfortable.”

“Our approach to customer relationship management is distinct, where it is not limited to financial products and services but also a good understanding of our clients’ personal preferences, maintaining a strong bond and delivering exceptional level of hospitality and care that reflects the warmth of our Omani values.”

“We offer our wealth proposition through a range of simple to complex investment solutions based on the client’s needs, risk appetite, time horizon and investment sophistication requirements. Our clients can continue to expect NBO to maintain its role as a thought-leader in this space in Oman, along with further expansion in our range of products and capabilities; and a relentless focus on continually improving the client’s experience. Our strategic priority is to remain close to our customers to preserve and grow their wealth,” he concludes.

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>> To read more about this story and other exclusive features about the global private banking landscape, download the latest issue of Global Private Banker Magazine HERE.