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.

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.