Private banking: Ways to win with India’s wealthy
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Private banking: Ways to win with India’s wealthy

India has been a tough market for global wealth managers, ground down by rising costs and regulation. But private wealth is growing fast, offering long-term profit for those with patience and persistence.

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Running a successful private banking outfit in India can be a frustrating and expensive experience. Even the strongest bank can find itself stymied by rising costs, complex regulations and a fractured and dispersed customer base. 

In recent years, many global private banks have scaled back their business or quit the country altogether. EFG International, Morgan Stanley and UBS closed their local operations in 2014. Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and HSBC followed suit in 2015, along with RBS. 

It might seem a curious time to walk away. India is one of just a handful of emerging markets where growth is accelerating, rather than falling. 

In its latest World Economic Outlook, published in January, the IMF projects gross domestic product to expand by 7.3% this year and by 7.5% in 2017, justifying its depiction by IMF managing director Christine Lagarde as a rare “bright spot” in the global economy. 

Jaideep Hansraj,
Kotak Mahindra Bank

Personal prosperity is also rising with growth. According to Karvy Private Wealth, the number of high-net-worth individuals in India – defined as anyone with more than $1 million in investable financial assets excluding real estate – jumped 27% in 2015 to 198,000.