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Private banking to take off

Of the 10 countries to join the EU last month, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic have been identified as offering the most opportunities for wealth managers. According to a report by Datamonitor, the relatively high national savings ratios in the three countries offer an encouraging sign to banks looking at entering the wealth management sector in central and eastern Europe. "In comparison to the UK, with a national saving ratio of 13.1%, individuals in all three countries save, on average, a far greater proportion of their disposable income," says the report.

In Poland, particularly, the private banking industry has shown signs of gathering pace as the number of wealthy individuals increases. Poland?s mass affluent liquid assets account for nearly 70% of all mass affluent liquid assets in central and eastern Europe. And the number of high-net-worth individuals in the country has grown steadily since 1998, although it slowed slightly after 2001, increasing by 5.4% up to 2002. At the end of 2002, Poland had 239,000 mass affluent consumers and 41,000 high-net-worth individuals.

The growth potential of the market is encouraging both foreign and domestic retail banks to broaden their services in Poland to wealth management.

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