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Opinion

Private bankers are the poor relations

Can wealth management truly thrive within the confines of an investment bank?

The most fascinating part of the global financial services industry today is private banking. It’s a market that is already huge, with $30 trillion in customer assets, yet still fast growing at between 6% and 7% a year. It is fragmented. The global leader, UBS, has between 3% and 4% share and the top 10 have amassed only 14% of the market between them. It is highly remunerative. The world’s 8 million or more individuals fortunate enough to have at least $1 million in liquid financial assets pay the banking industry roughly $250 billion in management and advisory fees each year to look after this wealth.

So it’s no wonder that all manner of asset managers, commercial and retail banks, investment banks and broker-dealers are figuring out the best way to wrest control of this market from the traditional private banks. These, notably the Swiss private partnerships and smaller quoted banks, have been stymied in recent years by the increasing costs of regulatory compliance, the exposure of mediocre returns from their in-house investment management, the high IT costs of establishing ready access to best-of-breed third-party investment products, and their lack of global scale in a market whose fastest growing segments include Asia and the Middle East.

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