Flight from the churning masses
The sales pitch for the EFG International IPO in October 2005 was that the bank would use the proceeds to continue to grow over the next three to five years at a comparable rate to the impressive expansion of the recent past.
Lonnie Howell, chief executive officer of EFG International, phrases this as modestly as he can. “We are trying to position ourselves as a consolidator over the next 10 years. Over the next three years we want to get ourselves out of the churning mass of banks in this business. From a size point, on a global basis, right now we’re in the middle of the middle and we’d like to get to the small end of the large.”
The plan is to grow from a bank with SFr26 billion of assets under management today to one with SFr76 billion ($58 billion) in three years. From there, the ambition is to press on and ultimately build AUM of SFr100 billion to SFr200 billion. As a point of comparison, at present UBS has wealth management AUM 30 times greater than EFG’s.
Private banking in Europe is an industry that appears steeped in history and tradition as ancient as its royal families.