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BANKING

Asian private banks look to stay ahead of the herd

Asian private banks are continuing to visit the wilder shores of alternative investments. Chris Wright reports.

Capital protection: Asian clients’ eternal themeOne region, many markets: where Asia's wealthy put their money

IF YOU HAVE been taking a daring, ahead-of-the-curve punt by putting money into Vietnam, perhaps through one of the many new country-specific funds that have sprung up in the past few months, here’s an irksome thought. Private banks in Asia had their clients in there a year ago and in some cases are now starting to pull them back out again. "Vietnam was a very big theme for clients in this region last year," says Tuck Meng Yee, head of product development for Asia-Pacific private banking at ABN Amro. That’s the skill of the adviser to the wealthy: being ahead of the herd.

Half the fun of private wealth management is the quirky product around the edges of the mainstream investments. You can take it as read that all private banks treat their clients’ money with suitable conservatism and care, putting the bulk into core strategies that will protect capital as well as help it grow. But increasingly, advisers recommend surrounding this core with a few satellites: riskier investments, perhaps, or ones predicated on long-term thematics, or just a bit out of the ordinary.