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Australia: Tapping a growing rich list

The most common subject when foreign banks talk about expansion in Australia is wealth management. Paul Masi, chief executive at Merrill Lynch, which focuses successfully on Australia’s ultra-rich, talks of "a unique franchise" and wants to get bigger. Steve Harker, chief executive at Morgan Stanley, has also marked it down.

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UBS has about 130 advisers; head of wealth management Liz Cacciottollo wants to take that to 180. She says: "In terms of market size, Australia is probably the 10th-largest domestic opportunity in the world in terms of wealth in the hands of private individuals we might advise". By her reckoning there are A$700 billion to A$800 billion ($582 billion to $665 billion) of investable assets in those hands. "It’s growing very fast," she says. "Asset growth has been material. Real estate, the equity market: there have been a lot of wealth creation issues."

Credit Suisse has only just brought its global private banking offering to Australia. "The growth of funds here is just amazing," says David Trude, the bank’s manager for Australia. "Australia has grown up in the last few years to the point where it warrants a full array of private banking products."

Deutsche runs a small, 14-strong private wealth-management team in the open architecture style, sourcing whatever products they think best regardless of the manufacturer.

"We think the model some people use where it’s a distribution arm for their own product is a flawed model and doesn’t help the market expand in the way true private banking should operate," says Chum Darvall, Deutsche’s chief executive for Australia and New Zealand.

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