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Private banking: Onshore drives market for Latin America’s cheerful wealthy

The landscape of Latin American private banking has changed over the financial crisis but the region’s wealthy population remains optimistic. Opportunities abound for those that remain in the business. Helen Avery reports.

LATIN AMERICA’S WEALTHY have suffered losses in their portfolios, but by comparison with high-net-worth individuals elsewhere they have escaped the financial crisis lightly. In 2008, the number of millionaires in the region decreased by only 0.7%. North America lost almost 20% of its millionaires, and Asia and Europe about 14% each, according to Capgemini Merrill Lynch’s 2009 World Wealth Report. Furthermore, changes to the level of wealth were much less noticeable in Latin America. The millionaires of north America, Europe and Asia Pacific lost about 22% of their wealth; Latin America’s high-net-worth individuals lost 6%.

As a result, Latin America has been a relatively good environment for private banks. Local and foreign private banks had been increasing their businesses in Latin America over the past six years as wealth creation accelerated. Indeed, second only to Asia Pacific, Latin America has had the largest growth forecast for wealth assets. According to a World Wealth Report forecast, from 2006 to 2013 the region’s wealth will grow 49% to $7.6 trillion.

But while relative domestic stability, and even optimism, have reigned among Latin America’s wealthy, the private banks that serve them have not been immune to the less cheery economic environment elsewhere.

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