Wealth management remains a hotly contested field in Middle Eastern banking, especially as an ever-larger number of banks strive to enter Saudi Arabia, one of the most exciting markets in the region thanks to its many high net-worth individuals and growing openness to foreign financial institutions.
The restructuring begun last year at Lebanon’s Bank Audi, to cite one good effort, makes that bank a more formidable rival by uniting its Swiss, Lebanese and Saudi wealth units under a single umbrella, Bank Audi Private Bank.
However, Credit Suisse deserves to retain the title of best bank for wealth management in the Middle East this year. More than any other institution, it has continued to grow its assets under management and its team, which is spread across eight locations in the region. Last year, the bank hired 45 new relationship managers and 11 advisory specialists, bringing the total staff count to an impressive 500. The bank’s assets under management totalled $80 billion.
Importantly, Credit Suisse, under regional chief executive and wealth management head Bruno Daher, has strengthened local presence and long-term commitment to the region by opening a new booking platform in Saudi Arabia. The bank’s focus on that market, to which it is allocating substantial capital, will likely continue to pay off because Saudi clients typically prefer senior coverage employees on the ground to deliver the full bank offering in person.
That offering improved last year; Credit Suisse extended structured financing solutions to its ultra-high net-worth and corporate clients, thereby increasing its credit volume by double digits.