While ABN AMRO is a universal bank in the Netherlands, internationally it is focused on and committed to developing four main lines of business, said Hugues Delcourt in an interview – areas where the firm believes it has the scale to be relevant to its clients.
These are: private banking; merchant banking in the energy, commodities and transportation sectors; clearing; and the international diamond and jewellery industry.
Private banking offering
In selling the Swiss-based private banking operations to UBP in mid-2011, Delcourt said there is an agreement between the two institutions if there are any referrals going forward.
He added that the move was part of the firm’s plans for its private banking operations to be a leader in the Eurozone, with growth ambitions in Asia, too, he explained.
As a result, with only a medium-sized firm in Switzerland, Delcourt said it didn’t make as much sense to continue with that business as it it did to sell it and re-invest into the core markets for the firm of the Eurozone and Asia.
Agenda for 2012
This year will be an agenda geared towards growth, said Delcourt, but not towards the traditional transaction-based model which has been the focus of the Asian private banking industry.
The market is changing, he said, adding that clients deserve more added value from their private banks.
As a result, Delcourt predicted that the market will demand banks move towards a client-service team approach, so the firm wants to be a first-mover in this way.
Paying a fee for service
According to Delcourt, many people are too quick to say Asian clients won’t pay a fee for service, but he said it is all about the perception of value.
Also, he said the penetration of discretionary portfolios will increase in Asia going forward. Part of this will be about offering more tailored, and therefore more suitable, products to local clients.