A 2020 vision for independent wealth management in Asia

We are delighted to host our inaugural event for the independent wealth management community in Hong Kong.

Given the uncertainly and volatility in the markets, a lot of private banks face a tough time in providing any real value or advice to clients. Further, with many private banks now fearful of doing the wrong thing given the regulatory spotlight, this might have a negative impact on service levels.

As a result, the next couple of years probably represent the best-ever opportunity for independent wealth managers to shine and attract net new money.

The value of a differentiated approach in the form of genuinely independent advice is also becoming clearer – both to clients as well as private bankers who might feel restricted in what they can do for their clients within the current environment.

Now, therefore, is the time for the small – but gradually increasing – number of independent asset management (IAM) firms and multi-family offices (MFOs) in Asia to play a much greater role in what is becoming a polarising industry within wealth management.

This requires independents to raise their game and address the ongoing challenges they face in scaling their businesses.

These include: more clearly defining business models; finding more clients; creating more clarity over fee models; attracting more competent and experienced private bankers, along with other professionals; and offering appealing – typically private – investment prospects to clients.

The burdens of regulation and compliance also continue to press heavily on independent firms, given their smaller size. Plus, the need for more bespoke and user-friendly digital tools and systems is a costly exercise.

At the same time, independent firms need to re-assess their expectations of custodians and what they get from them – not just use the private banks as an extension to a middle and back office. Further, independent firms should consider other viable custody options.

We have therefore designed this forum to bring together key market participants to discuss and debate the current positioning, role, opportunities, challenges and outlook for independent wealth management in Asia.