Credit Suisse targets Thailand’s 91,000 millionaires with launch

Credit Suisse is preparing to target Thailand’s growing ranks of millionaires with the launch of a new private banking operation, based in Bangkok, the company has confirmed.

The Swiss bank said it is focusing on high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals in the market with the appointment of a new client-relationship team of six, which it expects to increase to 12 by the end of the year.

The new team will be supported by the firm’s regional private banking hub in Singapore, which houses more than 200 investment specialists, Credit Suisse said, and will exist under the banner of its Credit Suisse Securities operation.

Credit Swiss formally launched the new operation at a gala dinner in Bangkok on Wednesday night, attended by more than 150 guests.

Credit Suisse’s chief executive for Asia Pacific, Helman Sitohang, said that expanding into Thailand is an “important milestone” in Credit Suisse’s growth strategy in the region.

He said Thailand is the sixth market in the Asia-Pacific region in which the firm now has an onshore wealth presence.

91,000 Thai millionaires

Although not generally thought of as a hotbed of HNWIs, Thailand is in fact home to a surprising number of wealthy individuals., recent research suggests. The Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report 2015, for example, says its home to an estimated 340 ultra-high-net-worth individuals, with more than US$50m in net wealth each. The Capgemini and RBC Wealth Management Asia Pacific Wealth Report 2015 indicates that almost 91,000 Thais had more than US$1m in investable assets in 2014, a 13% increase from the previous year.

Christian Senn, Credit Suisse’s private banking market group head for Thailand, noted that Thai clients are increasingly looking to diversify their domestic wealth through global investments, as the the regulatory policy towards overseas capital flows in the country “continues to evolve”.

Political instability

Despite being endowed with natural resources and strong economic growth, Thailand has had a history of political instability, with numerous political coups since 1930. Martial law was lifted in April 2015, 10 months after the most recent coups, but it remains under the control of a military junta.

Credit Suisse has been operating in Thailand for 16 years, catering to the needs of private, corporate and institutional clients in the market, but until now it has done this mainly out of its Singapore offices. It maintains offices in central Bangkok, on Rama IV Road.

As a result of its current push – led by CEO Tidjane Thiam, who joined Credit Suisse last year from Prudential – the bank is looking to double pretax income and client assets under management by 2018 in the Asia-Pacific region, where it says it now has more than 630 relationship managers.

Credit Suisse data shows the firm attracted net new assets of CHF17.8bn (US$17.98bn)  in the Asia-Pacific region last year, and the bank is targeting CHF25bn (US$17.98bn) annually by 2018.

In addition to Singapore and, now, Thailand, Credit Suisse’s Asia-focused wealth unit also has operations in Hong Kong, Japan, Australia and India.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gary Robinson
Deputy Editor, International Investment and Head of Video at Open Door Media Publishing. A fully qualified journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years' financial services experience, both as journalist and originally as an IFA.

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