HSBC, the London-based global banking giant with historic roots in Asia, is to open an office in Australia as part of a plan to” expand its private banking presence in Asia-Pacific”.
In a statement this morning, it said it plans to provide private banking services to Australia-resident clients, including high-net-worth individuals and family offices there, with investable assets of more than A$10m (US$7.5m).
Australia has the third-largest population of HNWIs in Asia-Pacific, consisting of around 29,500 Australian households that have a net worth of more than A$10m, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics data from 2015.
HSBC Australia chief executive Tony Cripps said Australia was “a priority growth market for HSBC”, and noted that having a private banking office there would “complement and enhance our existing retail, commercial and investment banking businesses”.
“We anticipate significant growth from being able to offer a comprehensive private banking experience to both new and existing customers,” he added.
“HSBC has achieved significant growth in Australia over the past five years; and private banking is a natural step to continue building our business and meeting our customers’ needs.”
As part of the bank’s efforts to get the new Australian operation up to speed quickly, it said it will permit its new Australia-resident clients to “leverage the global presence and capabilities available” through HSBC Private Bank’s offices in Hong Kong or Singapore.
It said its private banking team in Australia will also collaborate with HSBC’s Retail Banking and Wealth Management, Global Banking and Markets, and Commercial Banking businesses “to support the owners and principals of Australian businesses with their private wealth needs and facilitate introductions to relationship managers in Hong Kong or Singapore”.
As noted in the November issue of International Investment, the challenges of catering for Asia’s wealthiest denizens has caused many western banks to sell their operations in the region to local banks. Bank of Singapore, for example, bought Barclays’ Singapore and Hong Kong operations, while City’s Japanese business was sold to Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp.
Last month, Australia & New Zealand Banking Group said it was selling its retail and wealth-management businesses in five countries in Asia to Singapore’s DBS Bank.
However, Credit Suisse has been bucking the trend to leave Asia, or not expand there, under chief executive Tidjane Thiam.