HSBC is looking beyond the current health crisis and towards the long-term, as it is confident that it can triple the number of billionaire clients in the Greater China area in the next three years.
Europe's biggest bank, along with rivals including UBS and Credit Suisse are targeting the fastest-growing wealth management market in the world. HSBC is expanding its private-banking presence to tap into that wealth.
"This ultra high-net worth piece is very, very critical for us," Tan Siew Meng, Asia Pacific head of global private banking, said in an interview with Bloomberg in Hong Kong. "It is one of the key focuses that we're putting in place to ensure that we're going to deliver on the broader strategy."
This ultra high-net worth piece is very, very critical for us"
With an estimated 754 billionaires and $2.5trn in total wealth, according to a UBS and PwC report published in November, ultra-high net worth wealth in China remains amongst the crown jewels for global banks in the region.
HSBC's international network of retail and commercial banking business has been a key contributor of new client and assets for the regional private banking business and it expects this to be no different for the billionaire segment. According to Tan, 60 percent of private banking client referrals in Asia were sourced internally.
While the coronavirus has roiled markets and threatens to tip the global economy into recession, HSBC expects the demand for its services to wealthy clients will continue.
"Even if 2020 is going to be impacted, the trajectory will come back," Tan said. "It will pick up again when business activity or when travel starts to resume. We are not concerned."
Currently, around 75% of the $151bn HSBC has in assets under management are from clients with $30m or more in investable assets.