Private banking for rich 'faces golden era'

Updated: 2012-12-24 09:48

By Wu Yiyao in Shanghai (China Daily)

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Some others said they are reluctant to deal with private banking managers because "they talk about things I don't understand".

Shao Xincheng, a jade dealer in Guangzhou, said he was once terrified by a manager who tried to explain to him how a portfolio may bring a 30 percent annual yield to his investment.

"My manager talked about so many cases in which my yield may vary from 2 percent to 30 percent. He talked for about 30 minutes but I found it was too difficult for me to understand," said Shao.

"To be honest, I am not particularly well educated and I don't want to risk my hard-earned money on something I don't understand. My manager said if unlucky things happen I might lose 10 percent of my 700 million yuan capital," he added.

After that frustrating experience, Shao decided to stick to his old business dealing in jade. He also put some money into real estate, invested some in gold and put the rest in his deposit account to save for his retirement and an overseas education for his son.

"I feel more secure when I can see and touch the thing I bought with my money," said Shao.

The same or similar products and services for VIP clients and private banking clients are found in many banks, said Chen Zhi, a Beijing-based professional investor.

With a master's degree in finance and nine years of working experience in a shareholding bank in Beijing, Chen said he prefers to build up his own portfolio.

"Compared with some foreign banks that have a century of experience in offering private banking services, domestic banks are especially weak in offering structured financing suggestions and building up a tailored portfolio for clients," said Chen.

"My observation is that currently it is rare to find innovative products. What tends to be on offer is just another mutual fund. It partly explains why many wealthy people choose offshore investments or put the money in the real estate market, or even in illegal channels such as the usury market," said Chen.

Wang, the Beijing-based wealth manager, said it takes a long time to understand the market for China's HNW individuals, which is just in its infancy compared with that in many developed countries.

"For we professionals in this sector, every day is a new challenge. The demands of clients change rapidly and there is not a textbook that we can just follow," said Wang.

Wang said she herself has seen the changes in the sector in her five-year hands-on experience.

"In the early days we were told to maintain a good relationship by sending text messages during holidays and booking the best restaurants to treat them. Now we focus more on developing services that can really help clients' wealth to grow in a healthy way," said Wang.

The number of HNW individuals is expected to grow about 20 percent annually from 2012 to 2015, reaching around 2 million, and the number of ultra-high net worth individuals (individuals with investable assets of more than 100 million yuan will grow to 130,000 individuals, according to the Minsheng and McKinsey report.

According to a recent report by the Hurun Research Institute, between 2009 and 2011 some 50 percent of HNW individuals' wealth was in cash or deposit accounts.

People in the private banking sector need to delve into the demands and dire needs of China's rich. Although the current situation may not be very satisfying, the market is full of promise and is wide open, said Pan Yingli, professor of finance with Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

For many, it is the start of a golden era.

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