Greater portion of wealth in Asia shifting to Singapore

By Timothy Ouyang, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 05 June 2008 2023 hrs

SINGAPORE: Across Asia, household wealth is estimated to be worth as much as US$16 trillion and there are signs that a greater portion of it is shifting to Singapore.

This is according to VP Bank, which is the latest bank to receive a merchant banking licence here.

The Liechtenstein-based private bank has set up shop in Singapore to target ultra-high net worth clients, both here and around the region.

Currently, Asian wealth is expanding at a rate of 7 percent annually, compared to 4 percent in Europe - a sign that Asia may overtake Europe and the United States as the wealthiest region in the world.

In Southeast Asia, wealth management revenue is expected to grow at an even faster rate of 15 percent over the next two years.

VP Bank said Singapore has already overtaken Hong Kong as the wealth management hub of Asia.

Reto Isenring, managing director of VP Bank Singapore, said: "I believe personally that Hong Kong still has a very vital role in investment banking. But on the private banking side, I see our prospects, our clients as well as our competitors moving closer to Singapore."

VP Bank said private banking in the region is still niche and it wants to get a slice of the Asian wealth pie. It plans to use Singapore as a gateway to ultra-high net worth clients in Southeast Asia who have more than US$30 million in investible assets.

The bank estimates that Singapore alone has over US$250 billion in wealth, with the number of millionaires here increasing 21 percent to 60,000 last year.

"We clearly see a main focus on China. India is a very interesting market. Indonesia remains an interesting market. The Middle East is clearly a market which is coming and which is interested in investing in Asia, and having some of their assets booked in Asia," said Isenring.

Currently, VP Bank manages some US$1 billion worth of customer assets in Asia and it is targeting to book US$5 billion here in Singapore over the next five years.

- CNA/so