CREDIT Lyonnais private bank believes clients in Asia are more financially sophisticated than their European counterparts and pose a bigger challenge to bankers as a result. Managing director, Asia, Daniel Truchi said they were much more aware and more pro-active in terms of product and financial instruments than clients in other parts of the world. 'As a private banker, you need to be more aware of what's going on in markets,' he said. 'A well-rounded private banking unit should be capable of providing multiple products and services, in multiple places and markets and in multiple currencies and financial instruments.' Mr Truchi said the industry had become more technology orientated and more sophisticated since the 1980s. 'The face of private banking has changed completely. Clients are more demanding, more sophisticated and private bankers have to follow the trend. I don't believe this trend exists at such a fast pace in Europe,' he said. Unlike in Europe, clients in Asia usually split their investments between two or more private bankers. 'The exchange of information is quite fast, especially in a place like Hong Kong. Often the customer comes to you with some requirements and you have to be able to structure a product quickly,' he said. Since the interest rate shock, which began in February, clients of all private banks had become more conservative with their derivatives investments. Mr Truchi said there was greater demand for structured products with a capital guarantee. 'These offer downside protection, while still capturing as much as possible of the beneficial high side,' he said. An example would be a currency enhancement package offering a 10 per cent to 12 per cent return if the Australian and US dollars stayed within a specific range over a period. If the currencies moved out of the range, investors were protected by a capital guarantee. 'This is where the competitive edge will be in coming years, where you are able to package a structured deal upon the specific requirements of your customer,' Mr Truchi said. Hong Kong had some of the wealthiest private clients in the world and Mr Truchi said this kind of investor offered special challenges to private bankers. 'Investors are very knowledgable about markets today. The biggest private bank clients have their own investment teams and you often deal through them. They trade many markets and places at the same time, so they are very up to date,' he said. 'Credit Lyonnais manages its regional private banking operation out of Hong Kong, but books business out of both Hong Kong and Singapore. 'The private banking arm is supported by the group's many regional offices, spanning everything from asset management to securities and capital markets. There is a lot of added value which only the biggest can offer.' Credit Lyonnais, founded in 1863, is the most asset-rich bank in the world outside of Japan. Mr Truchi said the Asian private banking market could accommodate the recent influx of new players. 'Some will find a specific niche but, if you want to be a major player, you need to think really globally and to have the support in asset management, in structured products and your network,' Mr Truchi said.