Wealth management

Hong Kong wealth management body seeks Swiss help to boost skills to meet Chinese demand

Private Wealth Management Association looking to exchange programmes and conferences as a way to raise expertise as number of wealthy Chinese continues to grow

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 February, 2018, 5:57pm
UPDATED : Monday, 05 February, 2018, 11:05pm

Hong Kong’s private wealth management industry is turning to Switzerland as it looks to improve its expertise to tap into growing demand for its services from Chinese customers.

Being small jurisdictions with interconnected financial centres, Hong Kong and Switzerland share similarities including acting as gateways to bigger markets like China and the European Union, said Amy Lo, chairman of the executive committee of the Private Wealth Management Association (PWMA), in a recent media interview.

“Demand for private-wealth management from Chinese clients has increased a lot, so banks are likely to develop the sector. We would like to train up more students and upgrade our skills to address the talent shortage here,” Lo said.

“We would like to increase international exposure to young talent in wealth management. Switzerland has a strong apprenticeship tradition,” Lo said.

According to consultancy PwC, Asia had 637 billionaires in 2016, compared to 538 in the US, with China creating a new billionaire once every five days or so.

Lo said such people had diversification needs in international markets, and Hong Kong could better position itself as a private banking hub in the Greater China and Asian region. The wealth management industry has expanded into areas including investment, family succession, charities and corporate fundraising.

The PWMA is considering expanding its annual wealth management summits to include delegates sent by the Swiss Bankers Association. The two parties are also in discussions about an exchange programme where Hong Kong wealth management industry professionals would be sent to Switzerland for training and visits to regulatory bodies. Swiss bankers would also be sent to Hong Kong to learn about the city’s wealth management industry.

The PWMA, established in 2013 with 44 corporate members currently, launched a pilot apprenticeship programme last year that links eight local universities with 13 banks, and which is aimed at providing training and career opportunities in the private wealth management industry, said Peter Stein, managing director of the PWMA.

The programme has been increased to 50 positions this year from 29 last year.

Last month, Hong Kong and Swiss authorities and industry bodies signed three agreements covering cooperation in financial markets, including the internationalisation of China’s yuan currency, as well as collaboration in wealth management and financial technology.