Credit Suisse brings digital private banking to Hong Kong

High net worth individuals increasingly expect to use new technology when it comes to managing their portfolios, survey finds

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 June, 2016, 9:58am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 June, 2016, 9:58am

Credit Suisse expanded its digital private banking service to Hong Kong on Tuesday with the launch of a new private banking Asia Pacific app.

The move is the latest sign that technology is becoming increasingly important for private banking clients, who, analysts say, may consider moving banks if they cannot access appropriate digital solutions.

“There are two main reasons why players in the private banking sector are looking to make greater use of technology,” said James Lloyd, fintech lead at EY. “Firstly they are looking to automate a greater number of back office procedures to allow relationship managers to spend more quality time with their clients, and secondly, private banks now have to meet new expectations from their customers who ask for a much greater degree of online services than they did in the past.”

However, at the moment most private banking activities still take place in traditional ways. Research from EY found that personal interaction was the most common channel for wealth customers in Asia Pacific to get financial advice, with 39 per cent of respondents to a survey saying they received advice face to face compared to just 13 per cent who did so on mobile devices.

Lloyd said this was changing, but added that not all private banking firms were ready for the change. “According to our research, 57 per cent of APAC firms expect personal interactions to remain their primary channel in the next two to three years, compared with just 32 per cent of clients whose preferences are shifting to digital,” he said.

Speaking at the app’s launch, Francois Monnet, Credit Suisse’s head of private banking for Greater China, referred to a survey from Capgemini Wealth Management that found 83 per cent of high net worth individuals said they were likely to leave a wealth management firm that could not offer an integrated digital and direct channel for all clients.

Asia Pacific has some of the biggest and most rapidly expanding wealth pools in the world
Francois Monnet, Credit Suisse

“When we look back a few years, private banks in general were of the view that high net worth customers only needed personal interaction, so they did not place a lot of emphasis on digital technology,” said Antoinette Hoon, PwC Hong Kong partner of private banking advisory services. “Nowadays, private banks are proactively investing in technology to differentiate themselves in customer experience,” she said.

Credit Suisse’s private banking app enables clients to check their portfolio, read research reports and market information, make trades and communicate with their relationship manager online, among other services.

“Asia Pacific has some of the biggest and most rapidly expanding wealth pools in the world,” said Monnet. “A digitalised multichannel delivery model will bring the relationship manager and the bank significant gains in efficiency and productivity.”

Retail banks too are trying to make greater use of technology, and there may be some overlap with those services provided to high net worth individuals.

“Innovations in areas such as big data and robotics enable private bankers to offer faster, more bespoke services,” said Beat Monnerat, Accenture’s financial services lead in Asia-Pacific. “It can be used for high net worth individuals as well as for banks entering the mass affluent market.”