Scores of women have emerged as independent, smart and financially savvy entrepreneurs in China in recent years.
Swiss-based investment bank UBS noticed this trend and is offeringa tailored approach – UBS Unique – focused exclusively on wealthy women.
“As Asia leads the way in wealth creation, many Asian women have told us that they wish to be served in ways that focus more on family and legacy than pure investment outcomes,” Marina Lui, UBS’ regional market manager, China International, and head of UBS Unique, tells the South China Morning Post.
Globally, the number of women who are billionaires has grown by a factor of 6.6 – up from 22 in 1995 to 145 in 2014, according to the UBS/PwC Billionaires Report 2015.
It showed that in Asia, over the past 10 years, the number of women billionaires has grown by a factor of 8.3 – up from only three in 2005 to 25 in 2014, compared with the number in Europe increasing by a factor of 2.7, and by 1.7 in the United States.
The Global Wealth 2016 report published by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) into the global wealth-management industry, found that only 2 per cent of wealth managers view women as a distinct group with their own specific interests.
Lui says UBS Unique – officially launched in Hong Kong in November after being introduced earlier to wealthy women in Singapore and Japan – is the bank’s five-year initiative to tailor its services to wealthy women.
The plan is focusing on women’s requirements in standard wealth management processes. These include establishing a dedicated advisory board to represent different interests and backgrounds; helping UBS’ wealth-management services to offer more sustainability, diversity and long-term investment opportunities for women; and continuing to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce at the bank.
Lui says UBS’ services are focused particularly on women billionaires in Asia, including China, and it is helping to create a dialogue for protecting their wealth.
“[Women billionaires] don’t have time to protect their wealth for the next generation,” she says.
“[So] we create a dialogue for them to develop potential ways to protect their wealth.”
“We’re making it a business priority to significantly scale up the changes to better serve female clients,” she says. “[We] are aiming to kick-start long-term change across the financial industry to better serve women.”
BCG research shows that there is currently a disconnect between women investors and the wealth managers that should be advising them.
Up to 65 per cent of women responding to a BCG survey say they have switched from one wealth manager to another because they are unhappy with the service.
Lui says research carried out by the UBS Wealth Management department shows that women have a tendency to perceive wealth more as a source of security rather than an opportunity, and, therefore, they place more value on leaving a legacy to their loved ones.
She says the UBS research also shows that the investment decisions made by women differ from those of men in that they are generally more reluctant to take risks.
Although women tend to be less confident about choosing investments, the research shows they also invest in a more disciplined way, Lui adds.
The UBS Unique initiative has been in development for the past two years, but since 2014 UBS Wealth Management has been working closely with its wealthy women clients to better understand their attitudes towards wealth management and help them protect and increase their wealth.