Nov. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, which manages $15 billion in private wealth in Asia, plans to double its private banking assets there within five years, the lender’s co-head of global wealth management investing said.
“We wish to increase our presence in all international markets,” Nick Cringle, the division’s co-head said in an interview in Mumbai yesterday. “From a profitability perspective, 60 percent of our profits come from the U.K. and 40 percent from international businesses. Part of our five-year strategic plan is to reverse that.”
The U.K.’s biggest government-controlled bank is competing with rivals including Morgan Stanley, UBS AG and Citigroup Inc. to hire financial advisers to tap the region’s increasing wealth amid sluggish economic growth in the U.S. and a debt crisis in Europe. Asia-Pacific millionaires outnumbered those in Europe for the first time last year, according to Capgemini SA and Bank of America Corp. data.
Asia’s 3.3 million high-net-worth individuals had $10.8 trillion in assets, compared with the $10.2 trillion accumulated by their 3.1 million counterparts in Europe, according to the Capgemini and Bank of America report published in June.
“The wealth business in Asia is slightly profitable,” Hong Kong-based Cringle said. “Will it be as profitable as we would have liked it to be in 2011? Not quite. But I think that every wealth manager has had the same experience. Clearly clients have been much less engaged in the context of investments.”
RBS employs about 550 people in its offices in Singapore, Hong Kong and India, Cringle said. RBS has grown its workforce in 2011 by adding more relationship managers. It expects to expand further next year, he said.
Wealth in Asia, excluding Japan, is expected to rise at about double the global rate of about 6 percent through the next five years, the Boston Consulting Group said in a May 31 report.
RBS’s largest private banking markets by assets are the U.K., Europe, Middle East, North Asia and Southeast Asia, Shiv Gupta, India’s country head for private banking said in an April interview. India now employs 85 people in its private banking division up from 55 at the start of the year, Prateek Pant, the bank’s head of wealth solutions in Mumbai said yesterday.
--Editors: James Gunsalus, Linus Chua
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