Barclays steps up private banking game in Asia

A recent senior hire by Barclays for its private bank in Singapore shows how the UK-listed bank is tackling UHNW and family office clients in the Asian city-state and the wider region, a senior executive explained. .

Barclays targets high net worth individuals and family offices in Asia, and a recent senior hire underscores his commitment to knitting different parts of his business, a senior executive said.

The move also suggests that although the UK-listed lender started wealth and investment business in Asia five years ago, its ties to Asia have never been severed. Barclays has been operating in the Asia-Pacific region for over 50 years and, when it comes to private banking, it is strengthening its presence.

A few days ago, Barclays announced that former UBS executive Evonne Tan had been appointed to head its private banking business in Singapore. Tan reports to James Penny, Asia ex-India manager, at the private bank. As the UK-listed lender explained, Tan will focus on the collaboration between private banking and Barclays’ merchant and investment banking in Singapore.

As Barclays said upon Tan’s appointment, Singapore is a “strategically important location for Barclays in Asia Pacific, which currently has the largest number of UHNWIs in the world.”

The situation Barclays finds itself in is very different from when in 2016 it sold its wealth management and investment arm to OCBC, the parent company of Singapore-listed Bank of Singapore. Barclays Private Bank however retained its activities in India and therefore retained a presence in Asia. And the sheer growth of Asian wealth means the market is too big and growing too fast to ignore, Penny told this post.

“The world [in 2016] was a different place when the [spinoff
decision] was done. We wanted to consider tapping into Asian markets with a different proposition than we had in 2016, ”said Penny.

“Asia is expected to experience the fastest growth of any region over the next decade. Singapore continues to be an important jurisdiction in the institutional space, ”he continued.
Tan will work alongside the existing Asia coverage team in London, looking after UHNW clients. It will focus on the collaboration between the private bank, the merchant bank and the investment bank of Barclays, he said.

For now, Barclays is focused on Singapore but “will have an eye on the wider region,” he continued.

Asked about past changes at Barclays, Penny said private banking is “increasingly targeting” the UHNW and family office segment. “We are very aware of the financial measures in this segment.”

As a place, Singapore is a must see, he said, adding: “It is guaranteed in the conversations.”

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