Asian wealth set to grow

By Gabriel Chen

PRIVATE banking chiefs remain bullish about Asia, including China and the Middle East, despite rising competition from rival banks which are also investing in the region to snag Asian wealth in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

HSBC group private banking chief executive Chris Meares reiterated on Monday that Asia remains a growth spot for the bank and he expects the proportion of its Asian assets to rise from 30 per cent to 50 per cent over the next five years.

Mr Meares's optimism about the region comes after HSBC said recently it would expand in Asia and its global CEO Michael Geoghegan would move from London to Hong Kong.

According to Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management and Capgemini, overall financial wealth of high net worth individuals is expected to grow to US$48.5 trillion by 2013. North America and the Asia-Pacific regions are predicted to lead in the growth, with Asia-Pacific surpassing North America by 2013, the June findings predicted.

'Asian wealth is going to grow astronomically,' said the UK-based Meares at the 19th Private Banker International Wealth Management Summit on Monday.

'Am I going to move here? I've been asked a few times in the last week. I've spent many years in Asia myself. At the moment, about two-thirds of our business is still in Europe, so it probably makes sense for me to remain in Europe for a while. But I never say never.'


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