Asian assets at Geneva’s oldest bank, which employs 40 private bankers and manages $8 billion in the region, have expanded by 15 percent to 20 percent since the end of last year, Vincent Magnenat, the firm’s head of private banking for Asia, said in an interview in Singapore last week.
“We want to grow it at that pace for as long as the market would grow,” Magnenat said. “The demand for discretionary portfolio management is increasing in Asia,” he said, referring to client funds for which his firm can make direct investment decisions.
Rich Chinese helped make Asia the fastest-growing region for affluent families last year, according to a study released today by Boston Consulting Group. Private wealth in the Asia-Pacific region excluding Japan jumped 31 percent to $37 trillion in 2013 from a year earlier, supporting a 15 percent advance in global wealth to $152 trillion, the report showed.
In Singapore and Hong Kong, 60 percent of the assets managed by Lombard Odier are discretionary mandates, according to Magnenat. The figure in Japan is 100 percent, he said.
Lombard Odier was established in 1796. The bank manages about $200 billion globally, which includes assets of both private and institutional clients, Magnenat said.
Switzerland’s banks are under pressure amid a global crackdown on tax evasion that has forced the Swiss government to weaken laws protecting client secrecy. Those laws helped transform the country into the largest cross-border wealth-management center with more than $2 trillion of assets.
Lombard Odier is one of 106 Swiss banks that are seeking non-prosecution deals with the U.S. Justice Department for helping Americans evade tax. To reduce penalties, the banks can persuade clients to enter a voluntary disclosure program run by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Credit Suisse Group AG’s main bank subsidiary agreed to pay a $2.6 billion fine and pleaded guilty last month to helping Americans cheat on taxes.
Magnenat declined to comment on any funds Lombard Odier may be setting aside to meet these penalties.
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