Credit Suisse Plans Middle East Growth as Millionaires Rise

  • Bank says number of millionaires in region rising to 500,000
  • International wealth management CEO sees short-term challenges

Credit Suisse Follows the Money to Expand in the Mideast

Credit Suisse Group AG expects the Middle East to account for a significant part of its growth in private banking as the number of super wealthy individuals in the region increases.

The Zurich-based bank expects to expand in Dubai and Saudi Arabia as millionaires in the region rise to 500,000 from about 330,000, Iqbal Khan, head of its international wealth management business, said Wednesday in an interview with Bloomberg television in Dubai, citing the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait as the most promising markets.

"The Middle East for us is a very relevant region, it’s a growth region," said Khan, responsible for Credit Suisse’s wealth management business in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. "In the short term we do see challenges, but in the long term we have a positive view."

Under a strategy designed by Chief Executive Officer Tidjane Thiam after he took the job in July 2015, the bank wants to focus on services for entrepreneurs and personal fortunes as it vies with competitors such as UBS Group AG and JPMorgan Chase & Co. to advise the ultra-wealthy. The Swiss bank is betting that it can attract affluent customers by offering individual clients loans as it pivots from investment banking to wealth management.

Deploying Capital

“We’re growing our coverage base across international wealth management and a material part of that is going to be in the Middle East,” said Khan. The bank is deploying capital in the region through lending initiatives and financing to clients, he said.

Khan was promoted to run the business in October and has been tasked by Thiam with almost doubling lending volume to 56 billion Swiss francs ($57.6 billion) by 2018. In the Middle East, growth in sales and asset accumulation accelerated by more than 10 percent in the first half,  he said, declining to give specific numbers.

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