Andorra Bank Targets Wealthy Brazilians in Miami for Growth Plan

  • Andbank is in talks to purchase family offices in Brazil
  • Bank plans to launch an open, digital-investment platform

Andbank, the Andorran private bank with $26 billion under management, is joining the rush to grab market share among wealthy Brazilians living in Miami.

The micro-state’s largest bank has hired seven people for its Latin America private-banking business in Miami in 2017, bringing the total to 22, and could add as many as eight more by year-end, Carlos Moreno de Tejada, Andbank’s managing director and head of Americas, said in an interview in Sao Paulo.

“We’re interviewing at least one banker or independent financial adviser a week,” Tejada, a native Spaniard, said. “Competition for hiring in Miami is fierce and obtaining a visa is becoming a serious difficulty.”

Miami is a destination of choice for many Brazilians given its proximity to Latin America, cultural identity and similar climate. Brazilian financial institutions including Itau Unibanco Holding SA, Grupo BTG Pactual, XP Investimentos CCTVM SA and Banco Bradesco SA already have offices there. A recent tax-amnesty program freed up as much as $52 billion in assets to invest as many Brazilians brought their now legalized fortunes from fiscal havens to the South Florida city.

Andbank opened its Miami brokerage unit three years ago, aiming at clients with at least $1 million to invest. “The market is tough, but we’ve had exponential growth,” said Carlos Gribel, head of fixed income at Andbanc Brokerage in the city.

Swiss Transfers

The Miami unit manages about $800 million, including assets in its broker-dealer and investment-advisory business. Since October, after the amnesty program, there was a big inflow of money coming from Swiss banks to the U.S., where private banking rates are “much cheaper,” he said.

Andbank is also hoping to expand its business in Brazil. The local unit plans to hire three more people this year, boosting headcount to 17. It’s also in advanced talks for possible acquisitions of local family offices, according to Leonardo Marques Hojaij, the company’s private-banking superintendent in Brazil.

“There are several mid-size family offices that have between 500 million reais ($157 million) and 1 billion reais under management that struggle to run independently but that could be relevant to us,” Hojaij said, adding that a deal may be reached by year-end.

Andbank is only looking into deals that allow it to be a majority shareholder, Tejada added.

Andbank’s plans follow UBS Group AG’s agreement to purchase a majority stake in Consenso Investimentos Ltda., Brazil’s biggest independent multi-family office, becoming the latest Swiss bank to bet on the industry’s growth. Total assets under management in the private-banking industry in Brazil increased almost 17 percent last year, to 831.6 billions reais, according to December data from Anbima, the capital-markets association. For 2017, a large influx of initial public offerings and mergers should add to that growth.

Andbank’s other plan to gain ground in Brazil involves launching a digital investment platform that offers clients the possibility of buying products from a range of banks and hedge funds -- a similar strategy to the one that made XP Investimentos the nation’s third-biggest brokerage by equity-trading volume.

“Brazil is where we are investing now,” Tejada said. “In Latin America, this is the place to be.”

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