The study’s core objective is to understand the concerns of leading ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWI) across Asia in the Covid era and steering the industry to better address their needs.
With insightful feedback from 150 UHNWI respondents in Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Japan, and Taiwan, the report unveiled a wide range of findings that get to the heart of this, including technology, investment, family and sustainability.
“The disruptions and impact of the pandemic are manifold and have forced leading families and entrepreneurs in the region to rethink everything. One thing is clear – UHNWIs have reflected a strong desire for a trusted local adviser that helps them navigate and access markets they can no longer travel to easily and form relationships with banks that are aligned with their principles and convictions.
“Our alliance with KBank Private Banking encapsulates this – through KBank Private Banking, Thai UHNWIs can access opportunities via Lombard Odier’s network of alliances in the region,” said Vincent Magnenat, chief executive officer for Lombard Odier’s Asia operations.
Balancing technology and humans
Covid-19 has become a game-changer, putting the entire world on the same page. For UHNWIs, there is a greater shift towards digitalisation. The report showed that Thailand is among the top three countries in Asia where most UHNWIs believe “more digital, less physical” interactions will become the norm.
However, not everything can go digital, especially private banking and building trust. Surprisingly, 59 per cent of Asian UHNWIs and most Thai UHNWIs prefer physical meetings at or outside the bank once the Covid-19 crisis comes to an end.
Hunt for something extra
The Covid-19 fallout has led Asian UHNWIs to perceive markets as increasingly dynamic and segmented. Results, however, show that investors who have lived through the financial crisis have the ability to stay focused. Of the Thai participants, up to 70 per cent, have not changed the characteristics of their portfolio.
In terms of assets, some Asian UHNWIs have decided to adopt a conservative bias, turning to traditional safe havens such as gold, the Swiss Franc, the Japanese Yen, and sovereign bonds. Other Asian UHNWIs see this as a time of opportunity, placing more interest in private equity and private debt as a low-interest rate is expected to be part of the new norm.
With a potential reversal in globalisation, many participants expressed a strong desire for a trusted local adviser who will help them navigate, access local markets, and capitalise in this time of uncertainty.
Most Thai UHNWIs, or 87 per cent, said the availability of extra services will influence their choice of bank, listing treasury management capabilities, access to real asset opportunities and ability to be connected with entrepreneurs as the three most important services.
Urgency for family governance
For many Asian UHNWI families, the pandemic has brought to the forefront some key longer-term questions for family businesses, family values and family wealth governance.
As a result, they are cautiously exploring and putting governance structures in place. According to the report, 35 per cent of Thai UHNWI families have already structured their family governance, and the crisis has prompted 45 per cent without a structure in place to start thinking of adopting one.
Real-estate advisory service has also become one of the fastest-growing family wealth planning service offerings for Thai UHNWI families. In 2020, KBank Private Banking studied the real-estate portfolios of 121 clients, covering 940 plots of land.