Strength and Pedi­gree

Wing Lung Bank pros­pers from China Mer­chants Bank’s main­land pres­ence and its trusted le­gacy in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Tatler - - Tatler Focus | Wing Lung Private Banking -

Along and sta­ble his­tory, client re­la­tion­ships that span sev­eral gen­er­a­tions and close col­lab­o­ra­tion with its main­land par­ent com­pany give Wing Lung Bank (WLB) the edge that to­day’s high net worth in­di­vid­u­als are look­ing for when they need help to man­age their wealth.

The Hong Kong-based bank has been par­tic­u­larly suc­cess­ful in cap­tur­ing off­shore clients in China since it be­came a mem­ber of China Mer­chants Bank (CMB) in 2008 and 90 per cent of its high net worth clients are now from the main­land. At the same time, it con­tin­ues to ser­vice its wealthy clients in Hong Kong, many of whom also have busi­nesses in China.

This dual fo­cus on Hong Kong and China con­trib­uted to the 30 per cent growth in its as­sets un­der man­age­ment last year.

“Most in­ter­na­tional pri­vate banks have very lit­tle pres­ence in main­land China, while we have CMB, our par­ent com­pany with its more than 1,000 branches and a rep­u­ta­tion as one of the best pri­vate banks in China. This makes Wing Lung Bank stand out in the com­pe­ti­tion,” says Joseph Tam, Wing Lung Bank’s ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent and head of pri­vate bank­ing and wealth man­age­ment. “Other in­ter­na­tional pri­vate banks have more in­ter­na­tional pres­ence. We have an un­beat­able pres­ence in main­land China.”

One of the key growth prod­ucts on both sides of the bor­der, ac­cord­ing to Tam, is fam­ily trusts. In Hong Kong, they have grown in pop­u­lar­ity dur­ing the past 10 years, es­pe­cially af­ter the gov­ern­ment re­moved the es­tate tax in 2006, mak­ing it more favourable for lo­cal high net worth in­di­vid­u­als to hold as­sets on­shore. And in China, most of the wealth is still held by first gen­er­a­tion busi­ness­men and en­trepreneurs in their 40s and 50s.

“Wealth cre­ation is no longer their main con­cern,” Tam says. “Twenty years ago they were only in­ter­ested in in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, but when you ask them to­day they want to know how to pre­serve their as­sets and how to trans­fer their le­gacy to their next gen­er­a­tions.”

Tam es­ti­mates that some 70 per cent of new fam­ily trusts in Asia to­day are set up by main­land en­trepreneurs. And once they have taken that step, they of­ten start think­ing about es­tate plan­ning as well. Th­ese types of prod­ucts have re­cently be­come avail­able in China, but most Chi­nese busi­ness­men still pre­fer to set up trusts off­shore where the legal sys­tem is more ma­ture.

Thanks to ac­tive client re­fer­rals from CMB, WLB has ef­fec­tively be­come the off­shore wealth man­age­ment cen­tre for its Chi­nese par­ent and the re­spect that the bank has earned dur­ing its more than 80-year his­tory in Hong Kong means that WLB’S wealth man­age­ment arm is in a prime po­si­tion to tap into this trend.

Cross-bor­der as­set al­lo­ca­tion in gen­eral is also be­com­ing in­creas­ingly popular among high net worth in­di­vid­u­als in China. Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est pri­vate

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