The external asset management industry has grown in popularity in Singapore over the past five years. While the EAM system has its origins in Switzerland and is deeply rooted and understood there, more and more bankers and clients are becoming familiar and comfortable with the EAM system in Asia, says Swissquote’s Rafael M Weber in an interview.
Rafael M Weber, h.How does the Swiss online bank Swissquote differentiate itself from its competitors in Asia?
Swissquote is the first online bank in Switzerland for private and wealthy clients as well as institutional clients. In Asia, particularly in the booking hub of Singapore, Swissquote is well on its way to becoming the leading online wealth management custodian of choice for external asset managers (EAMs), multi-family offices, private label and self-managed (Ultra-) High Net Worth Individuals (UWHNI) funds.
Swissquote Singapore is a good alternative to traditional private banks, offering a wider range of listed and securitized products at a more competitive price without compromising security and quality of service. Swissquote customers in Asia appreciate that most transactions can be carried out online without complicated manual processes.
As an online bank, you only need to have a head office in Switzerland. Why is Swissquote nevertheless represented by a branch in Asia?
Singapore has established itself as a major platform for private wealth management globally. There is a continuous influx of (U)HNWIs and Family Offices into Singapore due to its security, stability and geographical location. This is why many Asia-based clients like to book their assets in Singapore.
At the same time, many non-Asia-based clients like to diversify their assets across different jurisdictions and have chosen Singapore to hold their assets. Swissquote Group Holding is a global company listed on the Swiss Stock Exchange, with offices in Luxembourg, London, Cyprus, Malta, Dubai, Hong Kong, Bucharest and Singapore.
In recent years, international offices have grown at a rapid pace. Swissquote Singapore has established itself in the region and serves as the APAC hub for the Swissquote Group as a wealth management booking center and execution partner.
Are there any differences between the commercial behavior of Asian customers and that of Switzerland?
Wealthy families in Europe or Switzerland are often second or third generation, where wealth preservation is the main priority. In Asia, a majority of wealthy customers still come from the first generation where growth is in their DNA.
Asian clients are therefore often more inclined to active trading and a certain degree of leverage.
Is the Swissquote offering in Asia different from that in Switzerland? (If yes, how ?)
Swissquote Singapore can only deal with accredited investors and institutional investors, while Swissquote Bank in Switzerland offers a wide range of services, including eforex, crypto and robo advisory, and serves the entire clientele, from individuals to institutional clients.
Since at Swissquote Singapore we only deal with high net worth clients and institutions, we are solely a digital wealth management custodian and broker. Compared to retail, our customers are more sensitive.
Which products are the most marketed or in demand here? Has demand changed since the interest rate hike?
Swissquote Singapore clients trade the full range of products: stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options, futures, etc. – depending on the client’s investment strategy and direction. An exception is over-the-counter (OTC) structured products, which are significantly more popular in Singapore than in Europe, where most of these products are listed.
Rising interest rates have definitely led to a change in investment behavior. 18 months ago, most customers didn’t worry about having unused cash in their accounts. Today, customers park their money in Treasury bills and money market funds to take advantage of higher interest rates.
What is the demand for digital assets in Asia?
Asia has been the birthplace of many crypto companies over the past few years. If we look at the flow of digital asset trades during trading hours in Asia, we can see that Asia has a large base of digital asset investors, especially in the over-the-counter sector. detail.
At the same time, more and more (U)HNWIs and Family Offices are starting to allocate part of their portfolio to crypto assets. Both Singapore and Hong Kong are important centers in Asia for digital assets. At Swissquote Singapore, we do not currently offer access to digital assets. At the same time, we are seeing more and more clients seeking exposure to digital assets or clients who derive part of their wealth from profits generated by digital assets.
What are the next steps in expanding Swissquote’s offering (in Asia?)
As we expand our business beyond cookie-cutter wealth management accounts, we tailor specific offerings to our clients. One example is our partnership with life insurance companies where Swissquote Singapore is the custodian for VUL and PPLI insurance policies.
The license to offer digital assets to our customers is currently pending with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). If we obtain the license, we seek to offer access to certain digital assets to our customers.
In Singapore and Hong Kong, more and more former bankers (client advisors) are striking out on their own by creating independent wealth management companies. What can you offer to this clientele as an online bank?
The external asset management (EAM) industry has grown in popularity in Singapore over the past five years. While the EAM setup has its origins in Switzerland and is deeply rooted and understood there, more and more bankers and clients are becoming familiar and comfortable with the EAM setup in Asia.
Since Swissquote Singapore only offers custody and brokerage services, we are ideally suited to be the custodian for EAMs and Multi-Family Offices, since (investment) advisory is at the core of their business. There is no conflict of interest and we are the ideal partner for independent wealth managers.
We respectively offer their clients access to over 3 million capital market products, a secure custody platform and an efficient ordering system including a middle/back office digital dashboard – all at a very competitive price without compromising safety and quality of service. through the use of technology.
Although we have only been active in Singapore for four years, we already work with over 70 EAMs, MFOs and funds.
How innovative are your investment products?
Swissquote Singapore does not promote or advise any investment products. Our products constitute our platform that provides seamless access to almost any capital product our clients wish to trade. The Swissquote group continually innovates its wealth management platform and invests significant resources each year to further develop it.
Is there also a demand for ESG/sustainable online investments? Or is the ESG/sustainability topic just hype?
As Swissquote Singapore does not advise clients on any investments, we do not advise clients on whether or not they should purchase ESG-compliant investments. At the same time, we give our clients the tools to assess the sustainability of their positions as well as their portfolios.
Our clients can see an overall score as well as a breakdown into different ESG components. The Swissquote Group itself also takes sustainability very seriously and is strongly committed to it. Since 2020, the Swissquote group has published a sustainable development report as part of the annual report.
Rafael Weber is responsible for all customers at the Singapore reservation center for Swiss listing. Previously, he worked at a US crypto company after working for many years for UBS Wealth Management in Singapore and Hong Kong. Rafael has over a decade of experience advising family offices, external asset managers and (U)HWNIs in Asia and Europe. Rafael holds a master’s degree in banking and finance from the University of St. Gallen and also studied in mainland China and Korea.