DBS to Double Thai Wealth Staff to Tap $1 Trillion Potential

(Bloomberg) -- DBS Group Holdings Ltd. plans to double the wealth managers at its Thai brokerage unit as Southeast Asia’s largest bank targets a market where personal assets are expected to hit $1 trillion over the next four years.

The Singapore-based bank’s brokerage unit DBS Vickers will expand its wealth team of 35 by 2023 to take advantage of regulations that allow Thai investors to move money overseas. The target is to grow Thai assets under management to S$8 billion ($5.8 billion), twice the current level, Joseph Poon, DBS private bank’s head of Southeast Asia, said in an interview this week.

DBS to Double Thai Wealth Staff to Tap $1 Trillion Potential

“We are seeing continued wealth creation and sophistication in the client base,” Poon said. “We’ve seen the second-generation coming back and wanting to access overseas markets.”

DBS, Credit Suisse Group AG and a number of other international firms have been drawn to the Thai market by easier foreign-exchange rules that allow qualified retail investors to invest up to $1 million overseas each year. Boston Consulting Group estimates that onshore wealth in the nation will rise to $1 trillion by 2023.

Clients of DBS Vickers from Wednesday will be able to open a Singapore account through the Bangkok-based team without any need to travel, with the bank ensuring compliance and risk management, Poon said. Legacy planning will be among the services offered, he said.

Credit Suisse and Liechtenstein’s LGT have started wealth management in Thailand in recent years, while Julius Baer Group Ltd. and Lombard Odier sought local partners to enter the market.

Despite Thailand’s history of military coups and political risk, the country’s rich have a penchant for keeping their assets at home. Personal wealth stored in Thailand amounted to about $700 billion in 2018, with less than $100 billion parked overseas, data from BCG show.

“This could explain why foreign wealth managers are interested in building onshore businesses in Thailand to capture some of the wealth growth,” BCG said in a reply to questions. Local banks are also investing in strengthening their offerings for rich clients, the team said.

Thais keep more than half their personal wealth in currency and deposits, invest 28% in equities and investment funds, and a further 13% in life insurance and pensions, according to BCG data.

Southeast Asian markets accounted for more than a third of the S$234 billion in wealth assets DBS managed as of June, Poon said.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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