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Protecting Wealth by Investing in Human Capital

Published on 28 September 2018


This September marked the ten-year anniversary of the global financial crisis, which prompted debate around the lessons left in its wake.

One unquestioned and highly positive, side effect for the industry has been a wholesale rethinking of banking culture. Size and swagger have given way to value and care as the characteristics clients seek from their bank – including discerning private clients.

When Maybank, Malaysia’s largest bank, launched its private wealth offering in 2013, it considered the group’s history of valuing ‘human capital’ and personal relationships as a critical part of its proposition alongside its commitment to wealth protection and value creation.

“When somebody builds a relationship with a private bank it’s because they need that organisation to look after their money, and that is the most important consideration,” says Alvin Lee, Head of Group Wealth Management at Maybank, “but clients are realising that the ‘hard skill’ of wealth protection goes hand in hand with softer skills; if a bank cares about its clients on an individual level and if it invests in employee expertise then it’s best positioned take care of client funds too.”

Lee explains that Maybank was built around the values that other financial institutions have played ‘catch up’ to instill in the financial crisis aftermath: knowing your customer, supporting their individualised needs, investing in one’s team of bankers so they’re appreciated and well-equipped to serve and, ultimately, taking accountability for the deposits and investments under its care.

“One of our reasons for launching Maybank Private was a recognition that these values are what private clients seek and we felt uniquely positioned to deliver,” adds Lee.

Maybank Private will celebrate its own anniversary later this year - turning five years old. Already it has become a high priority and high performance area for Maybank Group.

Its relationship managers cover eight global markets: Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Brunei and London, and it has plans to both deepen its existing footprint and expand geographically as individual market conditions are right.  Its rapid expansion has been helped by industry recognition for both its products and its principles including a Gold Award for Human Capital Development in the Benchmark Private Wealth Awards (2017) and top honours for its private bank’s growth strategy, advisory services and wealth management technology.

Technology is a key focus for Maybank Private, considered to be an extension of its customer-centric approach. It has developed a customisable Wealth app offering a unifying dashboard of a client’s portfolio as well as a gateway to products and services. And on its trading floor, the investment team uses an open architecture platform to source and filter product from providers across the globe.

But data is only as useful as its analysis so Maybank Private also invests heavily in continually developing the expertise of its internal teams, creating its own Wealth Management Academy in partnership with the Wealth Management Institute of Nanyang Technological University of Singapore for this purpose. The bank credits this investment for its low staff turnover and, in turn, it credits the low turnover for being able to build up enviable knowledge and networks across ASEAN markets that clients can take advantage of.

“Many of Maybank Private’s relationship managers have been trained, developed and nurtured within the bank for a decade,” explains Lee, “creating a sense of business continuity and instilling confidence in the Maybank brand, which our clients value.”

Private clients enjoy open access to senior decision makers within the Maybank Group and the bank facilitates beneficial business relationships across borders – something they are able to offer because of their regional heritage of almost 60 years.  The group’s positive client relationships serve its own growth too with more than 90% of its private clients onboarded from a robust client referral framework.

“We are pleased to say that our group’s approach put us in a position of strength through the global financial crisis and we have remained there since,” concludes Lee.  “We are very proud of our history, but even more excited about the future, aspiring to be among the Top 20 Wealth Management players in Asia.”

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