We are delighted to host our 3rd annual event for the independent wealth management community in Hong Kong.

Its exclusively designed for CEOs, senior management, product gatekeepers and RM’s at Independent Asset Management Firms (IAM), External Asset Managers (EAM) and Multi-Family Offices (MFO). And private bankers who might like to join an independent firm.

The independent wealth sector in Asia has enjoyed a decade, or more, of strong growth in Hong Kong. A fast-rising tide of Asian economic might and private wealth combined with strong global financial market performance has made for a powerful incentive for new entrants to compete and established boutique firms to expand further. But as the outlook for 2020 is at best mixed, how should independent firms position their businesses?

What does the IAM landscape in Hong Kong look like today and what’s the outlook for the industry given recent challenges? Are clients and wealth managers still committed to business in Hong Kong? What are clients saying and doing? How will Private Banks and Independent Firms collaborate or compete in the future? What are the regulatory and compliance challenges for the Independent wealth management?

Panel discussions on these topics:

9.00am - Independent wealth management in Hong Kong – still relevant?

10.15am - Delivering investment products and advice to clients – How can you differentiate yourself?

12.45pm - The Big Picture: Trends in Wealth Structuring and Legacy Planning in Asia

3.30pm - Navigating choppy and uncertain markets

4.15pm - Interesting and relevant Investment Solutions for YOUR clients

Topics we will cover in the forum;

The battle for independence

While the independent wealth management industry, of course, works with the private banking community in relation to custodian and other services, the independents are fighting tough to win over Asia’s high-net-worth (HNW) clients and their families. Advice-led, client-centric, knowledge-based models that focus on transparency are seen as the best route to combatting the big brand presence of the private banks in the region.

As markets turn, good advice is in greater focus

While private banks might have a wide range of services to offer HNW individuals (HNWIs) and their families, there is far too much focus on product rather than advice. Being aligned with the families and the family offices, insurers, presents a huge opportunity, especially as mainstream financial market conditions worsen and become more confused, for example with an inverted dollar yield curve, with mixed signals about rate cuts and so many geopolitical concerns that perhaps are being  brushed aside.

Fast growth for the IAM sector in Hong Kong

We have seen a rapid expansion of the boutique wealth managers, the independent asset managers (IAMs) and the external asset managers (EAMsIn the past decade the numbers have ballooned from a mere handful in Hong Kong to almost 80 firms.

Don’t copy the private banks

To be independent and successful, experts cautioned against emulating the private bank model. Avoid pushing products, avoid the overt encouragement of leverage, change the mindset to one that puts the client’s needs first, rather than the remuneration package and quarterly targets.

The holistic view

A much-used word in wealth management today is ‘holistic’, but for the independent firm, it is extremely apt. Understanding the client must be the first step and the dedicated focus on their needs and objectives must direct all advice and activity if the independent wealth manager is to indeed provide the holistic advice required.

Finding the right people – a major challenge

The hunting ground for the independent sector to find the right client-facing colleagues to keep their business momentum advancing remains the private banks. But there are few relationship managers (RMs) whose clients and their assets are genuinely portable. And trying to coax the very successful private bankers from the brand name corporate folds is of course difficult. Communicating the many advantages of working as an independent is vital to this quest.

Clients like brand names, especially in Asia

While the independent wealth management model has far greater traction in more mature markets, for example, the UK or Switzerland, in Asia the HNWI clientele, particularly for ‘new’ money is resistant to working outside the brand name banks. The challenge for the independent sector is to find clients who will be confident enough to step into the world of boutique advisory firms. Once there, most gradually understand the value of the model and demonstrate high levels of trust and loyalty.

Listen, listen and listen some more

It might sound somewhat stale, but the ability to listen to the client is one of the independent firms’ greatest strengths. Outside the incessant pressure on revenues and targets of the brand name banks, RMs can be liberated to truly develop a deeper and closer trusted relationship with the clients. Very simply, this can then be converted to a more powerful, insightful, inclusive advisory platform that covers the wealth preservation, and wealth transitions needs of the families.

Looking to the next generations

The IAM and EAM sector should also be focusing on wealth transition and the younger generations who hold, inherit or make the private wealth in the region. Catering advice and expertise to these generations is a vital element in sustainable business. And the smart use of technology, digitalisation and the enabling solutions of fintech, must be applied.

Technology the disruptor

Do not underestimate the pivotal role technology is likely to play in this industry. Whatever one might feel about the human element of wealth management and its role in the future, digital advances will make either robo-advisers or the individual RMs far more efficient and targeted. The age of democratisation of data and information is on us, so independent firms must react strategically to this opportunity and challenge.

Tougher times might make for greater opportunity

The discussion concluded with a general view that the challenging financial market conditions facing the world as 2018 turns to 2019 will be generally beneficial for the independent wealth management sector, providing the right strategies and the right people are in place.

We have refreshed the format for the event – and we think it’s particularly relevant at a time of so much change and opportunity for the industry.

We have designed the forum – along with the presentations, workshops, case studies and panel discussions – to bring together key market participants to discuss and debate the current positioning, role, opportunities, challenges and outlook for independent wealth management in Asia.