* To hire 100 client advisors in Hong Kong over two years
* Had $286 bln worth of assets in Asia as of end 2016
* Regional banks crowding low-and-mid-segment of wealth
* StanChart to raise wealthy client threshold to at least $5
HONG KONG, May 4 (Reuters) - UBS Group AG plans to
hire about 100 wealth management client advisors over the next
two years in Hong Kong, the biggest wealth hub in Asia-Pacific,
to grab a bigger share of the fast-growing mid-tier millionaire
The Swiss bank's sharpening focus on the middle of the
wealth market comes as some global banks including Standard
Chartered are raising the threshold for their private
banking clients amid growing competition from regional players.
"For us, the sweet spot is high-net-worth clients with
investable assets of between $2 million and $50 million,"
Jean-Claude Humair, regional market manager for Hong Kong at
UBS, a bank known for its billionaire client list, told Reuters.
"We see tremendous untapped opportunity in the entrepreneurs
segment in Hong Kong," he said. "The plan is to hire 50 client
advisors in Hong Kong every year for the next two years to cater
for these HNWIs (high-net-worth individuals)."
With $286 billion worth of client assets as of end 2016 and
about 1,100 client advisers, UBS is the largest private bank in
Asia, followed by Citigroup and Credit Suisse Group
, as per industry tracker Asian Private Banker.
During the first quarter, a rebound in markets trading
generated record wealth management revenues and profit before
tax at the Swiss bank in Asia-Pacific, which has emerged as a
key battleground for global wealth managers.
With more than five million people boasting at least $1
million in liquid assets, Asia is the fastest-growing wealth
region globally, according to data from Capgemini.
UBS is shifting focus because the mid-segment is growing
faster than the top-tier, or the ultra-high-net worth segment,
which the bank classifies as individuals with more than $50
million in investable surplus.
BUCKING THE TREND
The high-net-worth business offers a better return on assets
than that offered by the ultra-rich segment, UBS's Humair said.
The bank already covered three out of five billionaires in the
region and almost 90 percent in Hong Kong, he added.
With a host of local and regional banks crowding the
low-and-mid-segment of the market, many of UBS's global private
banking rivals have raised their minimum wealth thresholds in
the last couple of years to jump clear of rivals.
Standard Chartered's private banking business plans to raise
the threshold from $2 million to at least $5 million over the
next two years to optimise resources, a Standard Chartered
She added the bank would continue to serve existing clients
with assets of $2 million to $5 million.
JPMorgan last year doubled its target client segment
to at least $10 million in Asia.
Meanwhile, regional banks including DBS Group have
bolstered their presence in the millionaire segment via
acquisitions. DBS, Singapore's biggest lender, on Tuesday
reported record first-quarter profit for its wealth management
"I do believe we continue to gain share," DBS Group CEO
Piyush Gupta said. "It's mostly from smaller players. I don't
think we are gaining market share against UBS, for example. UBS
continues to grow as fast, if not faster than we do."
According to Capgemini, the ultra rich segment - which it
defines as individuals with $30 million or more in assets - make
up just 0.7 percent of Asia's wealthy population, with the rest
accounted for by those with $1-$30 million in assets.
Total household wealth in Asia Pacific grew by 4.5 percent
in 2016 from a year ago, compared to a drop of 1.7 percent in
Europe and 2 percent growth in North America, according to
Credit Suisse global wealth report.
(Reporting by Sumeet Chatterjee; Additional reporting by
Anshuman Daga in Singapore; Editing by Stephen Coates)