Germany Deutsche Bank is said to be pushing hard towards the Middle East, targeting wealthy individuals in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in
wealth management, as it works to regain grounds following asset losses suffered last year over concerns about its capital levels, Bloomberg has reported. Some of the bank’s clients had left in the wake of these concerns.
Bloomberg reports that the lender, based in Frankfurt, is looking to hire relationship managers and expand the products it offers wealthy clients in the region to attract new money.
Peter Hinder, who heads the bank’s wealth management in the EMEA region and leads its Switzerland office said during an interview with Bloomberg that he plans to hire about 20 private bankers for his region, but declined to give a more precise geographical breakdown for the Middle East.
“We have a clear growth agenda for EMEA and Middle East is our number one priority,” he said. “There will be more capital flowing into the region as Saudi Arabia is opening up,” Hinder said, adding that the economic reforms being undertaken by the country present “incredible potential” for the bank.
The wealth management unit’s invested assets plunged 26 percent in the fourth quarter to 216 billion euros as clients withdrew funds during a
period in which investors questioned the bank’s ability to withstand billions of dollars in fines. Net asset flow at the unit turned positive in the first quarter and the bank has said it plans to hire about 100 private bankers over the next 18 months across Asia, Europe and the U.S. Hinder oversees 56 billion euros in his unit.
While Deutsche Bank’s recent strategy revamp emphasized corporate banking, the lender is also following rivals in seeking to reap the rewards from steadier wealth management which can also be used to offer investment-banking services to the rich. The bank currently employs about a dozen private bankers in Saudi Arabia, Hinder said, and 80 in total.
Deutsche Bank, which also offers investment banking in Saudi Arabia, is among global banks investing in the kingdom in preparation for an
expected fee bonanza and wealth creation. The kingdom is becoming more attractive to foreign lenders as it overhauls its economy and plans to list Saudi Arabian Oil Co. in what could be the largest-ever initial public offering.
Only a handful of international banks, such as JPMorgan Chase & Co., Deutsche Bank and BNP Paribas SA, have licenses to open branches in the
kingdom. HSBC Holdings Plc, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and Credit Agricole SA operate in the country through minority stakes in local lenders. Credit Suisse Group AG, the Swiss wealth manager that has been prioritizing wealth management over investment banking, has also been seeking a license in the kingdom, its head of international wealth management Iqbal Khan has said.
“You’re hearing from many competitors how they are trying to get a foothold in the region and Saudi Arabia,” Hinder said. “We have finalized the revamp of our platform last year and will now massively expand our product offering throughout the next year and hire relationship managers in the kingdom.”