Business / Economy

Reveling in good fortune of middle class

By Karl Wilson (China Daily) Updated: 2014-05-12 09:35

Others like WealthInsight, an industry research group, is not as bullish, saying Singapore is expected to outstrip Switzerland by 2020 as the world's leading wealth management center.

Analysts say the reason for such projections is obvious - more wealth is being created in Asia and it is being created faster than anywhere else in the world. But not everyone is convinced.

Patrick Odier, chairman of the Swiss Bankers Association, says he does not see Singapore as a threat to Switzerland's private banking.

Reveling in good fortune of middle class
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Reveling in good fortune of middle class
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Singapore is a crowded market, with banks chasing a community of largely Asian clients who are less interested in complete secrecy - as has been the case in Europe - but more in achieving yield.

"It seems pretty obvious that in time Singapore will overtake Switzerland," says Keith Pogson, head of assurance practice for banking and capital markets with EY.

"When that will happen I don't think any one can predict with any degree of certainty. But it will happen," he tells China Daily Asia Weekly.

Pogson says there are different dynamics at play when discussing Singapore becoming the world's leading wealth management center.

"In recent years we have seen increased transparency and regulation globally around financial services," he says.

"(This has created) a realignment within the banking sector and a debate about private banking.

"Private banking has always been about secrecy. High-net-worth customers were assured complete discretion and above all their privacy was protected by the bank."

In the past, private banks have also been associated with other, less savory aspects of banking such as tax avoidance and money laundering, he adds.

"Now they have to fully disclose who is doing what and where, added to which you now have cross-border disclosure. So there is no secrecy anymore."

Pogson says the spectrum has now changed.

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