Fri, Aug 10, 2007 - Page 11 News List

UBS aims to manage 10 percent of Taiwan's wealth

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UBS AG, the world's biggest money manager, aims to manage a tenth of Taiwan's private wealth by 2015, said Dennis Chen (陳允懋), UBS's head of wealth management in Taiwan.

"We have a fairly large undeveloped market in Taiwan," Chen, who runs UBS's onshore private-banking business in Taiwan, said in an interview from Taipei today. "We really see the potential for the wealth market to grow."

Chen said UBS currently manages about 1 percent of the onshore wealth in Taiwan, Asia's fourth-largest banking market by assets. Taiwan is the Swiss bank's second-largest Asian market by assets under management, after Hong Kong, Chen said.

UBS is among foreign banks competing to serve Taiwan's richest, who hold more wealth than in any Asian country except China and Japan. The country had 210,000 people at home and abroad with net assets of at least US$1 million in 2005, controlling about US$585 billion in wealth, according to The Boston Consulting Group, which advises private banks.

The two bank branches UBS plans to open next year will help growth in its wealth management services, Chen said, adding that the company isn't looking at any acquisitions.

UBS, which has one branch in Taiwan, on Aug. 2 obtained regulatory approval to open two more. UBS will add one branch each in the central city of Taichung and in Kaohsiung in the south, Chen said.

"We figure probably 50 percent of Taiwan's wealth is outside the greater Taipei area, mainly in Taichung and Kaohsiung," he said. "These are still fairly undeveloped areas because most banks are focusing on the Taipei area."

The bank is also looking at other regions in Taiwan, such as the cities of Tainan and Taoyuan, Chen said.

One of the bank's biggest challenges is hiring and developing people, Chen said. UBS plans to increase its number of private bankers by 10 to 80 by year's end, he said in July.

"Private banking and wealth management are a fairly new business in a way, particular for the type of clients we are targeting, so there are very few experienced bankers," he said.

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