Global Wealth Management: Competitive Dynamics 2018

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The global private wealth market had a good 2017, and the top players of the sector benefited significantly as a result. While there was no change in the order of the world’s five largest private wealth managers, the Super League effectively gained market share among HNW investors, growing assets under management (AUM) at a faster pace than the overall wealth markets. Net inflows were the strongest since we began tracking and collectively, profits rose as cost-to-income ratios improved.

This report benchmarks the world’s leading wealth managers by managed client assets and financial performance. It covers the 36 most prominent institutions, including standalone private banks and wealth managers, as well as competitors that are part of larger universal financial groups. All international public wealth managers with over $100bn in private client AUM are featured in the report.

Specifically the report –
– Ranks competitors by private clients’ AUM.
– Looks at client assets booked in other than pure wealth management services, including brokerage.
– Analyzes historical growth, as well as perspectives for further development of AUM, both in terms of current asset base expansion and attracting new money.
– Compares the profitability of the covered competitors, examining sources of revenue and the largest components of the cost base.
– Examines how wealth management units that are folded into larger organizations contribute to the wider business of the competitor in question.


– UBS retains an almost insurmountable lead as the world’s largest private bank, and one of the few that continues to benefit from a geographically diverse footprint.

– The assets of 36 competitors tracked in our Super League grew by 13.6% collectively, leading to a recovery of market share not seen since 2014.

– Cost-to-income ratios improved as revenue surged, as opposed to operating costs declining, making further profit growth entirely contingent on maintaining elevated revenues. This is something that a cooling market, which is expected in 2019, will struggle to provide.

– Many European private banks grew wealth-related profits as they are finally reaping the benefits of their restructuring and de-risking, which had depressed profits in 2015 and 2016.

Reasons to Buy

– Benchmark your AUM and financial performance against the biggest players in the industry.

– Understand the challenges in growing client assets in different geographies.

– Learn about your competitors’ strategies related to expanding client books.

– Find out how profitable the wealth management business is.

– Identify the industry’s best practices in managing operating costs and boosting revenues.

– Discover how wealth managers’ M&A activity affects their financial performance.

ABN Amro
Bank of America Merrill Lynch
BNP Paribas
BNY Mellon
Bank of China
Bank of Montreal
Charles Schwab
China Merchants Bank
Citi Private Bank
Crédit Agricole
Credit Suisse
Deutsche Bank
EFG International
Goldman Sachs
HSBC Private Bank
JP Morgan
Julius Baer
Morgan Stanley
Northern Trust
Royal Bank of Canada
Royal Bank of Scotland
Société Générale
Standard Chartered
US Trust
Wells Fargo
Bank of Singapore

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


1.1. 2017 was a good year for the wealth management industry 2

1.2. Key findings 2

1.3. Critical success factors 2


2.1. Growth in Super League assets accelerated in 2017, riding a market expansion 7

2.1.1. The top wealth managers regained market share in 2017, outgrowing the market 7

2.2. Traditional Swiss and American banks remain the market leaders by AUM 8

2.2.1. The top private wealth managers remain unassailable barring large-scale consolidation 8

2.3. All of the big shifts among the top managers were due to exceptional growth in AUM 10

2.3.1. Most of the big moves were from wealth managers with modest private wealth books 10

2.3.2. Only three of the top wealth managers saw their AUM drop in 2017, an improvement on 2016 10

2.3.3. UK players saw big gains in their AUM as the result of reorganization 12

2.3.4. Acquisitions are still boosting the Singaporean banks up the rankings 13

2.4. There has been little change in the focus of the private banks 14

2.4.1. Leading wealth managers are still primarily operating in the HNW space 14

2.4.2. Citigold and HSBC Premier boast two of the most established mass affluent investor propositions, but other banks are keen on this segment too 16

2.4.3. Asian wealth managers are pursuing wealth management at all AUM levels but have not yet pushed robo-advice 17

2.4.4. Robo-advisors offer a way to access small-scale investors but require careful positioning 19

2.5. Net new money to the top wealth managers surged in 2017 21

2.5.1. Almost all Super League competitors saw positive growth in client inflows 21

2.5.2. Over half of the net inflows tracked were from BoA Merrill Lynch, UBS, and Morgan Stanley alone 22

2.5.3. There is a continued shift away from offshore, continuing recent trends first established in the global financial crisis 24


3.1. Group performance improved but wealth divisions were stronger still 26

3.1.1. Group profits have bounced back from the 2016 slump 26

3.1.2. Super League competitors have been reshaping their business towards greater wealth management 28

3.2. The cost-to-revenue ratio edged down in 2017 after significant improvements in 2016 30

3.2.1. Improving ratios suggest only modest gains in efficiency at the world’s leading wealth managers 30

3.2.2. Cost-to-income ratios were flattered by a retreat from markets where players lack scale 34


4.1. Abbreviations and acronyms 35

4.2. Supplementary data 35

4.3. Methodology 37

4.3.1. Wealth manager competitor data collection 37

4.3.2. Exchange rates 37

4.4. Bibliography 38

4.5. Further reading 38


List of Tables

Table 1: Private wealth management unit standard minimum account thresholds 15

Table 2: Robo-advisor offerings among selected wealth managers, November 2018 20

Table 3: Retail wealth management client asses of selected competitors, 2015-17 ($bn) 35

Table 4: Net new money from reporting Super League competitors, 2011-17 ($bn) 36

Table 5: US dollar exchange rates 37


List of Figures

Figure 1: The top international wealth managers are gaining ground among HNW clients 8

Figure 2: All but Credit Suisse are pulling away from the pack, though Credit Suisse should perform better in 2018 9

Figure 3: Reshaping the book has wiped out any gains in size that 2017 should have generated for EFG 11

Figure 4: ABN Amro’s divestment overwhelmed its strong performance across the rest of the private bank 12

Figure 5: Both UK majors were back among the highest growing after years in the wilderness 13

Figure 6: Asian wealth managers typically leverage their massive retail banks, and so have large retail client books 17

Figure 7: OCBC has three programs for investors of varied wealth, capturing the maximum retail wealth possible 18

Figure 8: Super League net inflows were strong in 2017, suggesting a peak in the market that banks will struggle to replicate in 2018 22

Figure 9: JP Morgan risks being eclipsed by RBC and Julius Baer in the top five if current net new money trends hold 24

Figure 10: 12 of the groups tracked saw group profits change by more than a quarter in 2017, highlighting volatility 27

Figure 11: Wealth divisions became less of a profit driver in 2017 28

Figure 12: Most diversified groups tracked in the Super League have been growing wealth as a share of revenues 29

Figure 13: Barring a tiny shortfall at Standard Chartered all wealth divisions turned a profit, with most growing 30

Figure 14: The modest improvements in cost ratios were driven by income growth outpacing costs 32

Figure 15: Cost reductions were a one-off in 2016 with increased business in 2017 spurring higher costs as well 33

Figure 16: Ratios only shifted modestly at most wealth management units 34

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