Delivering Sustainable Solutions for Clients in Asia
An interaction with Arnaud Tellier, Head of Wealth Management, South- East Asia published in The Business Times, Singapore.
“As a wealth manager, we offer one of the most comprehensive suites of investment strategies and screening approaches allowing investors to grow their wealth, , while helping the planet in terms of the environment or other social metrics.
Our approach has been recognised by a number of Asia Family Offices and private investors who are adopting our sustainable-led investment strategies."
As the needs of Asia’s ultra-wealthy evolve amid an uncertain global landscape, BNP Paribas continues to attract private banking clients from the region who are drawn to the bank’s award-winning investment platform, and the wide-ranging services it offers as a global bank.
BNP Paribas’ deep capabilities in the areas of sustainable and ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) investing, and its growing investment in digital client solutions, further resonate with a younger generation of high net worth clients.
The bank is no stranger to the region, having been present in Asia Pacific for almost 160 years. Today, the BNP Paribas Group operates in 13 markets in the region, with more than 18,000 employees across its various business lines.
“We offer our clients an extensive range of investment products and services. At the same time, we leverage on the Group’s diversified business model to offer them solutions from other business lines such as corporate banking, which is well represented across Asia, Europe and the United States,” says Arnaud Tellier, Head of Wealth Management, South- East Asia for BNP Paribas.
He adds: “We also take a truly long- term view when managing our clients’ investments, which sets us apart.”
These capabilities are backed by the Group’s financial strength, A+ credit ratings, highly diversified business structure, and global geographic reach across Europe, Asia and the United States.
Collectively, these attributes have helped BNP Paribas’ Wealth Management business grow its assets under management (AUM) in Asia to US$89 billion, propelling it to seventh spot in terms of AUM in Asia, according to the 2018 Asian Private Banking league table.
This has also resulted in various awards recognising the wealth management division in 2018 including “Best Overall Asia Private Bank” and “Best NRI Offering” in Southeast Asia by WealthBriefingAsia; “Best Private Bank for Global Indians” and “Best Private Bank for Investment Advisory” by Asian Private Banker.
In 2019, BNP Paribas was awarded “Best Impact Investing” and “Best SRI Offering” in Greater China as well as “Best Private Bank for Customer Facing Digital Capabilities in Southeast Asia” and “Best Innovative Client Solution” by WealthBriefingAsia.
A Comprehensive Product Offering
One of BNP Paribas Wealth Management’s key competitive advantages is an integrated banking model that offers clients a full range of investments, business solutions and family services; including wealth planning, trust and insurance referral and philanthropy.
Underpinning this suite of solutions is a focus on providing clients with customised and holistic solutions that are designed to meet their long-term needs. Such an approach has led to the rapid growth of the bank’s advisory and Discretionary Portfolio Management (DPM) approaches over the past 18 months.
Buoyed by the robust performance of its managed investment strategies, DPM and advisory account openings have seen a healthy uptick over the past year.
Commitment to sustainability
Whether it’s the long-term perspective it adopts when dealing with clients or the way it runs its own business, BNP Paribas has put sustainability at the heart of its ethos. Simply put, it wants to leverage its position as a leading bank to make a positive impact on the world.
To this end, BNP Paribas has a dedicated team of specialists who carry out financial analysis using proprietary methodology to identify environment, social and governance material issues.
The Wealth Management division works closely with its counterparts in Corporate and Institutional Banking and Asset Management to develop Sustainable Responsible Investment (SRI) products catering to its clients’ needs. It currently offers more than 30 SRI products across equities, funds, bonds and DPM.
“As a wealth manager, we offer one of the most comprehensive suites of investment strategies and screening approaches allowing investors to grow their wealth, while helping the planet in terms of the environment or other social metrics. Our approach has been recognised by a number of Asia Family Offices and private investors who are adopting our sustainable-led investment strategies,” says Mr Tellier.
“We are seeing growing interest among our clients, especially those representing the NextGen, in SRI and impact investing solutions and believe that we are best-positioned in Asia to accompany such clients. We believe that integrating sustainable practices allow us to enhance and preserve value for clients.”
To increase awareness among its clients and employees on ESG-related issues, BNP Paribas Wealth Management conducts training sessions on relevant topics for relationship managers and investment consultants. It also offers an online course on sustainability from Cambridge University, and an executive programme conducted in partnership with University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership that focuses on developing sustainability leadership skills for entrepreneurs.
Since 2016, the bank’s Wealth Management division and its clients have been key participants at BNP Paribas’ annual Sustainable Future Forum in Singapore, a leading pan-Asia conference on Sustainable Finance and Investment that has gained prominence on the global stage not only for its relevance and influence, but also because of the strong credibility of BNP Paribas as a host.
The 2019 edition will take place in September. The success of the Forum has spun off editions in Paris and New York.
These efforts are yielding tangible results and have not gone unnoticed. BNP Paribas was named “World’s Best Bank for Sustainable Finance 2018” by Euromoney and “Sustainable Investment House of the Year 2018” by Asia Risk.
Investing in Digital Solutions
To enhance the client experience and to improve its operational efficiency, BNP Paribas has invested heavily in digital solutions for its Asia private banking platform.
For instance, it established an innovation lab based in Singapore that uses human-centred design to improve the client experience by fostering new and innovative ideas, co-creating with clients and brought to life through the bank’s technology teams in collaboration with partners from the fintech ecosystem.
For wealth management clients, the bank has developed a number of digital tools including myWealth; an e-Banking platform that allows its clients in Singapore and Hong Kong to view past transactions, access statements and view equity research.
These tools were refined this year to make them more user-friendly and clients are already responding positively - the usage rate has increased by more than 70% in the last six months.
Clients will be able to do even more with myWealth as new features continue to be added.
The latest additions to the platform are online trading of equities on exchanges, viewing real-time order status and holdings, as well as receiving automated trade notification via email and SMS.
The bank’s digital innovations were recognised in 2019 by WealthBriefingAsia: “Private Bank – Best Customer Facing Digital Capabilities in Southeast Asia” and “Best Innovative Client Solution in Asia.”
BNP Paribas Wealth Management also leverages technology to accelerate its own organisation transformation efforts. It has made technology-supported enhancements to digitise processes, making them faster, smarter and more agile for both clients and staff.
For example, myOnboarding is a digital solution that has redefined the client onboarding process. What previously had required manual completion of multiple documents and signature authorisations have now been replaced with an enhanced experience that only requires a single e-signature for authorisation.
At the same time, the bank is investing in developing talent and skills throughout the organisation to align with its transformation goals.
Says Mr Tellier: “We are well on our way to creating a bank of the future which will, I believe, continue to go from strength to strength in Asia.”
The above article was first published in The Business Times, Singapore edition.