As the wealth of Asia-Pacific's high-net-worth individuals continues to swell, so too does the size and reputation of the region's private banking industry. This is leading to speculation about whether its two main hubs – Singapore and Hong Kong – may be growing to such status that one day they will replace Switzerland as the global private banking capital.
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The relatively small economies of Vietnam and Cambodia are punching above their weight in terms of growth in The Banker’s latest Association of South-east Asian Nations ranking. Meanwhile, Singapore’s banks retain their dominance in the ranking in terms of Tier 1 capital.
An ageing population and shrinking labour pool have put a strain on Singapore's economy, leading to calls for it to be restructured to raise productivity and bring about price stability. This will come through more productivity-led growth and a stronger focus on macroprudential policies.
With Asia’s post-war business moguls now well into retirement, an unprecedented amount of wealth is set to pass to the next generation, representing an enormous business opportunity for banks.
Hong Kong has shown impressive growth in its foreign direct investment attraction, recording the largest global inward investment in the financial services sector.
As the economic scales tip in favour of emerging economies – particularly those in Asia – it seems increasingly likely that one of the region's leading financial centres will steal the status of global wealth management capital from Switzerland. The question is, which city will it be?