French bank Credit Agricole has combined its global wealth management businesses into a single brand as part of moves to streamline its operations.
The businesses were scattered across several entities and subsidiaries but these have been unified under the name of Indosuez Wealth Management, a 140-year-old private bank acquired by Credit Agricole in 1996.
The process, which began in 2012, was completed yesterday with the announcement of the new name. "It gives us one single brand and identity. It also moves us into a new business model where we approach our clients in a more holistic manner," Indosuez Wealth Management head Patrick Ramsey told The Straits Times.
He noted that the globally integrated Indosuez is better suited to service clients who are becoming more global in their wealth creation and personal needs, adding that it also gives Credit Agricole efficiency in resource management.
Improving efficiency is a high priority for the industry as the financial sector navigates an increasingly stringent regulatory environment.
The challenge is not lost on Indosuez, Mr Ramsey noted.
It also moves us into a new business model where we approach our clients in a more holistic manner.
MR PATRICK RAMSEY, Indosuez Wealth Management head on integrating and streamlining the business.
"With global regulators becoming more strict and structured with requirements, the industry is under a greater pressure to maintain margins and manage cost of functioning," he said.
"The truth is, this business is not about having more or less people. We have to have the right size for our business model, and the right use of resources, in order to cope with regulatory burden and the changing demand of our clientele."
Indosuez Wealth Management operates 30 offices in 14 countries and employs around 2,700 people. In Asia, it has two booking centres - Singapore and Hong Kong - and a team of 62 relationship managers.
Despite the relatively small presence in the region, Indosuez still sees Asia as a key market. The region accounts for around 8 per cent of Indosuez's global activities and about €10 billion (S$15.5 billion) of its €110 billion assets under management.
Global assets under management grew from €93 billion in 2013, at a rate of around 9 per cent annually, "but in Asia our growth rate is even higher, at low double digits", Mr Ramsey said.
Indosuez has no plans to build its physical presence in Asia beyond Singapore and Hong Kong, but it is not concerned about its prospects in the region at a time when several European banks are reported to have scaled down or even pulled out of Asia.
"As cost becomes a huge part of the industry's equation, we all need to choose our battles and directions," said Mr Ramsey. "You need to decide where you want to focus and be sharper. Maybe not for others, but for us, Asia is a priority and a key pillar of our activities.
"But we recognise that the game is changing, with the local banks emerging as strong players. We would not claim to have the right expertise in very local needs.
"But we can be very complementary to local individuals or entrepreneurs who are taking their business interests and lifestyles global."