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Nedbank sees opportunities in inclusive private banking

Dubai: If you thought private banking is meant only for those who have a few of millions of dollars to spare, it is time you got familiar with Nedbank Private Wealth, the private banking arm of the South African bank holding company, Nedbank Group.

Nedbank Private Wealth’s UAE operations are regulated by the UAE Central Bank and it sees huge opportunity to offer its wealth management services to a wide spectrum of customers cutting across nationalities and professional classes.

“A lot our clients come from various professions. They all need not strictly fall into the category of abundantly wealthy. In fact, we offer our services to clients starting from a minimum of $75,000 (Dh275,479). We believe in catering to a wider customer base than the typical private bank,” said Andrew Bates, the regional head of the Middle East and Asia, Nedbank Private Wealth.

The largest group Nedbank’s customers in the UAE and the region are western expatriate professionals. The bank also has a significant client base of non-resident Indians (NRIs).

“When a new client comes to us, we do not expect him to entrust his entire wealth to us to manage. As the time passes, as he gains confidence in us, we grow with him,” he said.

Nedbank sees growing opportunities to expanding its client base in the Middle East as many large banks are either exiting or reviewing their business models in the region. In the boom years many private banks deployed a number of bankers in the region, but eventually realised that the actual business did not support their original business plans. “With a number of banks withdrawing from the region, we see clearly an opportunity here in the region. Some of the bigger banks are refocusing on their core markets and operations that are creating opportunities in the private banking business,” said Bates.

At a time when a number of regional and international banks are scaling back their US client base due to rising regulatory hurdles and cumbersome compliance issues, Nedbank says it is open for business to US customers. The bank says it has taken a conscious decision to provide its US customers the banking services within the framework of US regulations.

“In the private wealth business we look after a number of US clients based here. We do a lot of reporting for these clients in terms of FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) compliance. We decided a long time ago that we will help our US clients in compliance so that we could continue working with them even when the rule changes are coming through,” said Bates.

Bates says, the private banking business in the region is very competitive. “It is true that there have been new private banks opening shop here but at the same time we also see a number of them scaling back their business or exiting the region. Ultimately it all boils down to the number of clients these banks have in the region. Our reason to be here is led by the demand from our clients in the region,” he said.

Nedbank Private Wealth is the new name for four well established businesses formerly known as BoE Private Clients, Fairbairn Private Bank Limited, Fairbairn Trust Company Limited and Fairbairn Trust Limited. The business currently belongs to Nedbank Group, a bank holding company, with its principal banking subsidiary being Nedbank Limited. The company’s shares have been listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange since 1969.