Where Europe Meets Asia
For two decades now, the Asian Investment Conference (AIC), the region's largest and most exclusive investment conference, has delivered unrivalled access to expert speakers from around the world and provided thought-provoking insights. And this year was no different. Over 3,000 attendees joined an impressive line-up of political leaders, entrepreneurs, central bank officials and academics as Credit Suisse celebrated the AIC's 20th anniversary.
The AIC is not only an unparalleled event in Asia, it is also a gateway to Asian opportunities for clients from around the globe. Having worked in Asia for several years, Claudio de Sanctis, Head of Private Banking Europe at Credit Suisse, knows the region inside out, and is well aware of the manifold opportunities the AIC offers clients. Every year, a growing number of European high and ultra-high net worth clients (including professional investors, entrepreneurs and family offices) and prospects from Europe attends the Conference. "The main benefit for our clients is that they hear about the trends in Asia first-hand and learn to understand what is happening in the region. The connections they can build through direct contact with peers from Asia – be it entrepreneurs or political leaders – is a unique opportunity for them," says de Sanctis.
A Continent with Great Opportunities…
In an insightful speech, Nicolas Sarkozy, former President of the French Republic, argued at the AIC that while in the past, the world's global axis used to be the West, it is now Asia. Sarkozy's view is supported by findings published in Credit Suisse's latest Global Wealth Report, which among other aspects, analyzes the trend in total household wealth from 2000 to 2016, and how this wealth is broken down by region. The study concludes that since the beginning of the millennium, total household wealth has doubled globally, with an outstanding contribution from China, where household wealth has grown 11 percent since 2000. This is equivalent to a five-fold increase over the 16-year period. Today, China alone accounts for 9 percent of the top decile of global wealth holders, which is well above France, Germany, Italy or the United Kingdom.
With the rise in economic development in Asia, the ties between European industry and Asia have also become increasingly close. China once again clearly stands out in this area. For example, the country is Germany's most important trading partner in Asia. According to the Federation of German Industries (BDI), in 2015, the two countries exchanged goods valued at almost EUR 163 bn. By means of comparison, during the same period, Germany and India traded goods valued at EUR 17.3 bn. Trade flows between Europe and Asia have grown rapidly over the past ten years and Asia is now the most important trade region for the European Union.
…also for European Clients
Clients of Credit Suisse's international wealth management business are also increasingly investing in the Asian market, and this trend is on the rise. One key advantage for clients is the bank's combination of traditional private banking and the services offered by Asset Management, as well as the collaboration with Credit Suisse's Investment Banking business, which is a leader in many Asian countries.
"It's about delivering client-driven solutions", says Michael Levin, Head Asset Management Asia-Pacific at Credit Suisse. "Thanks to the close collaboration with Private Banking, we can leverage the deep understanding of the needs and challenges faced by clients in Europe and around the world, and develop specific solutions for them", he says. One way that Credit Suisse adds value for its clients is, for example, the joint ventures in China with ICBC, and in India with HDFC Asset Management, the country's largest asset manager.
In order to meet the needs of ultra-high net worth European private banking clients, de Sanctis has a dedicated team of Relationship Managers in Singapore. They offer investors access to opportunities for global diversification and investments in Asia, and establish the necessary contacts on the ground, for example if an entrepreneur or family office is looking to expand to Asia. "Just recently, the team in Singapore made all the connections needed to help a large family office in Spain acquire a shopping mall in Singapore", says de Sanctis.
The AIC: Building Bridges Between East and West
As shown by the findings of the recent CSRI Emerging Consumer Survey, the future looks bright for Asian consumers. According to the survey, over 40 percent thereof expect to see their financial circumstances improve in the next six months, and there is a noticeable general lifestyle "upgrade" underway in Asia. This translates into room to make investments, for example in Europe.
"This year, Europe was very much at the center of the issues discussed by clients who attended the AIC", says de Sanctis. "Asian investors are following the developments in Europe very closely, including the upcoming French election. The AIC therefore also provides a unique opportunity to discuss the potential implications of these events and to open doors for Asian clients who want to make acquisitions in Europe." Following last year's event, IWM Europe made the introduction for Asian institutional clients who wished to invest in a minority stake in a European-managed real estate company. Various teams in Europe and Asia worked together to bring all parties together and close the deal, worth several hundred million Euros. "It's all about building bridges, about living globalization and diversification. And the AIC is about as good as it gets if that's your goal", says de Sanctis.