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WEALTH MANAGEMENT | Cesar Tordesillas, Thailand
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Thai banks intensify competion to lure wealthy clients

Thai banks have launched strategies to retain wealthy customers and attract the newly rich.

For Thai commercial banks, success in winning over these customers means success in expanding banking services in the coming years.

Of 3.37 million high-net-worth individuals in Asia, those with assets under management of more than US$1 million (Bt30 million), 50,000 are in Thailand.

Weidt Nuchjalearn, senior executive vice president of Krungthai Bank, said the number of high-net-worth clients in Thailand had been rising every year and their banks must assure them that their wealth will remain intact even in fragile economic conditions.

These people have more choices for investments to build their wealth, so bank staff must be financial advisers. Relationship managers and a synergy of financial subsidiaries in KTB will strengthen wealth creation for this segment, Weidt said.

"Our goal is to maximise their satisfaction in terms of return from assets allocation and privilege services," he said.

Kasikornbank is targeting individuals with net worth of at least Bt10 million, who control 70 per cent of total deposits in the banking system, said Krisada Lamsam, senior executive vice president. The bank calls this segment "The Wisdom".

Demand from these individuals for special care will only rise, said Lalitphat Toranavikrai, head of private banking at Siam Commercial Bank. 

SCB categorises its wealthy customers in two tiers: "Private Banking" for clients with more than Bt50 million in assets and "First Privilege Banking" for those with Bt10 million to Bt50 million in assets.

According to Kris Chantanotoke, executive vice president of Krungsri Group, banks are pursuing these clients by aiming to be one-stop services for all available investment products. "Krungsri Exclusive" is now offered to clients with Bt5 million or more. The bank believes that if it stays with these clients - mostly owners of medium-sized companies - from the start, they will find it hard to flee to other banks when they are richer.

"We will capture more clients in the provinces as many see their fortunes skyrocket after land sales. Many see better prospects due to the upcoming Asean Economic Community," he said.

SCB recently upgraded its private-banking services, covering members of heritage-wealth families whose net worth is above Bt50 million. Lalitphat said that for highly educated clients, there was an intelligence service to study investment products whose returns match their risk appetite. This service will be in addition to relations managers and private bankers who regularly assist them with general consultation.

SCB oversees about 7,000 private-banking customers with combined assets of more than Bt500 billion.

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