,Australia

Westpac to fortify wealth management team

Wetpac will expand its wealth management division to serve a growing demand for financial advice.

With more customers tipped to seek out expert financial opinion as the population ages, the bank aims to substantially increase the number of advisers on its books over the next five years.

There are about 1000 financial planners working for Westpac and its wealth management arm, BT.

But executives are finalising plans to raise this number markedly, with a focus on providing "scaled" financial advice that is narrower in scope and lower in cost.

The bank believes demand for this type of product will grow in an environment of slower house price growth and greater sharemarket volatility.

With profits from lending tipped to come under pressure from slower credit growth, banks are eyeing wealth management for its potential to generate big profits.

In a sign of the industry's growth trajectory, the value of superannuation is projected to balloon from $1.4 trillion today to some $6 trillion by 2030.

Wealth management is also attractive to banks because it is "capital light'' - unlike lending, which requires large amounts of capital to be held against loans.

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