ZURICH (Reuters) - Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) wants to significantly grow the number of private bankers it employs in London, its head of wealth management for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) said, a sharp contrast to plans to scale back its UK investment bank.
Despite having thousands of employees at its London investment bank, Deutsche has fewer than 10 senior bankers focused on British wealth management and Peter Hinder told Reuters it has “underutilized” the UK market.
“The UK or the London region is like a magnet for wealth,” Hinder said in an interview.
Uncertainty over Britain’s future access to the European Union has meant Deutsche Bank has begun beefing up its presence in Frankfurt. However, the ability to serve the EU from London carries less weight in private banking.
“We see increasing inflows coming from Asia, for example Chinese clients,” Hinder said.
“They like London because they speak English, it is an Anglo-Saxon law system which they already know from the Hong Kong region, and so on. There are a lot of benefits which won’t go away with Brexit.”
A ramping up in its UK wealth management presence follows a similar move by Swiss rival Julius Baer (BAER.S), which is opening three new UK offices.
Britain is home to the world’s fourth-largest population of millionaire households behind the United States, China and Japan, according to Boston Consulting Group.
EMEA is the second-biggest wealth management market for Deutsche Bank by invested assets after Germany.
Overall, the bank plans to hire around 20 private bankers this year for its EMEA wealth management business, the first step in rebuilding the business whose invested assets fell last year by 15 billion euros ($18 billion) to 50 billion euros.
The new positions will be spread across Britain, Switzerland Italy, and the Middle East, Hinder said, without specifying how many bankers it will hire in London.
Away from Europe, the Middle East faces investor anxiety over several countries cutting diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar.
“We see activity coming back, this is promising but it’s not where it was six months back,” said Hinder, who became head of EMEA wealth management at Deutsche in December.
Hinder also said Deutsche in EMEA had regained more than two thirds of the assets which fled the bank last year amid negative headlines over multi-billion dollar fines from legal cases.
“The clients didn’t close their relationship,” Hinder said. “They said, ‘Look I’m a bit insecure because of all the headlines I’m seeing. I want to diversify’.”
Writing by Joshua Franklin; Editing by David Holmes