VP Bank: A Focused Platform to Attract Intermediaries in Asia

Sylvain Gysler, Executive Director at VP Bank in Singapore

Sylvain Gysler, Executive Director at VP Bank in Singapore

VP Bank’s commitment to independent asset managers combined with its Asia-centric business model, are among the key differentiators in targeting intermediaries in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Despite the smaller size and less advanced stage of development of the independent asset managers (IAMs) market in Asia, in comparison with Europe, highlighted by the lower amount of Assets under Management (AuM) these firms manage, there is good reason for optimism.

«IAM associations, first launched in Singapore and recently in Hong Kong, clearly show how this industry is gaining momentum, as well as better organizing itself,» claims Sylvain Gysler, VP Bank's Head of Intermediaries in Asia.

Entrepreneurial Style

His firm believes in the intrinsic growth linked to the development of emerging economies that is greater than in other parts of the world. VP Bank’s conviction is such that it expects the earnings contribution from its foreign target markets to rise from the current 28 percent to 50 percent by 2020.

For Gysler, it is all about keeping the bank’s intermediary clients at the centre of all its decisions. «A stable, nimble and lean organisation is part of our value proposition. Plus, we are continuously investing in our infrastructures as well as growing our headcount selectively looking to hire experienced relationship managers which we see as a suitable fit for our entrepreneurial style,» he says.

Giving Room For Further Expansion

As a case in point, VP Bank has moved to new offices at Asia Square Tower in Singapore, allowing to double the number of working places and giving room for further expansion.

Asia Square Tower 501

(VP Bank's new offices in Asia Square Tower, Singapore)

As a 60-year old platform set up by external (independent) asset managers (IAMs) for IAMs, VP Bank believes that what it can offer these intermediaries is somewhat different from its competitors.

Solid Capital Base

This segment represents the majority of the Liechtenstein-based private bank’s AuM. As a result, it is at the core of the offering. «IAMs worry about alignment of strategy and commitment to their own segment when private banks downsize and rethink their core offer. They want to partner with an organization which is dedicated to growth its IAM platform over the long term,» says Gysler.

For him, as an industry veteran, who joined VP Bank in January 2016, these facts were important in attracting him, along with the sound balance sheet and solid capital base of the overall group, reflected in its ‘A-‘ rating by Standard & Poor’s. «For many years, VP Bank has been earning top industry awards for the quality of its advice and services,» explains Gysler.

Short Decision Paths

«VP Bank has the right Asian know-how and gets access to more expertise by reporting directly to the local chief executive officer,» he explains. «This leads to a better understanding of the clients’ needs as well as flexibility and support.»

With taylor-made solutions, VP Bank has an edge over those competitors which might try to standardise or institutionalise the intermediaries offering. «I see intermediaries as a complement to the traditional Private Banking segment but it still remains tailor made solutions for high net worth individuals (HNWI). Therefore, the path to standardization taken by some competitors is not what we would want to follow,» says Gysler.

Innovative E-Banking Application

The technology aspect of the offering also reflects the importance that the bank places in its intermediaries business around the world. The e-banking platform, for example, provides access to clients’ data and stock trading functionalities on both computers and smartphones.

«This makes it unique in our industry,» explains Gysler. «We are also able to send data on the IAM clients’ positions and transactions via a standardised interface as commonly needed by family offices.»

Keeping Up With Demand

Putting in place and maintaining the products and services to support IAMs requires a team of specialists to deliver on the client promise. Gysler says that his intermediaries business is comprised of Senior Relationship Managers (RMs) with proven track records in the industry, and, for each RM, there is an assistant.

«Where we differentiate ourselves is in the quantity, quality and stability of headcount,» he adds. This is important at a time when some of his competitors have been freezing headcount in this segment or, even worse, downsizing. «VP Bank has implemented a ‘Chinese Wall’,» he explains, «segregating the roles between our RMs who are servicing IAMs and the bankers who are servicing end-clients, in order to avoid any conflict of interests.»

Further, and perhaps more importantly, this makes sure that the right specialist covers the right segment, given that they both require different skills.

From Unique Trading and Portfolio Capabilities...

«As some of our clients trade actively, we offer direct market access to our trading rooms in Singapore and Vaduz, covering the main time zones,» he says. «Moreover, and in line with our open architecture platform, we are able to implement direct broker agreements while our RMs and IAMs receive trading recommendations and support by senior investment advisers based in Singapore and covering Asian markets.»

Latest case in point, VP Bank recently offered exclusive private equity deals for its clients.

...to Wealth Planning and Fund Solutions

Supporting IAMs in wealth planning is another aspect of VP Bank’s offering. This includes insurance premium financing, an area where the bank has an edge with extensive experience in both Singapore and Hong Kong.

«Finally, VP Fund Solutions is our unique ‘one-stop shop’, that offers all of the services that constitute the investment fund business: from the establishment of funds, to fund administration, risk management, custodian bank activities, UCITS- and AIFMD-consistent fund management companies and distribution support, to fund brokerage and portfolio management,» Gysler emphasizes.

VP Bank Ltd was founded in 1956 and, with its 800 employees (735 in full-time equivalents) as at mid-2016, ranks amongst the largest banks in Liechtenstein. Today, VP Bank is present with offices in Vaduz, Zurich, Luxembourg, Tortola (British Virgin Islands), Singapore, Hong Kong and Moscow. VP Bank Group offers tailor-made asset management and investment advisory services to private clients and financial intermediaries.

Thanks to the Bank’s genuine open architecture, clients benefit from independent counselling: in its investment recommendations are not just the Bank’s own asset management solutions included but also the products and services of other leading financial institutions.

VP Bank is rated ‘A-‘ by Standard & Poor’s, and its shares are listed on SIX Swiss Exchange. The Bank has a solid balance sheet and capital adequacy. Its anchor shareholders take a long-term view and stand squarely behind continuity, independence and sustainability.

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