Awards for Distinction 2021 – Best Private Bank – Asia Pacific UHNW

Best Private Bank Asia Pacific UHNW


Morgan Stanley
Private Wealth Management Asia

Best Private Bank – Asia Pacific UHNW

Vincent Chui

head of Wealth Management, Asia Pacific, Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management

“We are honoured to be recognised by Asian Private Banker for our dedication to the Asian UHNW business. Such clients are typically highly successful entrepreneurs, businesses and asset owners who expect services and products of an institutional standard. At Morgan Stanley, we treat institutional clients and UHNW clients alike, given their AUM, sophistication and expectations, and strive to provide differentiated institutional ideas and solutions suitable to their needs.”

Winners rationale

The performance of Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management (PWM) Asia both in terms of the top-line business and AUM growth would have been impressive enough in a sanguine year for markets. But that it arrived during a punishing period for both Chinese equities and high-yield bonds was nothing short of remarkable.

The US bank’s efforts in preserving and growing the wealth of its regional UHNW and asset owners clientele — the bulk of which have more than US$100 million in investable assets per head — comes down to proactive, effective risk mitigation; astute directional calls on the market; and an unrelenting drive to deepen client relationships as well as forge new ones despite ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.

According to figures shared with the judging panel during the awards process, revenues derived from Morgan Stanley PWM Asia’s UHNW clientele jumped by a magnitude not seen anywhere else in the regional private banking industry, while client assets too increased sharply.

That partly reflected the dedication with which Morgan Stanley PWM Asia — a Greater China behemoth focused on the offshore hub of Hong Kong with a fast growing Singapore branch — strove to maintain client interaction and prospecting despite travel lockdowns in the region. Through a combination of versatility and additional safety measures, the Morgan Stanley PWM Asia bankers were among the most pro-active in the industry when it came to regional travel in 2021.

The bank signed up a proportion of new clients during the year that was nothing short of breathtaking compared to some of its regional peers — a feat that is all the more impressive given Morgan Stanley PWM Asia’s smaller number of RMs compared to some peers and its strict standard on client selection to safeguard franchise risk.

But perhaps more important was the bank’s effort to prioritise risk mitigation. Morgan Stanley PWM Asia is well known as an equity-minded powerhouse on account of the firm’s global leadership in equity trading and research. That position could leave client balances more vulnerable at times when the region’s stock markets buckle, as they did in China in 2021. Astutely, however, the bank decided to take a cautious view on Chinese A-shares at the start of 2021, a call that served as an excellent demonstration of Morgan Stanley’s heavyweight research capabilities at the group level.

The bank was able to spare its clients the worst of the Chinese property developers carnage when the highly leveraged high-yield issuers hit a liquidity crisis, urging them to exit or hedge the bonds earlier than many of its peers and slashing loan-to-value.

Finally, Morgan Stanley PWM Asia in 2021 proved itself capable of blasting through its own ambitious internal targets — another facet of the bank’s pitch that impressed Asian Private Banker’s judging panel. Demonstrating this, 2021 marked the first year of the bank’s three-year “PWM 2.0” transformation project. Despite a year of stomach-churning volatility in the markets, the bank was able to tick off 50% of the business objectives it had set itself for the full three years in a profound signal of intent and momentum.

For those reasons, Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management Asia is Asian Private Banker’s Best Private Bank – Asia Pacific UHNW for 2021.

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