Awards for Distinction 2021 – Best Private Bank — North Asia

Best Private BankNorth Asia


Morgan Stanley
Private Wealth Management Asia

Best Private Bank — North Asia

Ernest Chan

head of Distribution, Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management Asia

“North Asia, China in particular, is the largest and highest-growth client segment in private banking. It is also the region where we, as a firm, have the best opportunities and competence to deliver our integrated platform to UHNW clients. We will help clients manage risk and opportunities in 2022, in a likely uncertain market environment.”

Winners rationale

Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management Asia has been named the best private bank in North Asia by achieving tremendous business growth, despite the region’s business environment being hampered by pandemic-related restrictions and a regulatory crackdown in 2021.

Running a private banking business in the said year hinged on risk management — which spans from a vigilant balance sheet management, careful regulatory monitoring to a flexible yet safe COVID travel policy. Morgan Stanley PWM Asia excelled in all these categories by making the right call at the right time in fixed income investments, new hires in ramping up its compliance force and paying extra attention to adjusting its internal travelling and quarantine policies between Hong Kong and China to keep in touch with clients while ensuring the health safety of bankers and office staff.

The ability to keep close with clients despite the pandemic has paid off: Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management Asia enjoyed the highest double-digit revenue and AUM YoY growth among all contestants in this category, with the majority of income sourced from transaction-based fees. What particularly impressed the judging panel is the fact that the strong increase in revenue was achieved while the bank was expanding its business — which necessitated additional operational expenses — thereby demonstrating the ability of management to spur the productivity of the existing team while reinvesting the profit into growing the business as a whole.

2021 marked the first year of Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management Asia’s three-year expansion plan in transforming its business into “PWM 2.0”. Despite a year of strong volatility, especially in Hong Kong and China markets, the bank made significant progress by completing over 50% of targets set to be accomplished in three years, and by weathering market fluctuations through sophisticated risk management which shielded the bank from bond defaults and multiple market drawdowns.

The ability to avoid downside and capture alpha stemmed from the backbone of the American bank’s renowned investment research capabilities — its Asia research team covers 1,600 stocks (whereas the MSCI Asia index had 1,472 constituents by the end of 2021). Its investment advisory service not only draws on the strength of its institutional-level resources but also involves cross-divisional collaboration with its Institutional Equity Division (IED), research, fixed income and other departments.

Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management Asia is Asian Private Banker’s Best Private Bank — North Asia for 2021.

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