CASH MANAGEMENT | Staff Reporter, Singapore

BNP Paribas Wealth Management Singapore's new CEO eyes rapid development of digital solutions

Ernest Leung plans to invest more in technology.

Ernest Leung, chief operating officer for BNP Paribas Wealth Management Asia Pacific, will now assume another position - chief executive officer for wealth management, BNP Paribas Singapore. According to BNP Paribas, this dual role will enable Leung to further enhance the bank's business development plans and infrastructure support across Asia Pacific, while continuing to drive franchise growth in Singapore. In a talk with Asian Banking and Finance, Leung outlines his insights and plans:

Q: What makes you excited about your new position?

I am particularly excited to witness first-hand the growing presence of BNP Paribas Wealth Management in the market place. We are one of the fastest growing players in the industry by AuM in Asia, and have achieved a much higher degree of awareness and recognition in the last few years. The industry accolades BNP Paribas Wealth Management has received over the past few years also reinforce our position as a leading wealth manager in Asia. These achievements are the bank's vital drivers and I am delighted to play a role in taking the business into the next level.

According to industry data, Singapore has $0.5 trillion of assets under management, a growth rate of 25% since 2008. There is no doubt that Singapore is right at the heart of this explosion of wealth in Asia. Its value proposition including political and economic stability, transparency in governance and regulatory framework has helped to intermediate this growing pool of wealth and put it to productive use. BNP Paribas Wealth Management has strong ambitions in Asia and the commitment to bring this vision into realisation is supported by top country, regional, global and business line management levels.

I am thrilled and honoured to be managing the business at this point in time. With a long history of serving HNWIs in Singapore, I shall ride on these successes we have achieved to date to further grow the franchise.

Q: What three goals are you focused on in your new position?

Firstly, BNP Paribas Wealth Management is committed to growing its business in Asia and my foremost task is to continue to invest in local talents in order to develop new business, broaden our client base and serve them with the highest standards.

Secondly, we shall further expand and upgrade bankers via targeted recruitment and training. BNP Paribas Wealth Management is taking a holistic and long-term view on talent development. The opening of the BNP Paribas Asia Pacific Campus in Singapore a year ago is an example of our commitment to invest in talent for the long term in the country. A range of programmes designed to cover key paths are offered through the Campus, including leadership and management, individual skills, risk and credit as well as product and technical proficiencies.

Thirdly, we will continue to improve our platform in order to enhance overall efficiency and deliver quality service to our clients by leveraging more on BNP Paribas Group, both on front and back offices.

Q: What will you do differently in this position?

BNP Paribas Wealth Management has been a leading private bank in Asia and has maintained a presence in the region since 1860. We opened a representative office in Singapore in 1968. We shall continue to leverage on this solid foundation and grow the business.

Digital is an area that we aim to develop and grow very rapidly. Younger generations have different traits compared to their predecessors. They are more globally mobile and technology aware. To keep apprised of these new demographic changes, we are strengthening our digital and mobile capabilities to complement our bankers to deliver the bank’s service to the client.

Q: What changes are you planning for?

As I mentioned earlier, digital and mobile solutions are definitely going to be a game changer for the wealth management industry.

Technology will generate more touch points and improve the ways in which private bankers serve their clients. BNP Paribas Wealth Management is ready to manage this transition in a rapidly evolving environment by investing in digital technologies to create new value propositions to target clients.

Emerging HNW markets are more skewed towards UHNW and the key driver of growth in Asia is expected in the UHNW client segment. BNP Paribas Wealth Management has established the Key Client Group – a specialised team dedicated to serving the mega wealth clients by providing a suite of customised offerings for single family and billionaires. We shall continue to strengthen products and service offerings to cater for this group of clients.

Q: What are your key business philosophies?

BNP Paribas Wealth Management leverages on a “one bank” approach to mobilise resources from the BNP Paribas Group, allowing us to deliver a full suite of investment banking activities to clients in addition to wealth management offerings.

Developing a client-centric approach is at the heart of our strategy: we organise our business by markets, which allows us to have closer proximity to our clients and a better understanding of our clients’ needs. Given the changes in the banking environment, it is imperative for us to be closer than ever to our clients in order to provide customised and value added services.

Q: What previous positions prepared you for this one and how did they do so?

I was Head of Strategy and Business Development and most recently COO of BNP Paribas Wealth Management Asia Pacific. In these positions, I was able to build close working relationships with a group of highly talented individuals within the bank. This network of expertise, knowledge and experience is vital to the success of the bank, and I must say I am extremely privileged to have the support of such talents.

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