MANILA, Oct 3 (Reuters) ING Private Bank hopes to raise the amount of money it manages in Asia by 28 percent a year over the next three years, as it tempts wealthy Indians and Chinese to start investing abroad.
Renato de Guzman, Asia chief executive of the Dutch bank's private bank, said his unit had built up a $23 billion pool of assets, with average annual growth of 34 percent over the last four years.
His hopes for growing the business are high as governments are starting to allow their citizens to invest more abroad in an effort to reduce upward pressures on currencies and inflation from fast growing foreign exchange reserves.
China is launching an experimental scheme to allow some citizens to invest in Hong Kong financial markets, while India now allows individuals to invest up to $200,000 a year overseas. Thailand has allowed brokerages and asset management firms to offer up to $5 million of offshore investments to each client.
''We're doing better than average. There's strong growth everywhere,'' Singapore-based de Guzman said in an interview on the sidelines of a conference in his native Philippines.
''We're building certain onshore businesses everywhere, exploring where ING has a strong local presence,'' he added, citing Japan and South Korea as examples.
But most of ING Private Bank's business comes from India and China, where booming property markets and soaring stock prices have enriched many individuals in the last couple of years.
In India, de Guzman hopes to funnel funds from wealthy individuals through a network of over 400 branches run by ING Vysya Bank, a joint venture formed in 2002.
In India, ING Private Bank Asia is willing to waive its $2 million minimum investment rule in the hope of drawing wealthy Indians who will steadily increase their investments.
In China, de Guzman is helping investors with funds already in foreign currencies.
''You can offer offshore private banking to clients with funds abroad, because of their export businesses or if they've done an IPO,'' he said. Hong Kong has become a major centre for initial public offerings by mainland Chinese firms.
The number of high net worth individuals in Asia-Pacific -- those with $1 million or more in assets excluding their homes -- rose by 8.6 percent in 2006 to 2.6 million, according to a report by Capgemini and Merrill Lynch.
Global players such as market leader UBS , Citigroup and HSBC Holdings <0005.HK> are among rivals competing to manage the funds of fast-growing Asia's wealthiest people.
ING Private Bank typically directs its clients' money into mutual funds and structured notes, as well as helping them leverage in low-interest rate currencies, such as the yen. It also invests in private equity funds, especially those run by ING.
For example, ING Private Bank Asia accounts for 11.5 percent of the $330 million of equity in an ING Real Estate fund to build housing in China. It will also contribute 8-10 percent of the equity in a $650 million fund to buy shopping centres across Asia.
REUTERS SR RS1717