Albert S. Yeo is the President of BDO Private Bank Inc.
A client-centric approach is essential in the world of wealth management, particularly in times of great volatility and uncertainty. Many high-and ultra-high-net-worth individuals are not constantly online, with access to business news in real time — they have their own concerns to attend to. Successful wealth managers are attuned to this and attend to all their clients’ needs, giving them peace of mind to pursue their busy lives.
Liquidity is the lifeline of the investment world. An approach that centers around holistically helping clients in all areas, from insurance, to investments and planning, and so on, brings success. During the chaos of the pandemic, providing our clients with extensive support, guidance, and reassurance and ensuring that they were adequately diversified, even across alternative assets such as gold, which we had been promoting since 2018 when it was roughly USD 1, 200 per ounce (nowhere near the roughly USD 1,950 price today), paid dividends. Not one client sold out their investments.
The Philippines continues to be a very income-oriented market, focused on fixed income, bonds, and coupons. With the falling rates here, we embarked early on diversification, such as the real estate investment trusts (REIT) market, which we also began promoting keenly in 2018. The key to wealth management, especially in the Philippines, is to listen to clients’ needs and help them understand key global trends and events as well as their impacts. For example, late last year, we conducted a seminar on the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) market. SPACs are publicly traded companies that are created for the purpose of acquiring or merging with an existing company. This is now catching on in Asia through Hong Kong and Singapore. In partnership with a US firm, we have opened those doors to clients.
The wealth management sector in the Philippines is in a robust phase of growth, at rates of 25% a year, which is well above more mature markets. To keep this momentum, the industry needs to attract, retain, and foster talent to ensure that clients receive the appropriate level of attention through the inevitable market ups and downs.