Making millions is the first challenge but managing them successfully is even more challenging. That is where Falcon Private Bank comes in with personalised wealth-management solutions. We speak to the Eduardo Leemann, Chief Executive Officer, and Zafar Habib Khan, Chief Executive MENA Region, Falcon Private Bank, about their plans for this region
Falcon Private Bank (FPB) is an independent Swiss wealth management boutique, wholly owned by Aabar. They plan to enhance business with focus on providing wealth-management services to private clients and institutional investors in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
Eduardo Leemann, the Chief Executive Officer of Falcon Private Bank, speaks to us about the bank’s strategy and their role in this region against the global business perspective. He introduces the young brand, “Though Falcon is only three years old – which explains why many people haven’t heard about us – Falcon has actually been in existence for over 50 years. Until 2008 it was AIG Private Bank but AIG sold it when they found a good investor in Aabar Investments. That’s when we changed the name to Falcon Private Bank.”
He adds, “Falcon is 100 percent owned by Aabar, which is 95 percent owned by IPIC that is, in turn, 100 percent owned by the Abu Dhabi Government.”
We query him on the principal role of FPB and how they are different from others. He responds, “Our ambition is to become a leading Swiss private bank that’s focused on emerging markets. We work with high-net-worth individuals and private clients, offering personalised, private banking solutions, local expertise and advice for wealth-management.”
He continues, “There is very little to choose from all the banks that you have. Apart from the best in service, the differentiation depends on what kind of products you offer – we make sure we offer optimised financial solutions. Execution depends on the Relationship Managers, supported by our global investment solutions team. We are ready to do things which others wouldn’t want to do.”
We discuss the current challenges in the banking business. Eduardo agrees, “The investment arena is not easy: first you have to find highly qualified private bankers; the next hurdle is to know what to invest your money on and where; then, you have to establish your name across key markets with selective marketing; the fourth challenge is with the regulatory aspects of the market.”
FPB’s Chief Executive MENA Region is Zafar Habib Khan, who explains that “In the emerging markets we invest in infrastructure. However, in the GCC we invest in sectors like real estate since land prices are increasing. Here, people mostly need money to invest in their own businesses. For evidence of increased business activity, just look at the immense traffic on the roads in Dubai and the malls full of people.”
“What has business been like so far,” we ask them, and it is Eduardo who responds, “We are managing USD13 billion and we just acquired Clariden Leu (Europe) Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Credit Suisse Group AG based in London, which will add another two billion to our asset base. We’ll focus on four geographical areas: Switzerland; Eastern Europe, especially Russia and Kazakhstan; GCC countries, especially the UAE, where we have offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi; China is the other market, serviced through Hong Kong.”
Coming back to our region, we ask about what the future holds. Zafar Habib Khan foresees that “Saudi is going to be the next big market, where we see a lot of activity with continued growth. There’s a lot of investment in infrastructure, road-networks, development and housing. Again, there are lots of tourism projects in Abu Dhabi and they are opening a theme park in Yas Island.”
Since Asia is creating wealth faster than the rest of the world, we understand Falcon Private Bank plans to have Asian clients contributing at least one-third of their global assets-under-management.
Eduardo Leemann signs off, saying, “Every crisis throws up huge opportunities and money is made under such conditions and not at the peak of the economic cycle.”