PBI’s editor, Meghna Mukerjee, comments on an eventful month in the private banking calendar

It’s always an exciting October for us at PBI. It’s that time of year when our attention is focused on Asia Pacific (APAC) and we get on with our annual PBI Global Wealth Summit (now in its 26th year) and Awards that takes place in Singapore. It is also that time of year when we release findings of our much awaited annual APAC Top 20 AUM Benchmark (all the details and rankings on pages 4,5 and 6).

No doubt this year too we welcomed a host of C-level private banking executives from APAC as well as around the world to our daylong Summit, which followed on to the glamourous awards do in the evening, celebrating best-in-class institutions across the globe and understanding the various global and local dynamics that lead to success in the private banking industry.

However, another region that we were fixated on this October – and particularly November – was, understandably, the US. This year’s American Presidential election has brought about the drama, the controversies and the unexpected. At the time of writing this note and going to print for this edition of the magazine, we are still recovering from the news around a Donald Trump win that most leading analysts and polls had written off (early reactions from wealth management industry experts on pages 10 and 11).

The 9 November 2016 date will remain unforgettable as it marks a drastic change in the way that the US politics will be shaped under the new administration. This will, of course, impact economic and socio-political relations with countries across the world.

The stock market hasn’t suffered the way it was expected to as a result of the Trump win (so far). Investors have been rattled but there has not been mass panic and, expectedly, the wealthy are rallying behind non-risky assets to take comfort in the stability they are used to. It is far too early to have clarity or even a fraction of real understanding around what the bigger ramifications of this election can and will be. However, what is certain is that big changes are indeed around the corner – when it comes to taxes, banking regulations, transparency and much more.

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One of the key take-aways from the APAC AUM survey this year was how restructuring and consolidation have led private banks’ AUMs to decline or flatline in APAC – a region that has seen continuous and robust growth in total wealth and the number of wealthy in recent years. The wheels of change have slowed down even the ‘golden goose’ region of private banking.  Regulators in the US have been making demands and churning out new mandates at a fast and furious rate since 2010, which has already affected the way private banks operate in a majority of countries globally, but bigger changes are yet to come.

Regulations such as FATCA that were introduced under the Obama administration changed the wealth management game significantly but it is tough to say what will happen under Trump’s leadership. After a turbulent few years, more restructuring seems to be around the corner alongside increased uncertainty, giving way to interesting times to say the least. It is easy to say that this has been one of the most exciting and surprising Octobers (and Novembers) for us at PBI, and this is only just the beginning.