US-based banking group Citi intends to raise its wealth management customer base in the Asia Pacific (APAC) market by 10% this year, reported Reuters.

The figure marks an improvement over last year’s growth of 8%.

The wealth business, part of the bank’s consumer banking arm, serves customers with investible assets of $100,000 to $10m in 17 markets.

According to the report, the growth will be led by investments in wealth advice technology and an increase in client relationship manager headcount.

Citi head of consumer banking for APAC and EMEA Gonzalo Luchetti was quoted as saying: “We are confident the investments we have made and continue to make will support double-digit client growth rates in 2019.”

In particular, the bank anticipates a faster growth in its China wealth management client base this year compared to 2018.

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The bank forecasts its wealth management client base in the region to grow over 30% in 2019.

According to the Credit Suisse Wealth Report, total household wealth in APAC in 2018 climbed 3% on a year-on-year basis to $114.6 trillion.

However, Knight Frank’s Wealth Report, released in March, forecasts more UHNWIs are expected to emerge from India than China, for the first time in recent years. India will see a 39% rise in the number of UHNWIs, to 2,697 by 2023.

Another UHNWI data provider, the Hurun Report, said as many as 213 Chinese tycoons lost their dollar billionaire status last year after poor market performance and the effect of the trade tensions.

Tougher Competition in Asia Wealth Management

Citi will face tough competition from HSBC, which is reportedly building up a new team to target UHNWIs in Asia. The move is said to be part of the British bank’s broader strategy to make 700 hires in the Asian private banking space.

JPMorgan is also considering expansion. Earlier this month it was reported that JPMorgan Chase was weighing the option of opening a private bank in China after the country released new rules to open its financial sector to foreign investors.

Signs of tougher competition are increasingly evident, however. Switzerland’s two largest banks, Credit Suisse and UBS, both saw poor performance in their Asian wealth management units last year.