Credit Suisse sees an opportunity to gain market share among entrepreneurs as it looks to leverage its financial strength and brand.
Ian Marsh, CEO of private banking in the UK, said rivals were turning away from the segment but Credit Suisse would continue to target business owners.
“Now is the time to look after these clients,” he told Private Banker International.
“Their wealth is tied up in their businesses, and they are probably a few years further away from a liquidity event than they might have thought. This is the time they need help to finance in different ways.”
Marsh said the key things entrepreneurs were looking for in the current climate were not necessarily wealth management products, but included:
• help financing growth;
• M&A advisory around how to grow their business;
• private placements, for businesses that were not as near to IPOs as the owner had anticipated;
• and, for clients that have cash and are looking for other assets, Marsh said the bank can often work to identify, access and package relevant assets for them.
Marsh said access to the capital sections of the investment bank formed a central part of its offering to entrepreneurs.
Other private banks which have high profile campaigns to pursue entrepreneurs in wealth management include Barclays Wealth and Standard Chartered.
Barclays Wealth is sponsoring Ernst & Young’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards in Singapore until 2011 as part of a marketing initiative to the segment.
Didier von Daeniken, CEO of Barclays Wealth Asia-Pacific, said the bank had an unparalleled understanding of entrepreneurs, adding business owners were in need of suitable services “in these challenging times”.
But some private bankers regard entrepreneurs as risky clients to chase, describing it as a “toxic segment”, particularly as the economy worsens and loan defaults increase. They say the illiquidity of entrepreneurs’ wealth, which is often tied up in their businesses and sometimes highly geared, can strain relationships and result in losses.