Swiss bank, UBS, is planning to expand its Africa operations as growth rates exceed 5% and boost demand for banking services for the continent’s high earners.
The bank seeks to increase profits by tapping into the need for wealth management and targeting African entrepreneurs and high-net-worth individuals who have at least $3m to invest.
“Wealth management is key to the Africa franchise,” Sean Bennett, the Johannesburg-based managing director of UBS in sub-Saharan Africa, told Bloomberg yesterday.
“That’s what we lead with. We want to increase our physical presence before year-end and then do more in the next few years,” he said.
Bennett said the bank has hardly touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to providing banking services to Africa’s wealthiest.
“When countries grow at 7%, that’s a lot of people starting to make serious money,” Bennett said.
Nigerian growth is expected at 7.2% this year, according to the International Monetary Fund, while the organization said in April that Ivory Coast and Mozambique will both expand by 8% next year, the fastest pace in the region.
The bank did not comment where in Africa it plans to expand, but hopes to seek out the ‘hidden billionaires’ looking for somewhere to put their wealth.
Bennett said with UBS mostly catering to people who are already high profile, there is scope for growth among the hidden billionaires.
The bank currently has a presence in South Africa, and seven Middle Eastern countries.