Absa is looking to woo Africa’s super rich by setting up in-country wealth and investment management offerings outside its South Africa base and launching new tailor-made products as it pursues a renewed Africa-focused strategy.
The move forms part of the rebranded bank’s efforts to distance itself from Barclays Africa and take over services and functions administered by its former parent company.
Previously, high net worth individuals (HNWIs) – classified as individuals with investible assets of at least R10 million – outside South Africa were serviced by fly-outs from Barclays Dubai and Johannesburg offices.
Now, Absa’s Wealth Investment Management and Insurance (WIMI) unit is piggy-backing off its Corporate and Investment Bank capabilities in existing markets to set up in-country offices. It has launched a full offering in Kenya and is working to set up similar offerings Mauritius, Ghana and Botswana. Nigeria is “high on its agenda” as the group deals with the practicalities of setting up offices in the country, in which it has no current presence, according to Winston Monale, managing executive for Wealth and Investment Management.
The in-country offerings are expected to allow the bank to further entrench existing client relationships, compete more aggressively for new clients, and capitalise on exponential growth in HNWIs in markets such as Kenya, Ghana and Mauritius.
The business has also appointed Société Générale Securities Services as a platform provider. The online platform gives clients real-time access to dollar, euro and sterling-based investment portfolios as well as best-of-breed structured products and off-shore multi-managed solutions.
The new offerings are better than those it used to offer as part of the Barclays Group, Monale says. “They are better priced for the customer and part of that is because of the better credit rating that Société Générale has in relation to Barclays … In terms of the structured product notes, we think that because of the credit expertise that Société Générale brings to the table, [these will] achieve better outcomes for the customer. The platform that Société Générale has built is extremely strong and it gives us great efficiency from an administration reporting perspective.”
Monale adds that lending across geographies is also “far easier” in that clients can now leverage off assets in one country to borrow in another.
He would not be drawn into disclosing the costs involved with setting up in-country offices but, in terms of the deal with Société Générale, both parties contributed to building capabilities equally.
According to an Africa Wealth Report, there are 145 000 HNWIs living on the continent, of which two-thirds are based outside of South Africa. In dollar terms, there are also more than 7 000 multi-millionaires.
Monale says wealth solutions appear to be “trending” with several industry players enhancing their offerings as HNWIs form part of the fastest growing business segment since the financial crisis.