The Association of Independent Asset Managers Singapore was launched in 2011 by a handful of individuals whose companies look after seriously wealthy individuals, whose needs are significantly different from those of the merely affluent, according to AIAM president Anthonia Hui.
Hui is a former private banker whose more than 20 years of private banking experience have included stints with Citigroup, RBS Coutts, BNPP and Credit Suissse, in Hong Kong, Paris, London and Switzerland as well as Singpore. Currently she is chief executive of Singapore-based AL Wealth Partners Pte, which she co-founded in 2007 with Leonardo Drago, another former bank executive.
The organisation now has around 25 member companies as well as 13 “associate” members – mainly private banks, information technology providers, law firms, accountancy firms and other entities that typically provide the organisation’s members with the products and services they require to look after their clients, Hui said.
Other AIAM member companies in addition to AL Wealth include Crossinvest Wealth Management, Aris GSK Solutions, Swiss-Asia Financial Services, and Verity Private Asset Management.
Julius Baer & Co, Credit Suisse, Barclays, LGT Bank Singapore and UBS are among the AIAM’s associate member companies.
Education a key aim
Hui says that educating wealthy Asian individuals and others about the concept of the independent wealth manager is among AIAM’s key aims, along with enabling its members to network, share ideas and best practises, and to “cultivate communication and understanding with regulators on the independent asset management business model, and the contribution [such IAMs] can make to a financial centre”.
“The idea of independent wealth managers is so new in Asia that until recently, few people had even heard of them, or how they work, and how independent wealth management compares with the private banking model – which in recent years has become a product distribution platform, with substantial conflict of interest issues built into the client/banker relationship,” Hui explains.
In September the organisation held its second annual general meeting, and a second annual gala dinner is set to take place in December.
During the year, other events have included seminars on such subjects as the pending US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s new Fund Management Regime and similar topics of interest to the AIAM members, according to Hui.
Like Hui, many of the founders of the AIAM’s other member companies left their jobs as bankers, she says, “with the same goal of setting up our own independent advisory services, to look after clients who generally have substantial financial assets that require independent advice”.
Rags to riches
In the years since she and Drago founded AL Wealth, Hui has become a relatively high-profile personality in Singapore wealth management circles, which is often explained in articles about her as a result of the combination of her good looks, strong personality, determination, and a rags-to-riches story that began when, at the age of 7, she marched off to get a job in a factory so she could attend school.
Now ensconced in understatedly tasteful offices in one of Singapore’s modern office towers, newest office towers, Hui describes the importance of the relationships she and her partner Drago maintain with their clients.
Like most high-end independent wealth managers and family office advisers, she says they look after a relatively small number of clients, although she declines to say precisely how many.
“When you are managing clients of this order of wealth, and they are entrusting you with a very large percentage of their total net worth, money that they have a strong emotional attachment to, they expect to have a very intense interaction with you,” she explains.
“This is very much a people business.”