Vontobel to open new Miami office in U.S. wealth push

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Swiss bank Vontobel CEO Zeno Staub addresses a news conference in Zurich

By Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi and Oliver Hirt

ZURICH – Swiss wealth and asset manager Vontobel plans to open a new wealth management office in Miami as it looks to grab a greater share of the North American market, its chief executive told Reuters.

“Within the U.S., there is a migration of wealth from the North to the South,” Chief Executive Zeno Staub said in an interview. “More and more local wealth is going to Florida. We therefore plan to establish a presence in Miami in the coming months.”

The Zurich-based lender, which manages just under 300 billion Swiss francs ($326 billion) for private and institutional investors, is looking to expand in the United States, while also breaking into new markets and using digitalisation to offer its funds to a broader client pool, he said.

Vontobel now manages roughly 4 billion Swiss francs for wealthy U.S. clients in accounts in Zurich and Geneva, as well as through its office in New York.

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In Miami, it plans to employ client advisers while booking wealthy individuals’ money out of Switzerland, as it does for clients in its New York office.

Within asset management, banks such as Citi, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and Santander count amongst its key customers.

It is extending its products and funds offering in the United States accordingly, Staub said.

“We’ve made substantial investments in order to be able to provide a broader product range in the United States,” he said. “And we have the ambition to move the needle there in the next few years.”

Vontobel does not see the need to grow the size of its business through M&A, he said.

“Our appetite to make acquisitions just for the sake of increasing volumes is even lower now than it was in the past,” Staub said, adding the bank would be open to deals in asset management that provide new capabilities.

“In wealth management, we are more interested in access to markets than in pure volume,” he said.

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($1 = 0.9189 Swiss francs)

(Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi and Oliver Hirt; editing by David Evans)