Citigroup’s Asia family office clients poised to grow 25% in 2023

By Xie Yu

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Citigroup’s Asia family office business expects a 25% increase in clients this year, the U.S. bank’s regional head of its family office advisory business said, as Singapore and Hong Kong vie to attract more wealth.

The momentum builds off a strong 2022 when the bank saw client numbers increase by around 50% year-on-year in Asia from a modest base in the preceding year, Faye Ong told Reuters in an interview.

Global banks have been beefing up family office arms in Asia, as demand continues to surge among rich Asians wanting to set up private investment vehicles and plan for business succession.

Citi in 2020 turned its Asia family office service into a full-fledged unit combining advisory, family governance, legacy planning, philanthropy, investment and deal-making capabilities for ultra-wealthy clients.

Ong joined the team in 2021 alongside a string of senior and mid-level hires.

“We have seen great interest from China, Hong Kong, the Philippines, India, and Indonesia in settling their family offices here (Hong Kong),” Ong said, adding there was also growing interest from Middle Eastern clients.

Hong Kong in March announced a series of measures to attract family offices to set up in the financial hub as authorities attempt to restore business confidence and investor allure after three years of severe COVID-19 rules.

Hundreds of discussions are taking place with existing and new clients, Faye said, adding some customers, who already have a presence in Hong Kong, are considering the registration of formal family office vehicles in the city.

Other markets within Asia are also growing well, Ong said.

The central bank in Singapore, Hong Kong’s rival Asian wealth hub, in July revised its tax regime for family offices, to boost the local job and equity markets, as well as incentivising green investment.

“The landscape in Singapore is evolving. There is scale and Singapore is becoming more discerning about the type of family offices it wants to attract,” Ong said.

The number of single-family offices in Singapore grew to 1,100 at the end of last year from 400 in 2020, according to data from its central bank.

The increase in the number of affluent and high net-worth investors in Asia has eclipsed that of peers in other regions, and that growth is likely to continue through 2026 and beyond, according to an Accenture report released last week.

(Reporting by Xie Yu; Editing by Sumeet Chatterjee and Jamie Freed)