Eike Batista, one-time richest man in Brazil, is not the only former billionaire in the developing world.
His spectacular rise to outrageous fortune has been followed by an even more spectacular collapse into personal bankruptcy. Mr Batista was undone when his oil company failed to find any of the black stuff, sparking a cash crunch across his network of companies.
But the wider slowdown in Brazil’s economy also hurt him, as it has hundreds of others in the ultra-wealthy bracket – generally defined as people with net assets of at least $30m.
It might seem unnecessarily elitist to focus only on the waxing and waning wealth of a global group of just 199,235 people, but this is exactly where the world’s private banks put their efforts. Individuals with just $5m or $10m do not have enough cash to play with to cover the costs of the highest level of private service.
Brazil was one of less than a dozen countries that saw the number of its super-rich decline this year, according to an annual report by Wealth-X and UBS. More than 600 people dropped out of this league in Brazil, as the total assets of this group fell almost $100bn from 2012 to $770bn.
China, the next biggest loser, lost almost 600 multimillionaires and the group’s total assets fell by $65bn to $1.5tn. The other two Bric nations, Russia and India, registered a small rise in ultra-rich numbers and wealth.
All the other countries that saw their ultra-wealthy populations shrink were also emerging markets, apart from Canada and Finland.
Chile, Colombia, Kazakhstan, Peru, South Africa, Syria and Tunisia all lost members of their super wealthy clubs, according to Wealth-X.
Developed countries by contrast did rather well. Germany saw more than 2,000 people join or re-enter this league, while Europe as a whole added almost 5,000 and the US gained more than that. These two blocs between them added $1.5tn in assets this year – as much as all Chinese super-rich hold. The total wealth of the US and European ultra rich is a staggering $16.76tn, out of a global total of $27.77tn.
Recovery in equity markets and other asset prices because of the flood of central bank money is behind most of this growth in wealth rather than fresh entrepreneurial success or economic growth.
For private banks, however, the emerging markets still merit close attention. Bassam Salem, chief executive of Citi’s private bank in Asia, says the emerging markets of the Middle East, Latin America and Asia make up roughly half the global private banking business and will pull ahead of the developed world. “The emerging economies are slowing, but they are still producing better growth than the developed world,” he says.
Wealth among the rich in emerging markets has grown with great rapidity in recent years, even if it is stuttering slightly now. The Middle East has continued to boom, adding more than 700 to its super-rich population and $170bn in assets.
However, it is often harder than people expect to make money out of the wealthy in emerging markets, Mr Salem reckons, because much of their wealth is often tied up in their businesses, while the costs of running a private bank in terms of property, people and regulatory compliance are high and increasing.
Staff – especially the vital relationship managers – can be very expensive in Asia and other emerging markets, because they are in very short supply. Barend Janssens, head of emerging markets at RBC Wealth Management, says the talent shortage is a big inhibitor to private banks.
“Good private bankers who speak local languages and understand local customs are highly sought after, and with demand for their skills higher than supply, costs are going up,” he says. “The industry needs to find a way to groom talent in sufficient numbers to keep up with high client demand.”
The demand is there and should keep growing – in spite of this year’s hiccups. Roland Berger, the strategy consultancy, predicts that global bankable assets will grow to almost ￠40tn by 2017, from ￠29tn at the end of 2012. The fastest growth, it predicts, will come from Asia-Pacific, which it forecasts will see assets increase by 10 per cent annually to reach about ￠14tn by 2017.
UBS for one still sees Asia as the most promising market in the years ahead. Kathryn Shih, head of UBS Wealth Management Asia Pacific, says it will see the fastest growth out of all the emerging markets.
“Asia-Pacific has been growing faster than other emerging markets because it has had more political stability, which promotes economic stability,” she says.
然而，对于私人银行而言，新兴市场仍值得密切关注。花旗私人银行(Citi Private Bank)亚洲首席执行官巴萨姆?塞勒姆(Bassam Salem)表示，中东、拉美和亚洲的新兴市场约占全球私人银行业务的一半，并将赶超发达国家。他表示：“新兴市场经济现在正在放缓，但它们的增速仍快于发达国家。”
在亚洲和其他新兴市场，员工——尤其是重要的客户关系经理——成本非常高，因为供应非常短缺。加拿大皇家银行财富管理(RBC Wealth Management)新兴市场主管百仁?詹森(Barend Janssens)表示，人才短缺是阻碍私人银行发展的一个重要因素。
例如，瑞银仍将亚洲视为未来几年最具潜力的市场。瑞银财富管理公司(UBS Wealth Management)亚太区主管施许怡敏(Kathryn Shih)表示，该公司认为增长最快的地区都将来自新兴市场。