JPMorgan taps Germany’s growing appetite for investment advice

JPMorgan is seeing growth in its private banking business in Germany. (Bloomberg pic)

FRANKFURT: JPMorgan Chase & Co is hoping to grab a larger slice of Germany’s private-banking market as wealthy individuals increasingly turn to international companies for advice.

Traditionally, rich Germans have often maintained loyal relationships with one local lender and one from Switzerland, according to Hakan Straengh, who runs JPMorgan’s private-banking business in Germany from Frankfurt.

However, the company is seeing a “growing willingness to add a third pillar, and it’s often one from the Anglo-Saxon world,” Straengh said in an interview.

This tends to happen when clients increase their liquid assets by selling a business or inheriting money, according to JPMorgan.

At the same time, many of JPMorgan’s German clients are investing more internationally, “out of the DAX and bunds and into the US and emerging markets,” Straengh said.

This doesn’t stem from a desire to aggressively increase assets, he added. “It’s more about maintaining wealth after taxes, inflation and fees.”

To tap into that growth, JPMorgan is looking to hire more private-banking staff in Germany after adding three advisers and one portfolio manager last year.

The focus will be on women because all current advisers are male, Straengh said. Total headcount currently stands at 21.

More millionaires

“Germany has been one of the most important private banking markets for JPMorgan in Europe for about four years, measured by the growth in assets under management,” Straenghsaid. He declined to comment on the total amount.

Straengh, who joined the US lender 10 years ago from Goldman Sachs Group, mainly targets wealthy families with liquid assets of at least €100 million (US$111 million).

The number of dollar millionaires in Germany is expected to climb to 3.08 million in 2023 from 2.18 million in 2018, according to a study by Credit Suisse Group AG, The estimated growth rate of 41% is significantly higher than the UK (30%), and is also expected to beat Switzerland (36%).

Turning these good prospects for private banking into more business might be challenging.

Many other foreign banks have also pushed into Germany recently, including BNP Paribas SA and HSBC Holdings Plc, depressing margins.

“Private banking is a very competitive market,” Straengh said.