Amid a mixed set of results for Standard Chartered, it was a strong first half for those working in wealth management.
Wealth management income was up 23% year-on-year in H1 to $1,200m, the highest level since the firm started disclosing operating income by product on a quarterly basis in 2014. 16% of group income came from wealth, up four percentage points.
Within wealth, there was a “particularly strong sales performance in FX, equities and structured notes with our digital investments supporting strong net new sales and assets under management growth”, Stan Chart CFO Andy Halford said in the bank’s earnings results. “Bancassurance income, which year-to-date is just under a quarter of total wealth management income, was 12% higher reflecting earlier recognition of an annual bancassurance bonus,” he added.
Stan Chart’s earnings presentation brought good news for its Hong Kong-based wealth staff. The firm is now “well positioned” for the Wealth Management Connect pilot scheme, which links Hong Kong to clients in other parts of southern China’s Greater Bay Area.
SCB’s focus on the Asian wealth market pits it against rival HSBC, which yesterday announced it had hired 600 client-facing staff in the region in H1, mainly in mainland China, 100 more than planned. HSBC’s wealth revenues in Asia increased by 26% compared with H1 last year.
Not everyone at Stan Chart enjoyed the first half. The record performance in wealth management was more than offset by lower trading income in financial markets and lower realisation gains in treasury. Income across the group was down 5% year-on-year for H1, thanks to low interest rates, which the bank said it hopes are bottoming out, and declining revenue from cash management. Transaction banking trade income, however, was up 16%, its strongest half-yearly performance since 2018.
Staff costs increased 13% as SCB, like most large banks, boosted bonuses to try and retain key staff.
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