North Africa’s private banking networks are expanding in line with the region’s development.
He says that 10 years ago, neither group was focused enough to target this market, but both have since become more determined in their operations and are increasingly able to offer high-quality and complex products close to the family-office model.
This includes funds of private equity funds, real estate and infrastructure funds, as well as structured products and more esoteric strategies such as art funds.
To tap into private banking opportunities successfully, local and foreign-owned banks are now recruiting senior figures from the asset management field.
Recruitment is a challenging issue, L’Honneur adds, because foreign professionals lack the necessary local know-how to approach high-net-worth individuals in the region, such as a rich Moroccan farmer living far from the corporate hubbub in Casablanca.
Language can also be a problem, he says. However, there are few home-grown asset management professionals because of limited educational opportunities.
There are also competitive differences between the French players.
BNP Paribas has begun developing separate wealth management operations from its retail banking network to address north Africa’s high-net-worth clients.
In early 2010, BNP Paribas launched BMCI-BNP Paribas Banque Privée with its Moroccan subsidiary BMCI.
This new structure is fully dedicated to private banking and is aligned with, but separate from, BNPP’s retail banking operations.
According to Marie-Claire Capobianco, head of domestic markets for BNP Paribas Wealth Management, the private banking market in Morocco was “embryonic” before 2010 and focused essentially on advising clients how to invest in the stock exchange.
Capobianco says that BNP Paribas Wealth Management “progressively noticed an evolution in client demand seeking more personalised wealth management advice, and developed higher expectations in terms of expertise and quality of services”.
She attributes this change to several factors. One is the impact of the financial crisis, which made clients more aware than ever of the risks of pure equity investing.
The growing sophistication of financial products in the region has prompted the need for professional advice and expertise, she says.
Moroccans are also increasingly willing to separate private from professional wealth, and they have expressed growing concern about legacy and the durability of wealth, Capobianco notes.
To address these needs BMCI-BNP Paribas Banque Privée’s business model involves tailoring services to clients’ requirements by spending several hours discussing preferences with them.