Singapore Asia’s Switzerland for millionaires

SINGAPORE, June 22, 2008 (AFP) – Got at least five million US dollars?
A private banker is at your service in Singapore, which is fast gaining a reputation as the Switzerland of Asia for the world’s growing ranks of multi-millionaires. The tiny, tropical island-state, Southeast Asia’s most advanced economy, has emerged as a centre for the wealth management industry which caters to an elite breed called high net worth individuals, or HNWIs.

Banks have beefed up their wealth management services, taking up swank offices in the business district as well as recruiting and training staff in the fine art of dealing with this moneyed class.

“Typically, a client should have a financial net worth of between five to 10 million US dollars, excluding the house, car and wine collection — just money available to invest,” said Marcel Kreis, head of private banking for the Asia Pacific region at Credit Suisse, the Swiss banking giant.

Years of strong economic growth and an indomitable entrepreneurial spirit have swelled the Asia Pacific region’s list of HNWIs — defined as those with more than one million dollars in investible assets, industry players said.

An industry report by consultancy Capgemini and US investment bank Merrill