Former Credit Suisse, HSBC bankers target ultrarich with new bank

Two senior bankers at Credit Suisse and HSBC, Hayden Matthews and Glenn White, are establishing a new private bank targeting ultrarich families in Australia and Asia amid a boom in wealth management services.

Mr Matthews, the former chief executive of HSBC’s private bank in Australia will be the chief executive, while Mr White will be managing partner. Mr White was a director at Credit Suisse, which is in the process of merging with UBS after the two banks came together in a shotgun wedding in 2023.

Volans is to open its doors in May this year. It already has 17 employees on its books, an office in the Sydney CBD, and is in the process of applying for a banking license through the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority.

“We think wealthy Australians are tired of the merry-go-round of international private banks that come in and out of Australia every five years or simply fly in and out from Singapore each week. Similarly, we think the wealthy deserve more than the red-carpet retail banking that the Australian banks throw up as a perceived premium product,” Mr White said.

Australia is no stranger to banking start-ups. Barrenjoey Capital Partners launched in September 2021, with the backing of Magellan Financial and British bank Barclays. Volans also has two banking partners, but declined to reveal the identity of the institutions.

The start-up comes amid a rush into wealth management, and as investment banks take a renewed interest in the local market. LGT Crestone, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and HSBC have advanced their efforts to cater to Australia’s wealthiest families over the past year.

While the cost-of-living crisis continues to plague the majority of Australians, the wealthiest among us are getting richer, with the 350 largest family offices in Australia estimated to manage between $515 billion and $695 billion of wealth outside their operating businesses.

Mr Matthews and Mr White said Volans aimed to serve family offices and wealth managers, rather than individual clients. “There are great wealth managers in Australia already. We don’t see any value in trying to compete head-to-head with them in Australia like other banks do,” said Mr Matthews. Glide, Mr Matthews’ multifamily office which counts wealthy mining services entrepreneur Kevin Maloney as a client, is an early client of Volans.

The bank will offer Lombard and margin lending, multicurrency account management and multi-asset custody, access to global investment opportunities as well as tech-driven research and risk analysis. Lending is a key earnings driver for private banks as the rich often lend against some of their larger assets, such as their house or shareholdings, to release capital for re-investment elsewhere.

“We will ensure our Lombard lending product is the most competitive in the street but also the most flexible. [Unlike most private banks] we don’t force customers … to reinvest or buy a branded product. We believe customers should be free to choose when, how or what they invest in,” said Mr White.

Mr Matthews and Mr White are also betting they can gain clients from being lighter on their feet and more tech-savvy than their competitors, describing other private banks as “lethargic”, and bogged down in “cumbersome bureaucracy”.

Mr White said they were vowing to open accounts within a day or two with the use of facial recognition, and offer technology platforms that integrate with the systems that wealth managers already use. “Most private banks take anywhere between six to eight weeks to open an account,” he said.

Vanessa Stephens, a former HSBC banker, is also on board the new venture.

Credit Suisse’s Australian business was long the leader in private banking, counting a significant number of The Australian Financial Review Rich List as clients.

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