Russians lead East European wealth pack , says survey

London, Aug 2 | Updated: Aug 3 2005, 05:30am hrs
Eastern Europe has growing potential as a market for wealth management services as the number of rich in the region, particularly within Russia, is steadily expanding, a survey showed on Tuesday.

Russian multimillionaires control liquid assets worth about $300 billion to $350 billion, compared with $73 billion for the rich in Poland, $38 billion in the Czech Republic and $35 billion in Hungary, UK wealth management consultancy firm Scorpio Partnership said in a statement.

Based on the lower absolute numbers of potential clients today it is clear that most international private banks are placing a major bet on the future market potential, Scorpio consultant Ted Wilson said.

To capture these assets requires considerable early investment. We see this taking place in each of the four markets to varying degrees.

Wealth managers are targeting assets held both offshore and within Eastern Europe, but the opportunities within the onshore markets are more limited than money held abroad, Scorpio said.

The Scorpio survey consisted of 50 interviews with senior wealth management professionals in each country complemented by further information derived from economic and political data, banking information, client profiles and product details within each market.

While the number of high net worth individuals is on the increase in all four countries, the concentration is lower than in most developed economies and overall numbers are still relatively small.

In Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary the largest number of high-net worth individuals falls in the group with assets of $1 million to $5 million. Russia has substantially more rich individuals in all categories and equal amounts of individuals in these upper and lower tiers.

Wealth is owned and rests predominately in the hands of young entrepreneurial and professional nouveaux riches, residing in the major centres across the region, Scorpio managing partner Sebastian Dovey said.

They are the engine of future growth and are already showing strong signs of interest in broader wealth management solutions.

The research found that local wealth management firms within Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary are targeting lower-tier individuals, those with less than $1 million, to tap build a solid platform of clients with strong growth potential.