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Swiss institute eyes China's wealth management education

By Wang Zhenghua in Shanghai Updated: 2019-04-12
Felix Horlacher, IfFP's CEO, talks to a journalist via an interpreter on April 11. [Photo by Wang Zhenghua/]

IfFP China, the nation's first foreign-funded financial education institution, said that it will continue to share its traditions and experience of Swiss private banking with its Chinese counterparts as it looks to tap into the potential of China's wealth management industry.

Founded in September at the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, IfFP China is a branch of Zurich-based IfFP Institute for Financial Planning.

"Needless to say, China's wealth management industry is booming at a very high growth rate,"Felix Horlacher, IfFP's CEO, said during an interview at the company's Shanghai office.

According to the company, China was ranked second in terms of residents' total assets, which stood at $24 trillion in 2017. The United States was the leader with assetsworth $68 trillion.

In the coming decade, the combined personal asset in China is expected to increase to more than $70 trillion. China also has more than 5 million high net-worth households, which means these families have at least 1 million yuan ($160,000) to be used as investments every year.

In the meantime, financial advisors who can provide a holistic suite of services are in short supply as banks and other financial institutions are usually focused on selling wealth management products instead of teaching the knowhow to their clients.

As such, there is a huge need for a qualified labor force which canprovide valuable advice to their financial clients in China, said Horlacher.

The veteran banker also said that the institute will help young people enter the financial industry, assist financial companies to build sustainable client relationships, and provide advanced professional education for financial clients and consumers.

"What makes us unique and attractive, which is essentially the same as in Switzerland, is that we are practice-oriented. We may not be so strong in theoretical concept but we will be very strong in day-to-day practice," Horlacher said.

He also pointed out that the knowhow they brought from Switzerland to China must be localized because of the different rules and regulations, financial products and client behaviors.