The expansion of international private banking business continues to be at the centre of our growth strategy. The bank that we opened in Vienna during the year under report delivers our services to the Austrian market, and also acts as an ideal gateway for intensifying the acquisition of new clients in Central and Eastern Europe.
The International Market Business Division incorporates the international private banking operations of our corporate group. Under the brands: «Liechtensteinische Landesbank» [including Liechtensteinische Landesbank (Switzerland) Ltd., Liechtensteinische Landesbank (Österreich) AG and LLB Treuhand AG], «swisspartners Investment Network AG» and «Jura Trust AG», we offer high-net-worth private clients traditional wealth management services in the following areas: investment advice, asset structuring and management as well as financial planning. We focus on the markets in Austria, Germany, Italy, Eastern Europe, as well as the Near and Middle East. We have our own business bases in Vaduz, Zurich, Lugano, Basel, Geneva, Vienna, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, on the Cayman Islands and in Hong Kong. Elfried Hasler is responsible for the International Market Business Division.
The international banking crisis and the ensuing turbulence on the stock markets caused serious setbacks for the financial services industry, and deep cuts in the real economy. At the same time, the discussions concerning bank client confidentiality and taxation policies have led to a portion of the assets deposited offshore being repatriated to the countries of origin or to other offshore centres. Consequently, traditional offshore wealth management business has come under increasing pressure.
Stock prices reached their nadir in the middle of March. During the first three months of the year, the MSCI World Index (in USD) fell by 12.5 percent. In April prices started to recover and then posted significant gains. By the end of the year, the MSCI World Index was up by 42.9 percent.
Fierce competition continues among financial service providers. The private banking market is subject to intensive consolidation pressures. In our target markets, we are primarily in competition with the Liechtenstein banks, Swiss large and private banks, as well as with other large banks active in international wealth management business.
Cross-border private banking business is undergoing a transformation process. Both the political and regulatory frameworks have changed significantly. Against the backdrop of these basic conditions, we have reviewed and fine-tuned our strategy. We are still convinced that there will continue to be a great demand for cross-border private banking services in the future. Asset protection, the protection of clients' privacy and the demand for first-class products and services will continue to be central issues. In addressing these issues, we shall expand our international business activity. In doing so, we shall concentrate on our target markets in Eastern Europe, the Near and Middle East and Austria. Furthermore, we want to increase our presence in the Asian region. In accordance with these goals, we have set the following strategic priorities:
- expansion of our advisor teams and enhancement of advisory competence;
- strengthening of our business presence in the growth markets;
- further development of product and service offerings in cross-border private banking.