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Competition Intensifies to Court Hamburg’s Old Money

Stephan Kahl
Competition Intensifies to Court Hamburg’s Old Money

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Hamburg’s iconic new steel-and-glass concert hall is a vivid reminder of the affluence of the city. Well-off families contributed about 70 million euros ($78 million) and now a slew of asset managers want to tap into that wealth.

Vontobel Holding AG and BNP Paribas SA are expanding in Hamburg, while other companies are opening an office there for the first time. The city has more than its fair share of millionaires and, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, at least five of the 30 richest Germans live in Hamburg -- including Michael Otto, supervisory board head of an online retail company, and eyewear magnate Guenther Fielmann.

“Why wouldn’t a wealth manager want to have a presence in one of the richest spots in Europe with a lot of ‘old’ money,” said Axel Sarnitz, a partner at consulting firm ZEB.

Another indication of Hamburg’s affluence is the fact that it has the most foundations of any German city. Many affluent families maintain close ties to these organizations, and both groups sometimes turn to asset managers for help to oversee their wealth.

“There are private-benefit foundations whose purpose is sometimes to take care of wealthy family members over generations,” said Birgit Radow, deputy secretary-general of the Association of German Foundations.

German private banks and investing firms are seeking new sources of income as they struggle to turn increases in assets under management into higher earnings. Profit margins in private banking are “very low,” ZEB said in a study late last year.

Here is a list of wealth managers expanding in Hamburg:

Frankfurter Bankgesellschaft

The private-banking subsidiary of Landesbank Hessen-Thueringen is in the process of opening an office in Hamburg and has already started serving the market. By July, it expects to have a team of 13 people working in the city, according to Chief Executive Officer Holger Mai. He called Hamburg a "very attractive market".

Vontobel Holding

The Swiss wealth manager has had a base in Hamburg for about a decade, most recently growing in wealth management there. Last year, Stella C. Streckwall joined from Oddo BHF AG, where she had advised wealthy clients in northern Germany since 2007. Hamburg is one of Vontobel’s major target markets, spokeswoman Rebeca Garcia said.

BNP Paribas

The French lender is growing its private banking and wealth management business. “We are steadily expanding our presence in Hamburg,” spokeswoman Margit Wehning said. The company employs 10 people in the city and that number is expected to rise to 14 by the end of the year.

Feri

The German asset manager opened its Hamburg office last month, its fourth in Germany. Achim Uebele, head of the office, previously advised wealthy private clients at UBS Group AG and worked at two family offices. The high number “of wealthy families with extensive advisory needs and a close-knit community of foundations culture" offer the best growth opportunities, said Ersin Soykandar, head of Feri’s private-client business in Germany.

Original Story:Hamburg lockt Wealth Manager mit Wohlhabenden und Stiftungen

(Quote added in paragraph on Frankfurter Bankgesellschaft.)

Reporter on the original story: Stephan Kahl in Frankfurt at skahl@bloomberg.net

Editors responsible for the original story: Erhard Krasny at ekrasny@bloomberg.net, Andrew Blackman

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