Company Profiles

REYL's New Digital Arm Stakes Out Big Ambitions

Tom Burroughes Group Editor London 9 March 2021

REYL's New Digital Arm Stakes Out Big Ambitions

The business called Alpian - part of the Geneva-based REYL Group - sees a gap in the market in the mass-affluent and parts of the HNW banking space in Switzerland.

The chief executive of Alpian – part of Switzerland’s REYL Group – says that many affluent and high net worth individuals who have been using retail banking find the switch to a top-level offering a big and costly jolt. Alpian's offering is designed to be a more natural progression for such clients. 

In May last year Alpian was launched, targeting the SFr660 billion ($705.8 billion) Swiss mass-affluent client segment. Target clients will typically have investable assets ranging from SFr100,000 ($109,190) to SFr1.0 million, a field covering more than 2.6 million people in the jurisdiction. 

“We’re always trying to elevate services and give people more…we ask mass-affluent people what bank they are in and some of them are using the same one as when they were five years old!”  Schuyler Weiss, Alpian CEO, told this news service. “What’s happened is that people have got so accustomed to what a bank does that they have overlooked what it can or should be doing for them.”

Alpian aims to fill this space, harnessing the kind of digital tools that continue to spread in the wealth management and banking world in Switzerland and abroad. In all too many cases, Weiss said, private banks have shed clients they don’t think are profitable to serve and there are not enough providers seeking to capture these stranded or underserved clients. An opportunity is being missed, he said. 

“We see banks raising their minimums [AuM] and downgrading to another service. We, however, are always thinking `What more can we do?’” Weiss said. 

Weiss does not have a standard private bank background, having worked at IBM as a consultant – which got him involved with Morgan Stanley as a big client at the time of the US firm’s purchase of the Smith Barney business. He worked at Morgan Stanley for several years in IT and crisis management roles – useful training for life in a pandemic. A dual US-Swiss citizen, Weiss also carved out time to complete an MBA in Lausanne. He joined REYL, and that firm’s desire to build a digital offering ended up with Weiss heading the Alpian operation, which was formed in 2019. 

“What we are trying to do is to partner with a client and change their mindset of how they view the bank,” Weiss said in a call from his base in Geneva.

Alpian will deliver normal banking services and connect clients to advisors hired by the firm. Services will cover discretionary, advisory and execution-only channels; REYL is engaged to handle specific investments. Some of the service channels require a minimum, such as SFr30,000 of investments at the discretionary area.

Information is collected so that Alpian can provide a personalised experience for clients. “No two clients should be invested in the same way,” Weiss said. 

The business aims to go live in the first half of 2021, although no firm date has been set; the business is going through a regulatory approval process. 

The past year has been busy for REYL. Last October, Fideuram - Intesa Sanpaolo Private Banking, part of Milan-based Intesa Sanpaolo group - agreed to buy more than two-thirds (69 per cent) of REYL. ISP PB will be merged with REYL, creating a private bank holding more than SFr18 billion ($19.7 billion) of assets under management and almost 400 staff. Besides Switzerland, the bank will be present in the European Union, Latin America, the Middle East and Far East. Financial terms were not disclosed.

REYL launched a new brand campaign in Switzerland last summer.

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