Supporting South Africa’s Global Families


Going Beyond Borders

Supporting South Africa’s Global Families

18 August 2021

7 minute read

South African family wealth is growing exponentially, in an increasingly globalised world where businesses and individuals can expand at pace overseas. How do ultra-high net worth (UHNW) individuals structure their wealth and investments to maximise their potential for them and their family?

According to recent data from Knight Frank1, the UHNW population will grow 27% in the next five years, with South Africa (32%) near the top of the league tables. As more South Africans rise into that UHNW bracket, it increases their need for cross-border financial and tax planning, if these individuals and their families are to realise the full potential of their new-found wealth.

While the country’s wealth creation is exciting, it sits at a juxtaposition with wider societal challenges, placing further emphasis on the need for wealth advice that is underpinned by a deep understanding of the country and its people.

We caught up with Amol Prabhu, Barclays’ Private Bank Africa Market Head and Country CEO: South Africa, to discuss some of the biggest and most frequent client issues, and how Barclays Private Bank can help navigate these complexities.

National pride and a global mindset

Whilst each client is unique, Prabhu believes there are some common traits amongst our ‘typical’ UHNW clients in South Africa. Often coming through very strongly is a sense of national pride, balanced with an international mindset and a passion of carrying the South African flag internationally by expanding their business overseas.

“They love South Africa and want to see it not only grow but thrive. However, they also want the safety net in a scenario where they can react quickly to challenging circumstances if they need to,” he explains. “So diversifying their wealth offshore becomes not only sensible financial planning but a critical pillar for many families.”

Family matters

For those clients with family, Prabhu suggests taking a step back and really thinking about their needs. “As an example, one of your children might look to study abroad, another to work abroad and you might be considering retirement - so how does this all work?” he asks. “The world is a lot smaller than it used to be and people of a certain income bracket thrive in a global population. They want that experience for their children too, and their children’s children.”

The North-South corridor between South Africa and the UK is a common route for the younger generations fanning out to gain qualifications and build careers overseas. Similarly, links with the US and other regions including Cyprus, India and the Middle East, all remain strong.

A key element underpinning the work of our Private Bank in South Africa, is the ongoing focus on family, and all the generational nuances that come with it.

In Prabhu’s opinion, “Private bankers might more accurately be described as family bankers. We often look after three generations of the same family, become family friends, immersed in our clients’ lives. I often have informal conversations on matters such as university preferences and children’s career choices. It’s all about trust and relationship building, but being backed up by the substance of having deep connections and expertise.”

Supporting business owners

Having personal and commercial interests across territories brings complexity, with valuable assets attracting a collage of different legal, compliance, tax and regulatory requirements. Families need to know their money is safe and working efficiently wherever it is and wherever they are in the world.

As Prabhu explains, “We have two main sets of clients: one is very high-end professionals, senior partners and C-suite Executives. The other are entrepreneurs and family businesses that have been very successful in South Africa and are looking to continue their growth trajectory locally and develop internationally.”

Needless-to-say, being a business owner means Personal Finance is often inextricably linked to Corporate Finance. Some clients need Corporate Banking: loans, working capital, trade finance or Investment Banking: raising finance through debt or equity offerings and strategic M&A.

Committed to South Africa

Barclays has been serving clients in Africa for over a century, bringing together the strength of more than 330 years of banking expertise, with the breadth of an international footprint to support clients across the continent. We are the only universal British bank offering international Private, Investment and Corporate Banking to South African clients.

Having been born in India, educated in the UK and Europe, before working in Hong Kong, Dubai, London and now Johannesburg, Prabhu is well-placed to understand the dynamics of South African families with global needs.

In his words, “We know the local context, country, continent, as well as having a global perspective.”

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