GLOBAL wealth management firms are keeping an eye on the influx of wealthy Asian investors into Australia under a new visa program just as the governments of Singapore and Canada are winding down their cash-for-residency programs.
PhillipCapital, a Singapore-based financial services group, is expanding its presence in Australia partly because of the investor program, which is expected to inject $3.5 billion a year into the local economy.
The significant investor program started in November for individuals who invest $5 million or more in Australian assets for at least four years. Successful applicants do not need to pass the usual tests for skills and language.
PhillipCapital's Australian chief, Jonathan Buckley, said he expected to double the size of the group's Australian-based private wealth team to 120 advisers within 12 months. The firm's network of offices in Asia was well positioned to serve new investors, he said.
''We have the infrastructure in China, and indeed in India, that can look after the interest to reside and invest in Australia,'' he said.
PhillipCapital entered the Australian market last year through the acquisition of brokerages Intersuisse and the Austock Group.
''It is quite fortuitous that with the tightening up and closure [of investor programs] in Singapore and Canada, the UK and Australia are introducing this new scheme,'' Mr Buckley said.
The chairman of PhillipCapital, Michael Wong, who is in Australia to launch the rebranded group, said his company was experienced in tapping wealthy immigrants after benefiting from the Singaporean government's successful visa-waiver program.
Indeed he said the significant demand for the Singapore visa program ultimately let to its demise.
''The program was so successful that they raised it from $5 million to $10 million,'' he said.
''In spite of that, there was still strong interest. Then they closed it down.''
Mr Wong, who oversees PhillipCapital's operations in 16 countries, said Chinese millionaires wanted to move to places such as Singapore and Australia for education as well as safety reasons.
''They want their children to come for education [in the] English language,'' he said. ''The second reason is you want to purchase an insurance policy [for protection against political instability].''
Global fund managers such as Aberdeen Asset Management, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management and major Chinese banks in Australia are looking to attract investment from cashed-up nations.