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PANAMA - Finance

Sergi Lucas

CEO, Singular Wealth Management, Corp.

Bio

Sergi Lucas Fernández is a prominent banker and wealth advisor boasting more than two decades of experience in serving high-net-worth individuals and families. He has held executive positions in various financial institutions and currently holds the position of President at the Panamanian Chamber of Capital Markets (CAPAMEC). Sergi plays a crucial role in advancing and strengthening financial markets, contributing significantly to the industry’s growth and development.

"This is a moment when fixed income offers attractive rates, and everyone knows it will eventually decline. We should consider taking positions in instruments with appealing, high-quality, long-term yields."
TBY talks to Sergi Lucas, CEO of Singular Wealth Management, Corp., about attracting investment from Europe, the firm’s client offering, and adapting to a changing market.
What factors make Panama an attractive hub for European capital seeking profitability in Latin America?

Singular Securities was established eight years ago after it acquired a broker’s license. Since then, we have been building up a company focused on the classic wealth management that is well-known in Europe from Swiss banks but adapted to the Central American market. The company has been growing steadily, with more than USD600 million in assets under management currently, The team offers a comprehensive 360-degree view that encompasses every aspect of our wealth management services. We have two brokerage firms, an investment funds structure, a multi-family office and a corporate services company. Thus far, we have consolidated our business model locally. Even though we have clients in the region, Singular Wealth Management has not expanded beyond Panama except to assist individual clients; however, we are currently considering acquiring a company in Central America, where our experience and added value can make a difference to potential clients there. There are many valuable opportunities in Central America, which makes it an interesting market for us compared to Europe. In the coming years, we expect to see a major flow of capital toward Latin America based on the opportunities here. Panama will soon become the hub for that capital and the stock market. Panama possesses numerous advantages; however, there is ample room for improvement in effectively communicating these advantages to the international community. Panama has political stability, a growing economy, and excellent connectivity. 2024 will be an interesting year for Panama. There will be elections, though based on the country’s economic data, we expect it to continue to grow. Panama is the place to be.

What benefits does Singular Wealth Management offer its clients?

We provide independent wealth management services to our clients, free from reliance on any particular bank or institution. We can develop a tailor-made service for each client depending on their investment portfolio. Our distinct advantage lies in our global network of top-tier counterparts, enabling us to provide our clients with the utmost level of security for their assets. We have a brilliant investment management team and an external CEO who adds significant value to our vision. We offer personalized service for our clients. It’s not just about opening an account—there is also personal management involved. We assess the client’s risk profile based on their needs. Profitability is proportional to the risk profile, though in the hands of experts like Singular Wealth Management, investors can reduce the risk in their portfolio. In the end, we are trying to make financial investments real. We also go deeper by structuring them based on the client. We know the guarantees, the structure of the strategies, the cash flow, and the management of the company. All these give our clients greater confidence, therefore mitigating the risk.

How does Singular Securities navigate changing interest rates for clients?

We are not a bank—we are a brokerage firm. The problem that banks face with interest rates is complex because when they increase, it makes financing more difficult, ultimately affecting the client. Right now, we invite clients to make long-term rates. In the past, clients with USD1 million would typically opt for a one-year fixed term. However, our current recommendation is a five-year term, as we can secure a favorable rate for that duration. These are the types of financial management services where we excel – offering insights into economic and market trends and implementing timely actions.

What are the tools you recommend the most?

Currently, given the interest rate and economic situation, fixed income is a tool that should be present in 40-50% of our portfolios and clients. This is a moment when fixed income offers attractive rates, and everyone knows it will eventually decline. We should consider taking positions in instruments with appealing, high-quality, long-term yields. Investment funds and ETFs (Exchange-Traded Funds) are excellent tools for wealth management. There is less stock picking now because it is tough for someone to successfully pick specific stocks. If we expect the gold sector to be successful in the coming months, we could buy an investment fund that invests in 500 companies related to the gold sector. Ultimately, we are betting on the gold sector but in a diversified manner. The number of stocks in a portfolio depends on its size, but it’s advisable not to allocate more than 2.5-3% to a single position. For instance, investing USD25,000 in Apple stock is riskier for an investor compared to allocating $250,000 into a technology fund that spans investments across 500 technology companies. Likewise, investors who hold a positive outlook on China but are uncertain about which specific sector to invest in can explore country-specific funds. There are now numerous investment funds created by specialists in this area, and these are the ones we should consider.

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