Are you a private banker in Singapore? With so many firms hiring in your sector, it’s good to know how your salary stacks up against other relationship managers (RMs) and how your bonus compares with what other banks are paying.
We’ve asked private banking headhunters to tell us minimum and maximum base salaries at five levels of seniority (unlike in investment banking, job titles in private banking can differ from firm to firm – some include the term “director” within ranks two to four, while others prefer “VP”). We’ve then averaged out the high and low pay points to produce the table below.
Private banking salaries in Singapore
Your formative years in private banking in Singapore won’t make you that much money. You will typically toil away as an assistant RM – a glorified support role – for no more than S$88k, with no guarantee of a promotion to associate director/AVP level (i.e. a proper private banker). “Those that can’t cut it just stay as assistants or leave the industry,” says former Merrill Lynch private banker Rahul Sen, now head of wealth management at search firm The Omerta Group in Singapore.
If you do become an AD/AVP and begin managing your own clients, your salary will more than double – expect to earn between S$120k and S$200k. Less steep, but still significant, increments occur when you reach director/VP and then executive director/SVP – at the latter level your pay can climb as high as S$350k.
In a sector which values grey hairs and established relationships, your ability to negotiate a top-range pay packet for your level increases as you move up the ranks. MDs in Singapore with the biggest client books can earn S$750k, S$350k more than their MD counterparts who manage fewer assets. “But of course the higher your salary, the higher your annual revenue targets and the more pressure you face,” says Sen.
Pay for private banks in Singapore is being driven up in 2017 mainly because demand for candidates still exceeds supply, says Liu San Li, a former Coutts private banker, now client director in private wealth management at search firm EMA Partners in Singapore. Credit Sussie, Julius Baer and Standard Chartered are tipped to be the most aggressive recruiters of RMs in Asia this year .
Liu also says RMs are becoming more reluctant to move firms this year because they think slowing economic growth in Asia and more stringent client-onboarding regimes will affect their ability to retain clients. Banks are having to increase salaries in order to convince RMs to join their ranks.
Private banking bonuses in Singapore
Your bonus percentage in private banking depends more on which bank you work for than how senior you are – although MDs are more likely to receive bonuses at the maximum level for their firm than AVPs are, and their larger salaries will ensure a higher actual bonus payment. Most private banks in Asia calculate a banker’s bonus based on a percentage of their personal annual revenue minus their base pay.
“If you made S$3m in revenue and your percentage was 12%, for example, that leaves S$360k. But your salary (say, S$260k) is then deducted, giving you a S$100k bonus,” explains Clarence Law, a Singapore-based business advisor in private banking.
Here are minimum and maximum bonus percentages across some of the main types of private banks in Singapore.
Why the variation in bonus percentages among private banks in Singapore? “UBS and Credit Suisse don’t need to attract bankers with large bonus percentages – they are huge in Asia and can offer better platforms, products and even sometimes let bankers inherent clients,” says Sen from The Omerta Group. “The Singaporean banks and boutiques like Pictet, LGT and EFG use bonuses as retention tools against the likes of UBS and CS,” he adds.
US banks such as Citi, Goldman Sachs, and J.P. Morgan used to pay as high as 40%, says Sen. “After the financial crisis they changed to a discretionary pay-out model. But they’ve had to keep bonuses high to stop people from leaving.”
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