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Julius Baer is hiring 100 private bankers in Hong Kong and Singapore. How?

ulius Baer is hiring 100 private bankers in Hong Kong and Singapore

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Credit Suisse isn’t the only private bank looking to poach from struggling rivals as it aggressively expands in Asia – Julius Baer has now adopted a similar approach.

The firm is on course to add 100 relationship managers in Asia this year, half its global total of new recruits, CEO Boris Collardi said last week.

This would give it a 370-strong RM workforce in Asia, according to figures from Asian Private Banker. Last year’s headcount increase only amounted to 10 people.

Headhunters say 2017 recruitment will continue to be aggressive, but the bank hasn’t announced a hiring target.

“Boris Collardi is young and ambitious, and although his bank is still far smaller in Asia than UBS and CS, he is very keen to climb up the charts and continue acquiring bankers,” says former Merrill Lynch private banker Rahul Sen, now head of wealth management at search firm The Omerta Group.

But where are these new private bankers coming from given that the job market in Asian wealth management remains tight?

As we noted in June, Collardi’s old employer, Credit Suisse, has been a happy hunting ground for Julius Baer this year.

The majority of RMs are being sourced from elsewhere, however, in particular firms whose private banks are on the block or who are going through wider restructuring drives.

Barclays RMs, for example, are being tapped following the sale of their firm’s Asian wealth business to Bank of Singapore in April. BSI private bankers are an additional target as EFG completes the purchase of BSI’s Singapore operations.

Deutsche and Standard Chartered are also vulnerable to poaching raids as they cut costs globally. “At these firms there can be more of a push factor to leave,” says a Singapore-based headhunter.

“There are some private banks which aren’t doing well in Asia now and their RMs are looking for options,” adds Sean Kang, a former VP at Credit Suisse, now a director at consultancy McLagan in Singapore. “The news that JB is still expanding makes it a natural magnet to this group.”

Julius Baer isn’t relying solely on the misfortune of others to recruit.

“People often join because of its reputation as a stable Swiss bank, its good product ranges, the management’s commitment to grow in Asia, and good compensation packages because it’s actively hiring,” says Kang.

Sen adds: “It tries to do everything that UBS and CS can’t offer to their bankers – like more flexible market coverage and a flatter organisational structure.”

The Swiss bank has also beefed up its recruitment processes in Asia.

“JB has taken on strategic recruiting heads in Singapore and Hong Kong who sit with the business, not HR, and help the business make faster hiring decisions,” says a headhunter with knowledge of the bank.

Julius Baer’s clout in the Asian job market was given a major boast in 2012 when it bought Merrill Lynch’s international wealth business.

“Since then it’s become a well-known brand and more Asian clients and RMs have become receptive to it,” says Liu San Li, a former Coutts private banker, now client director in private wealth management at search firm EMA Partners in Singapore.

Liu say Julius Baer’s lack of an in-house investment banking platform can make it hard to attract RMs whose clients need access to capital markets for their businesses. Unlike UBS and Credit Suisse, for example, Julius Baer has to partner with other banks to offer these services.

Image credit: sturti, Getty

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