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Eight star Singapore bankers who’ve got right to the top in Hong Kong

Singapore bankers Hong Kong

You’ve made it to vice president rank at a bank in Singapore. But you’re not satisfied – you want to make director and you want to move to a larger Asian financial centre, Hong Kong.

The stuff of dreams? Not necessarily – plenty of Singaporeans have found senior success in Hong Kong banking.

We’ve looked at online profiles of bankers who graduated in Singapore and started their careers there, but went on to find leadership-level roles in Hong Kong. Here’s a selection – maybe they’ll inspire you.

1. Chao Li, head of Greater China bond syndicate, Standard Chartered

In 2006 Li was working for a software engineering company in San Francisco having recently graduated with engineering degrees from both NUS and Harvard. But in 2008 he swapped Silicone Valley for the Singapore banking sector. Despite joining RBS just before the financial crisis, Li didn’t fall victim to ‘last in, first out’ – by 2012 he was still at RBS and had achieved a rapid promotion to director level in the bond syndicate team. In November 2012 – just four years after starting his banking career – Li was poached by Standard Chartered in Hong Kong and took on his current role.

2. Lee Boon Yong, regional head of transaction banking sales, Greater China and East Asia, MUFG

With a plethora of firms still looking to hire staff in transaction banking, Lee has a CV to make recruiters come running. She joined MUFG in 2015, after a nine-year stint as a director and MD at Standard Chartered, according to her online profile. In 2005 and 2006 she was head of global transaction services China at DBS, helping the Singaporean firm begin its big regional expansion.

3. Yao Chong Chiang, executive general manager, China CITIC Bank International

Chiang is one of the few Singaporeans in leadership positions at Chinese banks in Hong Kong. He joined CITIC in 2008 as deputy head of international banking and financial institutions in Hong Kong, before becoming the firm’s country head for Singapore. Chiang returned to Hong Kong last year to assume his current job. Prior to CITIC, the NUS economics graduate worked at Standard Chartered, Credit Suisse and UOB, according to his profile.

4. Evan Xu, director, FIG investment banking, Goldman Sachs

Xu joined Lehman Brothers in Hong Kong in July 2008, two months before the firm went bankrupt. But the move didn’t dampen his ambitions. He was retained by Nomura when it took over Lehman’s Asian operations and he performed well enough to snag a job as a financial institutions group (FIG) associate at Goldman Sachs in 2010. Xu, who has a Masters in Engineering from NUS, was promoted to executive director in 2014 and to director in December last year, according to his profile.

5. Pearlyn Phau, deputy group head of consumer banking and wealth management, DBS

Phau returned to Singapore in 2015 – but working in Hong Kong, where she led the local consumer banking and private banking businesses, helped establish her as a major player in Asian banking. Phau was already a senior DBS employee when she moved to Hong Kong in 2012 – she joined the firm in 2003 and headed its investment bank. She’s now come back to Singapore on the back of a promotion to deputy group head of consumer banking and wealth management, helping to lead the firm’s growth in private banking following the takeovers of Societe Generale’s and ANZ’s Asian wealth units in 2014 and 2016 respectively.

6. John Chua, regional head, traded risk control, HSBC

Risk skills and regional expertise are in strong demand in Asia – Chua has them both in bundles. He relocated to Hong Kong in 2013 and like Lee came from Standard Chartered, where he held several senior positions in Singapore and London, including global head of credit control and reporting. Chua didn’t start his risk career at a bank, however. As a graduate in 1999 he joined Singapore’s stock exchange and worked there for almost five years in derivative risk management, according to his profile.

7. Su Ee Than, head of global investment banking for Greater China, OCBC

Than has benefited from the recent expansion of Singaporean banks across Asia and the wider range of regional roles this has created. He joined OCBC in Singapore in 2003 and four years later moved to Shanghai to head the private equity and special opportunities group for China. After a senior stint back in Singapore, he moved to Hong Kong in 2015 where he now leads a 20-strong team of bankers covering loan syndication, fixed income, private equity, equity capital markets, and mergers and acquisitions.

8. Yong Wah Tan, CIO, Hong Kong Monetary Authority

Tan is a (very) loyal employee. After taking a graduate job at DBS, he joined Banking Computer Services, a Singapore-based clearing and payments company, in 1983 and stayed there until 1995, eventually becoming general manager. He then moved to the HKMA and has been there ever since. Tan’s first three years were spent as a technical advisor and he was then promoted to his current job of chief information officer, according to his public profile.


Image credit: phaitoons, Getty

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