☰ Menu eFinancialCareers

Private banks want you – but not if you’re inexperienced

Singapore is crying out for private banking talent. But how easy is it to get into the industry if you’re not a private banker already?

According to recruiters, not very easy at all. Matthew Hoyle, Asia-Pacific director at search firm Matthew Hoyle International, says it’s “very unusual” for someone with no industry experience to get hired as a private banker (relationship manager – RM – or client advisor – CA) immediately: “Traditionally, most people with zero experience start as an assistant RM or assistant CA.” He adds that, as assistant private bankers, they do have some client contact, but don’t originate clients or handle important decisions.

Candidates for true private banker roles need have either existing clients that will move with them or a proven track record of attracting new business, says Hoyle, with the latter being the most important. He cautions that, in order to successfully transfer clients, an RM should spend at least five years or more with each firm.

In higher-end roles with managerial responsibilities, such as desk head, you will see candidates moving over from investment banking, Hoyle says.

But banks could become more open to hiring inexperienced people in the future. One Singapore-based recruitment manager at an international investment bank says HR departments are trying to drive home the message that, because of chronic shortages in the city-state, banks should be more open to hiring people without private banking experience. He says young entrepreneurs who already have good business contacts are a potentially good talent pool.

Comments (16)

  1. question is…shouldn’t more emphasis be put on the skills of managing the money of the clients instead of only getting more business? getting more clients is important but more important is to be able to do the job well…

  2. I am a ACCA student who have been working in the accounting field for the past 4 years. I have worked for 3 different sectors in which I did not have previous experience in, butI have managed to excel in my work.

    Although hiring experienced staff in the banking sector may appear to be a good idea,as it help to reduce the cost of training. I think the best would be even to hire inexperienced people who have he potential to excel and train them according to the bank’s requirements.

    It is also important to note that some people may have spent several years in the sector but their perfomance will still remain questionable.

    Qubekani Ncube Reply
  3. Most RM require lots of support from the product specialists, investment advisors or brokers….pvt banks should explore the and expose them to relationship mgmt, they are the ones who knows the investment vehicles; all they need is the connection…

  4. I guess a qualified private banker should be equipped with the both, knowledge in managing assets of his clients coupled with good marketing skills to attract,win and retain his customers. There must definitely in a balance in both areas to excel.

  5. Most, or ALL, of the banks & financial institutions openly say to media that they have an open approach to recruitment, they dont just look at people within industry with related years of experience and ready clients. But reality is far from what they preached. So, it’s only a marketing and PR gimmick to project themselves as being different from the rest, when in actual fact they are all the same and have never changed despite lamenting that there are not enough manpower.

    So they continue with their merry-go-round of poaching competitor’s staffs, paying them huge salary with the naive thinking that today’s clients are stupid enough to simply drop all their portfolios with existing bank to follow their private bankers everywhere. These poached staffs will then wait till the next better offer from another competitor before moving on.

    So the companies waste time, huge amounts of money, and critical resources by playing this game of poaching while the real winners are the ones being poached having their salaries increase by leaps n bounds within short time frame without really adding any value to company, industry, and lastly clients. Companies live up to their words – COME CLEAN!

  6. Well , Banks will have their discretionary measures to hire people based on skillset and expertise .I do hope the bank will give more chances for person not having the necessary qualification to make the mark in their life

  7. I am a Diploma holder currently with an IFA.I had been trying to break through to be an RM but to no avail. My track record is modest as I am only 2 years in this business of investments. I have certificates like M5, M8, M9 and HI. However, it seems to be insufficient.

    I believe a lot of people want to be in this line. However, they are not given an opportunity to do so. If banks were open to people with no or minimum experience, they would not be so short handed.

    Furthermore,as per the previous comment, some people might become less productive after spending several years in the industry thus the need to inject new,vibrant young guns who believes that they can make it.

    A raw gem and a polished diamond is of different calibre. So it is still up to the banks to decide.


  8. Private banking (Private Bankers/RM) are just another trend in the financial industry, just like Remisiers & Day Traders in the hey days of 80/90s.
    Pte Banking has been marketed & branded to serve a selected group of clients. But…basically there are just salesman selling unit trust, insurance, estate plan like any others financial sales.

    End of the day, as you’ve read, its Not about doing a good job but all about getting new business and churning others money with potential lawsuit to follow.
    Why follow the trend?

    Most people follow the trend just dive with the trend, except some early entry smarties. Are You one of them?

    Just look at the trend of being Remisiers, Day Traders, IT Startups, MLMs, Insurance Agents…

  9. Hi Simpson,

    I cannot agree more with you. I am in this line and the top performers, unfortunately, are more often than not, the churners. Pte banking being a trend, I dont know when it will die down but when the markets turn, only the strong survive.

  10. Its always good to understand the interest of the person for the role, though he is having experience or not in the particular area, it would be easy to mould some one with passion and interest towards work. So i dont forsee any problem in hiring person who does not have experience for the specific role.

  11. Some of the RMs are from completely different backgrd…SYTs preferred.

    Thomas, Finance Manager Reply
  12. After seeing some of the comments by you guys. It has given me a bit of hope to not give up. Been in sales for 5 years but not in the banking sector. After honing my sales, communication and people skills, I realised that my interest is in the banking industry. I do not mind starting from ground zero again. But the only issue is whether the banks out there are willing to give such opportunities to talents who are keen learners in other fields. I have just sent out some applications to the banks and keeping my fingers crossed..

  13. I’m considering putting my money in a discretionary portfolio management with UBS and advisory portolio with credit suisse. I’ve liased with them and is now making the final decision. However, I would like to know whether it is sane to do this portfolios or would I be better off managing the money myself since I’m an MBA and able to understand all these industry jargon.

  14. Being in the business, so far i’ve seen top performers and the mediocre ones among CAs, the latter sadly in the majority. Must say that the bottom line for most CAs is meeting their ‘new money’/AUM requirements (how well your investments are doing surely matters in the long term, but the short-term goal for most CAs is building their books and not your profit). At the end of the day the critical difference is the skill of an individual CA you are dealing with. Beware of hard-sell and high portfolio management costs.

    Ollie, Private Banking Reply
  15. Have you found out what you need to be a successful private banker? Have you thought of how to run successful business?

  16. I believe you are refering to business cycle and not trend. One of the oldest trade in the world is Private Banking business whereby some remains relatively small to provide exclusivity and privacy to client. Helping clients to transfer wealth from one generation to another is just one of the private banks will do but not brokers, remisiers will do………….you have yet to see a true blue private bankers.

The comment is under moderation. It will appear shortly.


Screen Name


Consult our community guidelines here