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Morning Coffee: Are Asian bankers more aggressive and ambitious than European ones? Yes, says UBP boss

Are Asian bankers more aggressive and ambitious than European ones? UBP boss says yes

Asia vs Europe?

When European private banking bigwigs visit Asia they typically moan about talent shortages rather than praise the quality of relationship managers (RMs) already plying their trade in the region.

But Guy de Picciotto, chief executive of Union Bancaire Privee – which is expanding its Asian presence after acquiring Coutts International in March – has used an interview with the Straits Times to point out what’s good about RMs in Singapore and Hong Kong. He believes that bankers in the two Asian financial hubs are much more active and dynamic than those in Europe.

“People here are more ambitious. In Switzerland, the banking secrecy has been around for many years and this banking model has created a more comfortable environment for bankers there,” de Picciotto told the Straits Times. “Having relied on banking secrecy, Swiss bankers are certainly less aggressive in their commercial approach.”

While de Picciotto has obvious reason for sweet-talking Asian private bankers – he wants to hire more of them and UBP is a relative minnow as an employer in the region – his words also ring true. Newly-wealthy business owners, rather than old-money families, make up a large proportion of banks’ client base in Asia and bankers need to be similarly entrepreneurial as a result. Led by UBS and Credit Suisse, private banks in Asia have pioneered the cross-selling of investment-banking services to entrepreneurial private clients, for example.

Tightening profit margins caused by rising compliance and compensation costs in Asia also mean that many private bankers feel they need to “aggressively” grow their assets in order to meet revenue targets, says Rahul Sen, head of wealth management at search firm The Omerta Group in Singapore


The brokers left stranded as China’s IPO party suddenly ends. (Bloomberg)

Shrinking China trade likely to dent profits of Singapore and Hong Kong banks (Business Times)

Beijing throwing everything at stock market because that’s easier than tackling “triple bubble”. (South China Morning Post)

Hong Kong losing its work-ethic edge over Singapore. (Straits Times)

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