As private banks in Hong Kong – most notably HSBC and UBS – continue to increase their headcounts, it’s increasingly important for relationship managers to know how their compensation compares to the market average.
If you’re wondering whether your current private banking salary in Hong Kong is above or below par, we've averaged out minimum and maximum base salary data from several recruitment firms to produce the table below. And we’ve done this across five broad levels of seniority (job titles in private banking differ from firm to firm – some include the term “director” within ranks two to four, while others prefer “VP”). There’s also a table for bonuses at the bottom of this article.
There have been “continuous increases” in RM salaries in 2018, especially in the ultra-high-net-worth segment, driven by competition for talent in a tight job market, says Jack Metters, a principal consultant in private banking and wealth management at Selby Jennings in Hong Kong. “Private banks are often willing to offer golden handshakes,” he adds.
The average pay rise for RMs moving between banks in Hong Kong is between 15% and 25%, say headhunters. Boutique private banks, however, typically offer more generous increases, primarily to attract new RMs who might otherwise be put off by their limited platforms. EFG, LGT, Safra Sarasin, UBP, and VP Bank – for example – have been hiring.
Meanwhile, as all private banks in Hong Kong increasingly compete to manage the offshore assets of Chinese clients, HK-based RMs who cover Greater China are also now landing above-average pay hikes of 30% to 35%, says Metters.
But there’s a potential downside to rampant pay inflation in private banking – if you land a lucrative new job, you will face onerous new targets. “Private banks realise they need to pay top dollar to recruit and retain the best bankers in Asia, but at the same time, non-performing bankers are let go quite aggressively,” says former Merrill Lynch private banker Rahul Sen, now a global leader in private wealth management at search firm Boyden. “Newly hired bankers are given about 18 months to two years to break even or get near, but after that the cuts can be quite drastic.”
Private banking salaries in Hong Kong are marginally higher than those in Singapore, primarily because Hong Kong is closer to the booming Chinese market in private wealth, says Metters. “The quality of bankers in Hong Kong is also slightly better than in Singapore, and Hong Kong is an older private banking centre. But Singapore is catching up very quickly on the pay front,” says Sen.
Private banking bonuses in Hong Kong
Your private banking bonus percentage in Hong Kong depends more on which type of 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).
As the table below shows, UBS and Credit Suisse, Asia’s largest private banks by assets, offer the smallest bonus percentages. Your total bonus figure at these firms is likely to be competitive, however. “There are RMs at UBS and CS who produce much higher revenues than they would elsewhere because they have more options in each product category and have tier-one product support and platforms,” says a former private banker. “This can collectively lead to more revenue generated to compensate for a lower bonus ratio.”
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