The job market in Hong Kong and Singapore isn’t all about layoffs, however. Some senior managers have mandates to grow their teams in 2016 – here’s our pick of the most expansionist bankers in Asia.
1. Matt Hanning, head of investment banking Asia Pacific, UBS
Headcount growth at UBS’s Asian investment bank may not match that of its wealth management unit, but the division is at least back in hiring mode for the first time since the financial crisis. As European rivals pare back in Asian IBD, Hanning is looking to increase his firm’s market share by bringing in new senior dealmakers. He has recently hired three managing directors and one executive director in the region and plans to add about 12 more experienced bankers over the next year. Hanning, an Australian and former lawyer, stepped into his current role in March 2014 after eight years in other jobs at UBS and six years at Morgan Stanley.
2. Zhao Yu, head of China corporate financing and capital markets, Citic CLSA Securities
Zhao joined from CIMB last month with an immediate mandate to hire. She is set to expand her 50-strong China coverage team following a record year for mainland revenues at Citic CLSA, the firm created when China’s Citic Securities acquired CLSA in 2013 and merged it with its Hong Kong-based international unit. Veteran Zhao has also worked at RBS, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse, but started her career as a TV producer.
3. Ronald Ong, chairman and chief executive for Southeast Asia, Morgan Stanley
Ong told Singapore’s Business Times earlier this month that he plans to expand the firm’s Asian wealth management operations more rapidly than in the recent past and will set up a new China desk in Singapore. He also hinted at the type of private bankers he wants to hire – those who can sell investment banking products to entrepreneurial clients. UBS and Credit Suisse seem the obvious hunting grounds for these candidates – both banks are pursuing similar cross-selling strategies.
4. David Cheng, head of corporate finance, OCBC
OCBC may not be your top choice for a job in Asian investment banking but its ranks are at least expanding. Last month the firm hired 20-year veteran banker Cheng to head up its equity capital markets, mergers and acquisitions and equity syndication teams – and it tasked him with growing these units. Cheng was previously head of corporate finance execution for Southeast Asia at Deutsche Bank – and his appointment adds to the growing trend of Singaporean banks poaching senior bankers from global players.
5. Johnson Chui, head of equity capital markets Asia Pacific, Credit Suisse
Credit Suisse may be cutting back its investment bank and refocusing on wealth management, but Asian ECM is an exception. Chui, formerly ECM head for China, was promoted last month to a regional role that includes India and Southeast Asia – and he has been tasked with expanding his team at a senior level. Credit Suisse has already been adding rainmakers as part of its plans to double its pre-tax income from the region by 2018 – it recently named Pankaj Goel as co-head of Southeast Asia and Rehan Anwer as head of frontier markets, for investment banking and capital markets.
6. Christophe Aba, regional head of investments Southeast Asia, J.P. Morgan
Singapore-based Aba, who manages a team of 40 advising wealthy clients across Southeast Asia, told the Straits Times last month that despite turbulent market conditions J.P. Morgan still plans to expand in the region. Want to impress Aba at a job interview? Say you love getting to work early to catch up on the financial news – Aba is at his desk by 7.15am – but don’t say you like early-morning chats. “The first thing I do is to read as much as I can when there’s no one around to interrupt me.”
7. Riahi Francois, chief executive officer wholesale banking Asia Pacific, Natixis
Undeterred by the economic slowdown in China, Natixis is targeting a 15% expansion in its Asian investment banking business in 2016, reports Reuters. Natixis hopes to generate most of its revenues outside of France within two years, and Francois will be helping to lead this charge in Asia. Francois launched his banking career only after rising to the top of the French civil service – from 2007 to 2009 he was an advisor to former French President Nicolas Sarkozy on public finance. He then joined French bank Groupe BPCE as deputy CEO for strategy before moving to Hong Kong with Natixis in 2012.
8. Tan Su Shan, group head consumer banking and wealth management, DBS
After winning plaudits for overseeing her firm’s takeover of Societe Generale’s Asian wealth management business last year, Tan now has plans to further expand private banking at DBS. She’s aiming to grow its assets by 40% to US$100bn in less than three years – and unsurprisingly private banking headhunters expect DBS to be hiring new relationship mangers in both Singapore and Hong next year. Last month Tan appointed a deputy group head to help her drive the planned expansion – Hong Kong-based MD Pearlyn Phau is relocating to Singapore in January.
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