Relationship managers at Barclays in Singapore and Hong Kong will soon face new overlords – earlier this month Bank of Singapore (BOS) won the race to buy Barclays’ Asian wealth unit.
But merely surviving the initial move to BOS is no guarantee of longer-term success for Barclays’ private bankers.
Here’s what they can do now to help ensure they not only retain their positions, but actually succeed on the job following the merger. With more takeovers expected in Asian private banking, RMs at other banks may want to take heed.
1. Be seen to support the change
Whatever your reservations, if you want to survive and thrive at the new bank, you now need to openly support the takeover. “The newly merged organisation will want to be lean and mean, and people obstructing the changes are easy pickings,” says Henry Chamberlain, a Hong Kong-based executive coach and former head of selection at Standard Chartered. “Become part of the change. There will be tons of integration-related work groups, so volunteer to join some – this is where the future of the new firm will be decided.”
2. Explain the merger carefully to your clients
You should set up meetings with all your clients to explain how the merger will benefit them. “While in the past clients were more connected with their RMs and cared less about the institutional platform, this has changed over the last few years,” says Pathik Gupta, head of Asia Pacific wealth management at consultancy McLagan. “Clients will want to see if the new institution can continue to offer them the same solutions and advice, so it’s imperative to be as close as possible to your clients during this time of change.”
3. But tailor your message
Don’t rattle off the same spiel to all your clients. Barclays bankers will need to make an extra effort to ensure any European clients stay on board post-merger, for example. “European clients may be concerned about whether BOS, as an Asian bank, will understand their needs and ‘tastes’ in products and facilities,” says Liu San Li, an ex-Coutts private banker, now head of private wealth management at I Search Worldwide in Singapore. “RMs will need to ensure there’s no loss of cultural understanding. By contrast, BOS is perceived much more positively than Barclays by Asian clients because of its supreme safety ratings and wider product infrastructure.”
4. Identify duplication early on
Wealthy people in Asia tend to use multiple private banks – so it’s crucial to quickly find out whether any of your current clients are already being served by the new firm. “If there’s duplication of accounts, you ideally need to ensure that you have better revenue generation and asset growth from these clients than the RM at the other bank,” says Liu. “Then you can justify why you should continue to service them. Ultimately, of course, the clients have the last say.”
5. Decide on a market
The new private bank may have a client-coverage structure different from your current one – so find out what it is and start working out how you’ll adapt. Bank of Singapore has a more defined market segmentation than Barclays does, for example. “If you cover mixed markets at Barclays it will be almost non-negotiable at BOS that, after a grace period, you’ll need to focus on a predominate country and consolidate your books based on BOS’s structure,” says Liu.
6. Network widely
Make the most of any opportunities to network with staff of the bank that’s about to buy you, whether it’s during pre-merger meetings or at industry events. And don’t limit your networking to other RMs – your success at the new firm will also depend on your relationships with product, compliance and other support staff. “Being open minded, having internal dialogues with different stakeholders, and creating an internal network even before you start are critical,” says Gupta from McLagan.
7. Contact your next manager
If you find out pre-merger that your next boss is from the new bank, don’t wait for them to contact you. “Go introduce yourself and talk about your relevant skills, experience, networks, and know-how of how your current bank ticks,” says Paul Heng, founder of NeXT Corporate Coaching Services in Singapore.
8. Communicate to your own team
When doing the above, don’t neglect any staff you’re managing at the moment. “Change guru Peter Drucker suggested leaders must ‘over communicate’ changes by a factor of 10,” say executive coach Chamberlain. “Ensure that your team’s goals are aligned with the new changes and let your team be seen as a model for the merger.”
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