Why Goldman Sachs has Asia's most productive private bankers

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Why Goldman Sachs has Asia's most productive private bankers

European and Singaporean private banks may be doing much of the hiring in Asian wealth management, but relationship managers at their American rivals are looking after more money per head.

Goldman Sachs’ Asia-based RMs manage $988.6m each on average, according to 2017 figures (recently published by Asian Private Banker) that divide each bank’s regional AUM by the number of RMs it employs. That’s a 29% increase over the previous year.

Unlike many of its competitors, Goldman has not been on a hiring spree in Asian wealth. Its RM workforce fell by three people last year, but it retained its sole focus on serving ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) clients, who tend to park their assets with only a few RMs. At about $100m in investable assets, Goldman’s UHNW threshold also exceeds than that of many other banks, which typically admit their elite clients at around the $30m mark. Another US lender in the top-three, J.P. Morgan, also targets wealthier clients and keep its recruitment to a minimum.

Citi ranks in second spot, despite the figures including its Citigold mass-affluent brand. “But it too manages quite a bit of UHNW money in Asia, and has done for a long time,” says former Merrill Lynch private banker Rahul Sen, now head of wealth management at search firm The Omerta Group. “Citi’s focus – like Goldman’s and J.P. Morgan’s – is on UHNW and it even has a ‘mega wealth’ team, clients with $250m and above, which increases its AUM,” says Sen. Citi is expanding its RM headcount this year as it gets more "aggressive" with its recruitment, Jyrki Rauhio, South Asia head of Citi Private Bank, told us earlier this month.

One of the most aggressive recruiters of Asian RMs in 2017, Deutsche Bank, only finishes in 14th place in the productivity table (its RMs manage $235.2m on average). “Firms that have taken on new bankers recently need to give them time to grow their books,” says Sen.

Bottom-placed Standard Chartered, meanwhile, will be trying to improve its position in 2018 as it refocuses on recruiting RMs with wealthier clients. Last year it increased its minimum-assets threshold from $2m to $5m, and began concentrating on attracting individuals and families with at least $30m to invest.

Image credit: samxmeg, Getty

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