Private bankers in Singapore have yet more potential employment options to consider after Indonesia’s Bank Mandiri and Liechtenstein’s VP Bank announced expansion plans in the Republic. But both firms will need to work hard to convince relationship managers to join them as larger competitors – from Julius Baer to Deustche Bank – also step up their recruitment.
Bank Mandiri is opening a full branch in Singapore. It will mainly target previously hidden Indonesian wealth in the city state – currently held by other banks and valued at $55.7bn – that has recently been declared under Indonesia’s tax amnesty programme.
Recruiting new Singapore-based RMs will be problematic, however. While Mandiri is Indonesia’s largest bank, some Indonesian clients won’t want the same firm to manage their onshore and offshore assets, says a former Asian private banker who asked not to be named.
The job market for Indonesia coverage bankers in Singapore is already fiercely competitive, he adds. “Standard Chartered, for example, has lost some of its Indonesia desk in recent months, partly to Credit Suisse and Julius Baer.”
“Indonesia constitutes about 25% to 40% of wealth management coverage in Singapore, so all banks need to recruit and retain strong Indonesia RMs,” says ex-Merrill Lynch private banker Rahul Sen, now head of wealth management at search firm The Omerta Group. “Bank of Singapore, UBS, Credit Suisse, Julius Baer and HSBC are particularly big players.”
To get the people it needs, Mandiri may have to follow the example of Malaysia’s CIMB, which has been hiring for its private bank in Singapore this year. “In other words, it could recruit a few senior – and perhaps currently out of work – bankers, and then hope it attracts more RMs as a result. Good priority bankers could be another option,” says Sen.
VP Bank, meanwhile, plans to double its 40-strong Singapore headcount in the next two to three years, local CEO Bruno Morel told the Straits Times. “VP was traditionally small in Asia and struggled to acquire clients and RMs because it wasn’t willing to pay top dollar and its trading systems were centralised in Europe, which didn’t suit some Asian clients,” says Sen. “Out of the Liechtenstein banks, Asian RMs traditionally preferred working for LGT.”
While hiring more RMs won’t be straightforward for VP Bank, its renewed focus on serving family offices and independent asset managers may prove attractive to some candidates. “Having a platform which caters to family offices and IAMs means it could make inroads into a growing business in Asia,” says Sen. “It will look to hire RMs who have a large IAM client base.”
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