HSBC has rehired one of its former corporate bankers, after a year, as a private banker. Melvin Wong left his job managing relationships with Hong Kong conglomerates at HSBC global banking in December 2016 to become a director at private bank Union Bancaire Privée, his first job in private banking.
His UBP move coincided with an Asian recruitment drive by the bank following its purchase of Coutts International earlier that year. The Geneva-based firm was attempting to take on 40 more relationship managers in Hong Kong and Singapore in a bid to double its assets under management.
After 12 months at UPB, however, Wong returned to his former firm last month as a private banker covering Greater China for HSBC Private Bank, according to his online profile. HSBC ranks in fourth position for Asian assets under management, and like higher-placed rivals UBS, Citi and Credit Suisse, it is hiring more Hong Kong-based RMs as the number of Chinese millionaires and billionaires surges.
The transition from corporate to private banking is not always easy. Some newly-minted private bankers are forced out of the sector entirely after just six to 12 months, if they fail to hit revenue targets because of not converting enough of their former clients.
HSBC is typically able to attract bankers from boutiques like UBP by offering them access to a broader and more complex product range. Wong, for example, can meet both the private and corporate needs of his clients, tapping knowledge of HSBC products gained during his previous stint at the bank.
Shifting from a boutique firm to a large private bank won’t necessarily boost your base salary, however. Boutiques (including UBP, LGT, VP Bank, EFG, and Safra Sarasin) have themselves been recruiting aggressively in Asia in recent months, often luring candidates with pay rises of 30% to 50%.
“Let’s say a boutique pays you 40% more, but meets only 50% of your clients’ needs, but a major bank pays a 20% increment and meets 90%,” Liu San Li, an ex-private banker, now head of banking at search firm IGS Asia, told us previously. “I would advise you to go with the latter because your survivability in the boutique might be short lived.”
Wong joined HSBC in 2010 as an AVP covering large corporates in HSBC commercial banking
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