Barclays and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp are in discussions over a wealth management alliance in Japan that the British bank says it hopes will bring together Sumitomo’s domestic client capacity and Barclays Wealth’s product and global reach.
But what shape can we expect the proposed private banking alliance to take?
Warwick Pearmund, a senior consultant for finance sector recruitment at Boyd & Moore, says until the extent of the deal becomes clear, it’s impossible to tell whether or not there will be any hiring or any movement of staff between the two firms. But for language reasons and to be accepted by local high net worth clients, he expects the alliance will predominantly employ Japanese nationals.
Matt Anderson, manager of the banking and finance team at Legal Futures, says it seems likely that any UK-Japanese alliance will rely upon the expertise of the Japanese side to gain a meaningful foothold in the market, meaning that the top spots will probably be held by Japanese and the internal atmosphere and business model more domestic than European.
And if recent Western-Japanese banking mergers are anything to go by, that brings with it the potential for cultural clashes.
“If you are going to bring a Japanese bank together with a Western bank, history suggests there will be major cultural difficulties in most aspects of the business, not just with the way firms pay staff and service clients. The culture conflicts are likely to present considerable challenges,” says Pearmund.