Both Evercore and RHB are suddenly talking up investment-banking headcount expansions in Singapore just days after news broke of job cuts at Goldman Sachs, CIMB and RBS. Coincidence? We think not. While the plans of both banks would have been months in the making, the timing of the announcements sends a strong message to the job market: our brands may not be the biggest in Singapore, but we are committed to growing our headcount here.
At the same time as Malaysian rival CIMB is cutting investment banking costs by 30% and chopping 15 jobs in Singapore, RHB wants “to scale up Singapore aggressively”, making the city state its treasury hub for regional fixed income, equities, FX, sales and trading, as well for originating regional business, Mike Chan, RHB investment bank managing director, told the Business Times.
Chan says a key reason for the Singapore expansion is that it’s “easy to hire talent” there – presumably because the Republic has a larger banking workforce than Kuala Lumpur’s. However, his announcement also makes RHB well placed to poach talent from RBS. The UK bank is trying to retain a rump of sales and trading staff in Singapore – its current focus is FX, interest rates, commodities and debt capital markets – in the midst of massive global job cuts. As we reported last week, these RBS employees are vulnerable to poaching and RHB’s plans to grow sales and trading now appear to make it an ideal destination for RBS talent.
RHB currently has 400 people in its investment bank in Singapore and plans to hire 200 more across the region, with Singapore likely to take the bulk of the new recruits. Evercore, meanwhile, is planning a smaller but still significant expansion. The New York-based M&A advisory boutique could increase its workforce in Southeast Asia to as many as 20 people by December, up from 11 currently, reports Bloomberg. The move is not altogether surprising – on January 21, we reported that Evercore would be among the most active recruiters among boutiques banks in Asia.
Will Evercore be snapping up staff made redundant by Goldman Sachs, Standard Chartered, RBS and CIMB in recent weeks? It seems not. Evercore wants to recruit the “best athletes”, not those who’ve been culled by rivals, CEO Ralph Schlosstein told Bloomberg. “We’re looking to pick up the ones who are so valuable they are kept.”
But will M&A bankers in Singapore want to move to a firm that only ranked 45th among advisers on announced mergers in Southeast Asia last year? The firm looks to have timed its expansion well. As we’ve noted, junior bankers in Asia, once obsessed with the perceived career and personal status gained by joining a big-brand firm, are now becoming more open to forging careers at boutique investment banks. “This year we’re seeing more and more analysts from all functions looking to make a switch,” Nicholas Lui, a banking consultant at recruiters Links, told us previously
Bank of China boss He Guangbei steps down “due to age”. (South China Morning Post)
DBS wins big at Singapore HR awards. (Asia One)
China considers giving banks stock broking licences. (Business Times)
Asian banks are holding more capital than expected – and that’s not necessarily good for shareholders. (South China Morning Post)
Foreign banks tighten rules for lending to China state-backed companies. (Reuters)
Senior Goldman Sachs banker sue the firm for repeatedly discriminating against her because she is a woman. (Telegraph)