In a sector as afflicted by talent shortages as Asian private banking, the hiring of just one relationship manager (RM) can cause plenty of headaches for banks.
Morgan Stanley now faces much sterner recruitment challenges. The US bank, which currently has about 100 RMs across Asia, wants to expand its front-office headcount by 10% to 20% this year – and for the foreseeable future after that. If you want a job at Morgan Stanley’s Asian private bank, you are advised to apply to Singapore. The firm now has only 30 RMs in the city state but now plans to recruit more rapidly there than elsewhere in the region, Nick Chan, a Morgan Stanley managing director, told the Business Times.
“As part of our Singapore expansion, we have recently opened a dedicated Greater China desk in Singapore to serve those Chinese clients with strong links to Singapore,” says Chan. “Many Chinese entrepreneurs have families and business operations in Singapore. They like to be here. Given the strong momentum in our business in the Asean region, we expect the growth of our Singapore team to be faster than that of Hong Kong.”
Morgan Stanley, however, faces a plethora of rivals in its hunt for Singaporean RMs. DBS for example, last year overtook the US bank in terms of Asian assets under management, according to a new ranking by Asian Private Banker. And as we reported last week, Credit Suisse is also looking to expand its private bank in Asia under new CEO Tidjane Thiam. All these banks are after the same staff: senior RMs with a full book of high-net-worth Asian clients.
Still, there are factors that might attract more RMs to Morgan Stanley’s ranks, according to Chan. The firm’s private bank clients, for example, can access the same research teams (and the same reports) as pension funds or sovereign wealth funds. “It’s not a separate private bank research banking department,” he said in the Business Times interview. “We’re the only bank to invite private bank clients to corporate trips.”
And there’s another draw-card that Chan didn’t mention: Morgan Stanley pays one of the highest bonuses percentages in Asian private banking.
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