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Morning Coffee: Robots take on bankers in Singapore

Technology threatens priority banker hiring in Singapore

Actually, I'm a priority banker

Priority banking hiring is still booming in Singapore this year, but there’s an emerging threat to recruitment at the junior end of the sector – technology.

Firms including Citi, Standard Chartered, HSBC, ANZ, DBS, OCBC and UOB are all “aggressively” hiring priority bankers (who cover ‘mass-affluent’ clients with assets between about USD$200k to USD$1m), says a recruiter in the city state who asked not to be named.

“There’s a continuous growing affluent clientele in Asia and banks partner with these clients through early stages of their financial lifecycle and help them grow,” adds Rahul Sen, head of private wealth management at search firm The Omerta Group in Singapore.

For clients at the lower end of the mass-affluent spectrum, however, banks are increasingly servicing their needs via enhanced online plaforms rather than employees. “The emerging affluent, they are not wealthy enough for us to put a full-time relationship manager, and neither do they want one,” Dennis Khoo, head of personal financial services for Singapore at UOB, told Channel News Asia this week. “So there, we are going really digital and we are educating them online and then channelling them to a human interface as and when they need more help or they are at the final stages of making their decision.”

As technology takes over for these clients, hiring of relationship managers in priority banking is now increasingly focused on more senior staff who can service the wealthier customers in the sector. “Demand for talent is starting to drop at the junior end, where some banks are investing more in technology,” says the anonymous recruiter.

“But while technology is automating more transactions, it can’t replace the human advisory part completely,” adds Sen.


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