Most private banks are trying to capture more Chinese clients by hiring more Hong Kong-based relationship managers (RMs) to manage mainland money – skill shortages in Hong Kong private banking have intensified as a result. But Bank of East Asia has decided to opt out of this expensive talent war.
In the first five months of the year, BEA’s private bank increased its share of mainland assets under management (AUM) by 18% – they now make up 33% of total AUM, Gloria Sun, the firm’s head of private banking, told the South China Morning Post. By 2017, BEA aims to have half of its private banking assets hailing from mainland China.
But while BEA has boosted its AUM, it hasn’t embarked on the kind of hiring sprees so common among its competitors – from global giants Citi to minnows Maybank. BEA still only has just over 40 RMs – there are at least 18 firms with a higher headcount in Asian private banking.
Instead BEA is using is vast commercial branch network in mainland China – which is second only to HSBC’s among foreign banks – to generate business for its private bank as more mainland-based entrepreneurs do business abroad, reports the SCMP. “We don’t have 128 relationship managers but we do have 128 branches in China,” said Grace Chow, BEA’s general manager and head of wealth management.
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