Standard Chartered’s reported hiring of 10 Barclays relationship managers in Hong Kong is just the first step in an “aggressive” expansion in Asian private banking.
Last month we reported that Barclays RMs were being eyed up by other private banks ahead of the merger of their firm’s Asian wealth business with Bank of Singapore.
Stan Chart’s new poaching raid means it has stolen a march on competitors – in particular Credit Suisse and Julius Baer – that also wanted Barclays talent.
This is perhaps unsurprising given that Didier Von Daeniken, Stan Chart’s Singapore-based global private banking head, joined from Barclays in March this year.
Von Daeniken then recruited his North Asia and Southeast Asia heads – Vivian Chan and Srinivas Siripurapu respectively – from his old firm.
The 10 new Hong Kong hires – who are senior and represent about a third of Barclays RM headcount in the city – will report to their former boss Chan, according to a headhunter with knowledge of the move.
“The Barclays RMs are very familiar with Stan Chart’s leadership – that’s one of the main reasons they came on board,” says Liu San Li, a former Coutts private banker, now client director in private wealth management at search firm EMA Partners. “At Bank of Singapore it would take them time to see what the firm is really like.”
Stan Chart will continue to hire RMs in both Hong Kong and Singapore, say headhunters.
“Von Daeniken, Siripurapu and Chan are all very well respected, and their appointments show how seriously Stan Chart is now taking private banking in Asia,” says former Merrill Lynch private banker Rahul Sen, now head of wealth management at search firm The Omerta Group.
“Their objective is now to the grow the business,” adds Sen. “They have, within reason, almost a blank cheque to hire the best people.”
Stan Chart's private bank wants to “substantially” says to the $45bn in assets it manages in Asia, says the anonymous headhunter. It is currently only the 13th largest private bank in the region by assets. “This means it needs more RMs – I’d estimate about 100 more over the next couple of years” he adds.
Although headcount at Stan Chart’s private bank shot up in 2008 following its takeover of American Express’s banking arm, its RM workforce in Asia increased by only 30 people between 2012 and 2015, according to Asian Private Banker. It now stands at just over 300.
Ramping up recruitment after a period of relative stagnation won’t be straightforward. “But there should be enough private banks going through a down-cycle for Stan Chart to feed off,” says Sen. “There’ll be musical chairs of senior people.”
The anonymous headhunter adds: “HSBC’s private bank isn’t hiring too much at the moment and nor are Goldman and ABN AMRO. When there’s low recruitment, senior RMs feel uncertain and that’s why Stan Chart's private bank might now be appealing, despite the restructuring happening in other areas off the firm.”
There’s also the prospect of better pay. “Stan Chart needs to be a good paymaster because it’s expanding more aggressively than most. It would have outbid Bank of Singapore for the Barclays RMs, for example,” says Liu from EMA Partners.
Image credit: Johnny Chih-Chung Chang, Getty