Morning Coffee: UBS and Credit Suisse to clash in new battle for Asian bankers

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UBS and Credit Suisse hire in Asian private banking

When private banks clash

Swiss rivals UBS and Credit Suisse are expected to further ramp up their recruitment of relationship managers (RMs) in Asia this year as senior leaders at both firms target new expansion plans in private banking.

Juerg Zeltner, wealth management CEO at UBS, is the latest executive to talk up Asian growth. In an interview with Reuters yesterday he said the bank wants to increase wealth assets in Asia Pacific by about 15% annually as it builds its presence in China. Last month, UBS CEO Sergio Ermotti said he expected Asia to represent 30% of UBS’ global invested assets within a decade.

While UBS does have programmes in place to groom its own crop of RMs, the extent of its growth ambitions undoubtedly means it will be hiring plenty of new staff. This looks like putting UBS, the largest private bank in Asia, in even more intense competition with second-placed Credit Suisse – a firm that under new CEO Tidjane Thiam is also pivoting its business towards Asia and towards private banking this year.

If last year’s hiring is anything to go by, the sheer size of UBS’ Asian business may give it an edge in terms of recruitment numbers. Its RMs headcount increased by 154 to reach 1,186 in 2014, according to figures from Asian Private Banker. Credit Suisse added 50 new RMs over the same period, taking its workforce to 490.

Neither firm will find hiring in Asia entirely straight forward, however. Their shared disadvantage is that the size of their Asian businesses means clients of RMs they want to poach may already have assets booked with them and may be reluctant to move, say headhunters.


J.P. Morgan reshuffles its senior ranks in Asia. (Wall Street Journal)

Aberdeen Asset Management says Standard Chartered should move its headquarters to Singapore. (Reuters)

Standard Chartered appoints Aaron Loo as head of retail clients for Malaysia. (The Star)

HSBC should not become a regional Asian bank, says chief executive Stuart Gulliver. (South China Morning Post)

And HSBC says sorry for an online blunder on its Hong Kong website which directed visitors to a pornographic site. (Business Times)

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