Royal Bank of Scotland is winding down much of its Asian operations, turning Singapore into a small sales and trading hub as it refocuses on the UK market.
Several senior Asian RBS employees are leaving the bank this month, having been retained to ensure a smooth shut-down, according to a Singapore-based recruiter who asked not to be named. Others will soon follow.
The bank has, however, been plotting its Asian demise for much of the past two years, and many RBS staffers have already shifted to other banks as a result. If you’re leaving RBS in the near future, here are some profiles of successful trailblazers you might want to emulate.
Bulge bracket hiring in Asia may be tepid in Asia right now, but boutique advisory firms are still waiting to pounce when a serious rainmaker hits the job market. Until July this year Rohan Thakrar was a 17-year RBS veteran and had worked for the firm in London, Tokyo and finally Singapore, rising to become an MD and head of credit trading for Asia. He now has the same rank and title – but he’s working for Jefferies in Singapore.
Singaporean banks have been stepping up their hiring from global players recently – and not just at rank-and-file level. Amy Chua worked at RBS Singapore for seven years, most recently as head of risk and control and COO for APAC, until she was poached by DBS in 2014. She’s retained her head-of status and now leads risk and control, technology and operations at the firm’s customer service centre.
While junior compliance vacancies are in bountiful supply in Asia, finding new leadership roles in the function isn’t straight forward. Barbara Leach-Walters, however, appears to have managed a smooth transition. She was with RBS in London and Hong Kong between 2005 and 2015, including a final eight-month stint as head of compliance for Greater China. She’s still in Hong Kong, but is now head of Asian compliance for global services at State Street.
Roland Lee has 18 years’ experience in information security, cyber security and technology risk, and was working for IBM before joining RBS in 2010 as head of information security for Asia Pacific. In July this year he joined Natixis in Hong Kong as chief security officer and head of information security and technology risk – both for the APAC region. Lee seems to have timed his moved well – the French firm is targeting a 15% expansion in its Asian investment banking business in 2016.
Transaction banking is growing in importance in Asia as banks seek more stable revenue sources in the region. Experienced Asian transaction banker Cissy Hon has been in demand throughout her career – she’s been in mid and senior-level jobs in the sector since 2001, working for ABN AMRO, Citi, Deutsche Bank and BNP Paribas before joining RBS in 2013 as head of North Asia trade market management and regional head of supply chain. Quitting RBS wasn’t a problem for Hon – she simply moved to Standard Chartered as transaction banking sales head for Hong Kong.
Leaving RBS last year eventually led to a remarkable mid-to-front-office career change for Singapore-based Jacqueline Lim. At RBS she was a finance risk and controls analyst and she joined UBS’s wealth management unit in a similar position. After just a few months, however, Lim became a client advisor assistant – UBS code for trainee private banker – and since this October she has been a fully-fledged client advisor. UBS and rival Credit Suisse are both increasing their investments in Asian training programmes that convert staff from other departments into private bankers.
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