Credit Suisse may have its own share of global issues – chief among them 6,000 job cuts and a sliding stock price – but in Asia it’s aggressively targeting talent from ‘weak’ rivals.
The Swiss firm’s private bank recruited 100 relationship managers in Asia in the year to end-June, and according to CEO Tidjane Thiam it took advantage of people departing from competitors retrenching in the region.
Now Credit Suisse is stepping up its efforts to poach RMs who have a ‘push factor’ to leave their current employers, say headhunters.
In a talent short job market in wealth management, the firm is under pressure to recruit 150 more private bankers by 2018 and meet Thiam’s 800-RM headcount target for Asia.
“CS is mainly hiring RMs from banks which aren't doing very well, like Deutsche and Standard Chartered,” says a source close to the bank who asked not to be named. “These are top RMs who want to leave for a relatively more stable platform.”
“Right now there are a few firms that are in the doldrums globally or are selling off in Asian wealth,” adds former Merrill Lynch private banker Rahul Sen, now head of wealth management at search firm The Omerta Group.
Barclays RMs, for example, are being tapped by headhunters following the sale of their firm’s Asian wealth business to Bank of Singapore in April. BSI private bankers are also a target as EFG completes the purchase of BSI’s Singapore operations.
“It’s natural that CS will go after people from struggling competitors, who have an incentive to leave their current employer as well as to join CS,” says Sen. “But other firms are doing the same thing, so CS won’t always win out.”
That's not to say more stable private banks aren't on Credit Suisse's hiring radar. This week, for example, it reportedly hired Patricia Enslow, the chief Asia marketing officer for the region's largest private bank, UBS.
But RM moves from UBS to its Swiss rival aren't generally on the increase, says our source. “Movement both ways has actually always been common due to lots of business similarities between the two banks," he adds.
Credit Suisse is mainly hiring senior-level Asian RMs from its rivals, says the CS source. “You need to show a good business case and proven record that you can bring in the books. So far this year, the CS hiring spree is mainly focusing on North Asia, with some on South East Asia.”
But while there are plenty of senior Asian investment bankers in need of new jobs, convincing experienced private bankers to change roles is altogether more difficult – even if their current firm is going through difficulties.
“Seniors are the most reluctant to move despite offers of massive pay increments and bonuses,” says Liu San Li, a former Coutts private banker, now client director in private wealth management at search firm EMA Partners in Singapore.
“Stringent compliance regulations for client onboarding mean the biggest uncertainty is how fast and easily their clients can join the new bank. No one can answer that question until the account opening application is actually processed,” adds Liu.
While Credit Suisse’s external hiring has a senior focus, it’s also trying to grow its own graduate talent pool. This year it has doubled its intake of private banking analysts in Singapore and Hong Kong, Jullie Kan, vice chairman of South East Asia private banking, told us last week.
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