UBS wants a different type of banker for Hong Kong hiring spree. This is it

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UBS Hong Kong

UBS will need to recruit from Hong Kong and mainland banks – not just global ones – if it’s to meet its “ambitious” new goal of hiring 100 private bankers in Hong Kong in just the next two years, say headhunters.

The new bankers will target high-net-worth (HNW) clients (those with $2m to $50m to invest), Jean-Claude Humair, regional market manager for Hong Kong at UBS, told Reuters.

“These are ambitious plans because Hong Kong has no hinterland to hire from, so there has to be considerable poaching from rival banks,” says former Merrill Lynch private banker Rahul Sen, now head of wealth management at search firm The Omerta Group.

Unsurprisingly, UBS will first look to hire from the likes of Credit Suisse, Standard Chartered and Julius Baer because of similarities in their bankers’ “experience, expectations and working culture”, says Sean Kang, director of wealth management at consultancy McLagan.

But these banks are also growing their workforces in Asia, which will making poaching from them far from straightforward. Credit Suisse needs to recruit 180 relationship managers to meet its target, announced by CEO Tidjane Thiam in 2015, of having 800 RMs in APAC by the end of next year.

The scale of the hiring at UBS means the bank will consider candidates currently based in mainland China as well as RMs from local banks in Hong Kong, despite their firms having less sophisticated product platforms.

These bankers are also more likely to serve the middle-ranking millionaires that UBS now wants to focus on. About 90% of Hong Kong’s ultra-high-net-worth billionaires already bank with UBS and several of its rivals, most prominently Standard Chartered, are trying to expand in UHNW.

“UBS is very strong in UHNW, so HNW is where it can grow its business,” says Kang. “All banks want to serve UHNW, but actually people in the middle group can generate a lot of business as they’re not as well banked.”

If you want to become a HNW client advisor (as the bank calls its relationship managers) at UBS, you will need to manage at least $150m to $200m at you current bank, says Sen.

UBS is likely to want candidates with at least eight years’ experiences, adds Kang.

Your clients should not be too thinly spread across Asia – UBS likes its bankers to have 70% to 80% of their clients based in one market, says Sen. The 100 new hires at UBS will likely be Hong Kong, China or Taiwan specialists.

Image credit: janetymw, Getty

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