Senior UOB interest rates trader Lawrence Lee has joined Taiwan's CTBC Bank in Singapore as a director. The move is part of a growing trend of Singapore traders from large banks being poached by firms with smaller operations in the Republic.
Lee spent nine years at UOB, latterly as a director and interest rate trader focused on short-term interest rate management, according to his online profile. He also ran an FX basis arbitrage book across several currencies and actively traded FX forwards, bonds and interest rate derivatives.
Singapore remains an Asian hub for rates trading, but major banks there are not hiring traders in great numbers, providing more scope for emerging players like CTBC to poach senior staff.
"There's demand for interest rate traders, but mostly from the mid-sized banks," says a Singapore-based front-office recruiter. "They're looking to grow their global markets businesses by building up their rates desks, hence they're hiring senior people who already have the necessary skills and experience."
While traders in Singapore typically change banks every two to three years, Lee's UOB career is a textbook example of how to move up the ranks at one firm and still get to senior level fairly quickly.
Lee became an AVP just 18 months after graduating from NUS and landing a place on UOB's management associate programme, according to his profile. A promotion to VP followed only a year later. While at UOB he also found time to complete both the CFA and FRM qualifications.
CTBC is one of Taiwan's largest privately-owned banks, but it is a niche player in Singapore. "Traders usually join a firm like this for a substantial uplift in pay and more trading autonomy," says another Singapore recruiter.
Still, CTBC is expanding in Singapore and across Southeast Asia this year – and it is not alone among Taiwanese institutions. Bank of Taiwan, Chang Hwa Bank, First Commercial Bank, Taiwan Business Bank, Taiwan Cooperative Bank, and Yuanta Commercial Bank Taiwan are all growing their operations in the region.
Taiwanese banks are targeting Southeast Asia because of their government's 'New Southbound Policy', aimed at reducing Taiwan’s economic reliance on mainland China.
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