The one surefire way to avoid HSBC’s 4,000 job cuts

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The one surefire way to avoid HSBC’s 4,000 job cuts

If you want to work in a secure part of HSBC, try its private bank in Asia. Under new cost-cutting plans unveiled last month, HSBC is trimming about 2% of its workforce globally (about 4,000 people) this year, with expensive senior staff in Global Banking and Markets expected to bear the brunt of the cuts. In Asian private banking, however, it’s a different story.

HSBC announced last September that it’s adding about 650 new staff – including front-office relationship managers and investment counsellors – to its Asian private bank, with most of the new recruits based in Hong Kong and Singapore. HSBC’s August restructuring does not appear to have affected these regional expansion plans – the firm’s appetite for costly senior private banking employees remains strong. “HSBC will continue to hire in Asian private banking this year. The majority of its job cuts are in investment banking and markets,” says former Merrill Lynch private banker Rahul Sen, now a global leader in private wealth management at search firm Boyden.

Among the latest high-profile people to join HSBC’s private bank is Hong Kong-based investment specialist Lina Lim, who came on board last month as a managing director and regional head of discretionary for Asia Pacific, according to her LinkedIn profile. HSBC declined to comment on her move. Lim previously spent just under eight years as an investment specialist at JP Morgan, focused on institutional wealth management, portfolio wealth management, and fund advisory.

Lim is not the only new private banking MD at HSBC in Hong Kong. In July, Andrew Lau, who was investment counsellor head at HSBC until 2014, returned to the firm as an MD and desk head for the Hong Kong market, having spent the previous five years as an executive director at Credit Suisse. Nor is Lim the only person who’s moved between JPM’s and HSBC’s private banks in Hong Kong over the past year. As we previously reported, Kaykay Yan, who worked at JP Morgan for 12 years, joined HSBC Private Banking in Hong Kong as a managing director.

As we noted in March, HSBC’s private bank needs to poach from the likes of JP Morgan if it’s to successfully build out its new ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) team in Asia, which serves clients who have assets of about $30m or more. This means that bankers from the likes of JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs – which have strict client-wealth thresholds and only service the mega rich in Asia (as opposed to mere high-net-worth millionaires) – are now prime candidates for HSBC jobs.

HSBC is expected to announce other senior private banking hires in Hong Kong this month, says a Hong Kong-based headhunter. 

Last year HSBC added 71 relationship managers in Asia, more than any private bank in the region apart from UBS, taking its banker headcount to 541, according to Asian Private Banker.

Image credit: Henning-K90, Getty

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