HSBC is pushing ahead with plans, first announced in September 2018, to add 400 customer-facing staff to its retail and private bank by 2023, even as it culls 35,000 jobs globally. “We have made good progress with the recruitment, which is on track to meet our growth ambition,” a Singapore-based spokesperson for HSBC told us, without providing further details.
The Asia-focused lender needs new bankers on board to help it meet its goals for assets under management. HSBC reconfirmed this week that it wants to double combined retail and private banking total wealth in Singapore by 2023.
HSBC isn’t just hiring client-facing retail staff in Singapore. Headhunters say much of the recruitment since the 2018 announcement has been into its private bank, which is now housed in its newly created Wealth and Personal Banking global division.
HSBC has made a few senior hires into its Singapore private banking ranks throughout the first half, despite a hiring freeze on most jobs. In June, for example, we reported that ultra-high net worth banker Doreen Tan had joined the firm in Singapore from UOB. Greg Hingston, regional head of wealth and personal banking for APAC, told Reuters in May that HSBC wants to grow its market share in the UHNW segment.
Still, recruiters say that private banking hiring at HSBC in Singapore would have progressed even more rapidly had it not been for the pandemic, which has slowed down interview processes and made relationship managers less inclined to change jobs.
The bank announced in February that it is making 35,000 redundancies globally, predominately in the Global Banking and Markets unit in Europe and the US. HSBC’s hiring in Singapore and across Asia, the region it has targeted for growth under its restructuring plans, is likely to pick up in 2021 once the global job cuts have largely been made, says former HSBC private banker Rahul Sen, now a global leader in private wealth management at search firm Boyden.
While headcount at HSBC’s private bank in Singapore is inching up, CEO Noel Quinn has made HSBC’s wider Asian wealth management franchise a priority for the bank. As announced early this month, the firm is hiring 2,000 to 3,000 wealth planners in Guangzhou and Shanghai by 2024.
HSBC’s headcount of Asia-based relationship managers in its private bank increased 19.2% year-on-year to reach 645 at the end of 2019, the highest organic rise of any top-10 bank in the region, according to Asian Private Banker. HSBC’s private banking assets in Asia stood at $154bn at the end of June, up 8% year-on-year, according to its first half financial results.
The Straits Times reported in June that Singapore – where HSBC’s headcount has risen 10% across all divisions over the past two years to reach about 3,500 – would not be impacted by the bank’s global layoffs this year. HSBC’s private bank yesterday named Ken Ng, a 25-year veteran of the firm, as market head for Singapore.
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