Expanding Swiss bank staffs up in Singapore’s “most instagrammable” building

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Infinity swimming pool of the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.

Julius Baer has made another senior hire in Singapore as it continues to staff up its new office within the state-of-the-art Marina One complex.

Industry veteran James Tan has joined the expansionist Swiss bank as a director-level relationship manager on its intermediaries desk, following a brief stint as a client advisor at Maybank Private Wealth. Prior to that, Tan spent two and a half years leading an investment advisory team for ultra-high net worth clients at HSBC Private Bank, according to his online profile.

At Julius Baer, Tan is now an RM to external asset managers (EAM), a rapidly expanding sector in Asia that includes family offices and other firms making investments into banks on behalf of wealthy clients. In 2017 there were 160 EAMs in Singapore and Hong Kong, collectively managing $91.5bn in private wealth, according to Asian Private Banker.

While EAMs are themselves poaching private bankers for in-house jobs, Julius Baer and rivals such as UBS and Credit Suisse are growing their teams that service EAMs. Competition to hire people like Tan is heating up as a result. Sascha Zehnter, Credit Suisse’s APAC head of EAMs, told Citywire in June that his team is looking to grow its headcount in Hong Kong and Singapore following 40% revenue growth in 2017.

Julius Baer, meanwhile, has been growing its workforce in Singapore beyond its EAM desk. During the first quarter, for example, it hired DBS banker Laurent Chevalley as a managing director and senior advisor, and recruited Winston Teo from Bank of Singapore as Southeast Asia team head. In May, Sundeep Dua joined from Standard Chartered as a director in Julius Baer’s Singapore-based Indian Subcontinent team. And as we reported last month, Sarah Lim, formerly of UBS, has joined the investment advisory team at Julius Baer as an executive director.

These recent hires are now based in Julius Baer’s office within the $5.1bn Marina One business and residential development, which opened earlier this year and has been widely acclaimed as one of the most instagrammable places in Singapore thanks to its urban-oasis architecture and skybridges decked out in tropical greenery.

Between 2015 and 2017, Julius Baer’s headcount of Asia-based RMs shot up by 130 to reach 400 – the largest increase of any private bank not involved in an acquisition during that period. Its new office, which at 100,000 square feet is more than 40% larger than its previous one, suggests more expansion is on the cards in Singapore. Julius Baer employs about 800 people in the Republic (including non-RM staff), but its Marina One site can accommodate up to 1,000, according to Finews Asia.

Tan began his career in 1996 at Citi and then moved to Salomon Smith Barney in 2000 and Credit Suisse in 2005. Before joining HSBC in 2013 he worked for about two years at DBS as a director, latterly helping to run its family office.

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Image credit: zhudifeng, Getty

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