Asia 2016 RM Headcount League Table

Asia 2016 RM Headcount League Table

Asia’s (ex-China onshore) private banks welcome 256 new RMs in 2016

In 2016, Asia’s (ex-China onshore) Top 20 private banks by relationship manager (RM) headcount saw their collective frontline increase by 6.9% YoY, from 5,203 to 5,459, following a 50 person net decline in 2015.

UBS Wealth Management once again tops the chart as the region’s largest employer with an army of 1,016 RMs in Asia, despite posting a 7% YoY decrease in total headcount. Rival Credit Suisse Private Banking finished a distant second, rounding out the year with 640 RMs, up 10.3% YoY. The Swiss bank added 30 bankers in the first quarter of 2016 and by Q3, its headcount was 100 RMs higher in YoY terms. HSBC Private Bank held onto its number three ranking with 470 RMs, representing a 6.8% YoY increase.

Asia Relationship Manager Headcount

2016 RankChangeBank20162015201420132012
1-UBS Wealth Management   more info1016109211861032987
  • Publicly reported figures
  • RM numbers include in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, China
2-Credit Suisse Private Banking   more info640580520470470
  • Publicly reported figures
  • RM numbers include those in Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, Japan, India, Switzerland
  • 2015 number was restated by bank
3-HSBC Private Bank   more info470440450450450
  • APB estimates
4 1Bank of Singapore   more info396314310300280
  • APB estimates
5 4Julius Baer   more info380270260239100
  • APB estimates
  • RM numbers include India
6-Standard Chartered Private Bank   more info341300270270270
  • APB estimates
  • RM numbers include India
7 3Citi (incl. Gold, Private Client and Private Bank)   more info325325450450450
  • APB estimates
  • RM numbers include India
8 1DBS (incl. Treasures Private Client and Private Bank)   more info300289267215209
  • APB estimates
  • RM numbers include those that service HNWIs with more than US$1m in investible assets
9 1BNP Paribas Wealth Management   more info270248236213179
  • APB estimates
10 2Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management more info247275275310300
  • APB estimates
  • RM numbers include Australia
11-Deutsche Bank Wealth Management   more info200200200200200
  • APB estimates
  • RM numbers include India
12 3EFG Private Bank   more info140120125105100
  • APB estimates
  • RM numbers include those from BSI Singapore
13-J.P. Morgan Private Bank   more info135135131123120
  • APB estimates
14NEWUOB Private Bank   more info12563N/AN/AN/A
  • APB estimates
15 2LGT   more info10685805959
  • APB estimates
  • RM numbers exclude the Middle East
  • RM numbers exclude those from the ABN AMRO acquisition
16-Goldman Sachs Private Wealth Management   more info9195817065
  • APB estimates
17NEWJ Safra Sarasin   more info7865N/AN/AN/A
  • APB estimates
18NEWIndosuez Wealth Management   more info7260N/AN/AN/A
  • APB estimates
19NEWUnion Bancaire Privee   more info6713N/AN/AN/A
  • APB estimates
  • 2015 figure reflects pre-Coutts acquisition numbers
20 1Hang Seng Private Bank   more info6050403838
  • APB estimates

Total for Top 20 in Each Year

201620152014201320122012-2016 CAGR %2016-2015 YOY %


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The biggest frontline boost was experienced by Union Bancaire Privée (UBP) following its acquisition of Coutts International which closed in 2016. RM numbers at the Swiss pure play jumped 415.4% to 67 – sufficient to rank it 19th in the region.

In terms of organic growth, UOB Private Bank saw an impressive 98.4% increase in its RM headcount, from 63 to 125 in 2016. But it was Julius Baer that took the crown as the industry’s most aggressive hirer last year. The Swiss bank’s RM headcount rose by 40.7% to 380, pushing it from 9th to 5th on the League Table. The Swiss bank added in excess of 100 bankers in Asia alone, and added another floor to its Hong Kong office in the process.

Among the three private banks that saw their RM headcount fall, Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management posted the largest drop, from 275 in 2015 to 247 in 2016.

AUM per RM up
The average AUM per RM for the Top 20 private banks by RM headcount has also increased to US$298.3 million in 2016, up from US$282.4 million in 2015.

Goldman Sachs Private Wealth Management tops the table with US$769.2 million AUM per RM, followed by Citi (US$670.8 million AUM per RM), J.P. Morgan Private Bank (US$503.7 million AUM per RM), Hang Seng Private Bank (US$416.7 million AUM per RM) and Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management (US$287.4 million AUM per RM).

Five hiring trends of 2016

In broad strokes, five hiring trends dominated Asia’s private banking industry in 2016.

Greater China bankers in hot demand
The first half of 2016 saw a high demand for Greater China bankers, with notable talent flows between Julius Baer and Credit Suisse. Julius Baer added David Shick, Edward Chow and Eric Kong, while Credit Suisse claimed veteran banker Stella Kong. Standard Chartered Private Bank made news later in the year with the marquee hire of industry heavyweight Vivian Chan.

Onshore/offshore split
The focus then shifted to Southeast Asia and relationship managers with experience servicing Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand found themselves in hot demand. Even so, many banks struggled to find suitable Singapore-based talent, and instead looked onshore – most notably in the Philippines and Thailand – to poach frontliners from established domestic players to cover the offshore markets.

The global Indians strategy
Arguably the most promising NRI strategy to emerge out of the foreign private banking space has been the ‘global Indians’ concept – effectively a clubbing together of the India onshore and non-resident Indian (NRI) segments. Both BNP Paribas Wealth Management and Julius Baer have adopted the approach on the grounds that it is an effective strategy to service NRI clients with a strong propensity for investing in India as well as Indian HNWIs with families abroad. More recently, Credit Suisse announced that Balakrishnan Kunnambath would oversee its India private banking business, all the while retaining his role as market group head for NRI APAC and Indian sub-continent, based in Singapore.

International desks dismantled
Regulatory pressures – headlined by the OECD’S Common Reporting Standard regime – have prompted private banks to disband their international desks, creating employment headaches for expat bankers in the process. ABN AMRO Private Banking lost its North Asia head of international clients, Feroze Sukh, along with a team to J. Safra Sarasin, and the Dutch private bank subsequently dismantled its Singapore-based international team in August 2016 before being sold to LGT. More recently, UBS Wealth Management launched a foreigners resident desk which, while outwardly similar in concept to an international team desk in the sense that it segments and targets clients from different countries, steers clear of CRS-related woes by servicing Singapore-domiciled clients only.

IAMs lure bankers
The number of private bankers looking to set up or join independent asset managers (IAMs) is on the rise; and given compliance burdens and the decline of transparent, formula-based compensation models, this trend is expected to continue. Notable names from the industry that have gone on to set up their own IAMs in recent times include former Julius Baer heads, Kenneth Ho and Richard Hu. Similarly, three former UBS senior management executives, Peter Tung, Valerie Chou and Johan Riddergard, made headlines when they officially launched Lioncrest Global in Hong Kong last November. Industry reports estimate that the Asia’s IAM industry will more-than-double its AUM to US$55-60 billion by 2020, at a CAGR of nearly 17%.

View the 2016 RM Headcount League Table
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