Asia 2017 RM Headcount League Table
Asia RM headcount growth remains steady at 7% in 2017
Asia’s Top 20 private banks by relationship manager (RM) headcount excluding China onshore collectively increased their frontline by 7% in 2017, maintaining 2016’s growth momentum and bringing the region’s total Top 20 RM number to 5,843.
UBS Wealth Management, Asia’s largest player by assets under management (AUM), is also the biggest employer of private bankers, with 1,037 client advisors or RMs in the region, although net additions in 2017 were minimal (+2% YoY), following a 7% drop in 2016.
Rival Credit Suisse, meanwhile, shaved its frontline headcount in 2017 by 8%, rounding out the year with 590 RMs in Asia. The decline was the largest recorded by any bank in the Top 20, and came as the Swiss major pursued a productivity drive, as evidenced by a 34% YoY increase in its AUM per RM.
Asia (ex-China onshore) RM headcount
The Singaporean triumvirate of DBS, Bank of Singapore and UOB ranked among the most active hirers in 2017. With 144 RMs in 2017, UOB Private Bank posted an increase of 15% following a 98% jump in 2016, while DBS, which acquired ANZ’s retail and wealth unit in five Asia markets, grew its frontline by 18%. Bank of Singapore recorded a net addition of 34 RMs, bringing its total in Asia to 430, up almost 9%.
Acquisitions had a marked impact on the frontline numbers. Those banks that concluded an M&A transaction in 2017 grew their combined RM headcount by 26% versus a 4% increase for the balance of the Top 20. LGT’s purchase of ABN AMRO’s Asia and Middle East private banking business contributed to an 88% increase to its RM headcount, from 106 in 2016 to 199 in 2017, pushing the pure play up to 12th in the rankings. Indosuez Wealth Management recorded a 79% leap in the number of private bankers it employs in Asia, following its acquisition of CIC’s Hong Kong and Singapore business. And EFG, which bought BSI, bulked out its Singapore office in particular, raising its total RM headcount in Asia by 18% YoY to 109.
Predictably, recruiters in Hong Kong and Singapore spoken to by Asian Private Banker cited the region’s largest players as the most active hirers in 2017.
“Most banks are still hiring as they’re looking to grow AUM. Banks such as UBS, Credit Suisse and LGT have been significant hirers over the last year,” said Jonathan Hollands, managing director at Carraway Group. Others pointed to Julius Baer and Bank of Singapore as major hires in 2017.
In terms of seniority, directors with eight-to-nine years of experience were the most sought after, according to Amod Jain, regional lead, private banking at Morgan McKinley. Executive directors, while in great demand, are typically scarcer. Further, Hollands observed that private banks in Asia have cut back on hiring at the managing director level for cost reasons.
Chinese bankers are also in hot demand given the country’s swelling wealth pool.
“The shift to Chinese nationals is because [private banks] figure it is much more effective to manage and develop the Chinese network with people who intimately understand the unique business culture and behaviours of Chinese clients,” said Liu San Li, head of banking at BTI Executive Search Singapore.
Similarly, Norris Wong, senior consultant in banking at Hays Hong Kong, pointed out that the hiring focus remains “centred” on the Greater China market given its strategic importance in the region.
Elsewhere in the region, the Philippines and Thailand markets have been hotbeds for hiring, although quality talent onshore remains in short supply. Even so, a number of recruiters pointed to the steady stream of domestic bankers in both countries being shifted to Singapore to oversee their respective markets.
Average AUM per RM hits US$341 million
RM productivity, as a measure of average AUM per RM, increased in 2017, with the average book size per RM climbing 14% from US$298.3 million in 2016 to US$341 million last year.
Goldman Sachs Private Wealth Management, which focuses on the ultra high net worth segment, continues to top the rankings with AUM per RM of US$988.6 million, up from US$769.2 million in 2016. At the same time, the bank saw net decline in its RM numbers of 3%, to 88 in 2017.
Fellow American players, Citi (incl. Gold, Private Client and Private Bank) and J.P. Morgan Private Bank round out the top three, both recording AUM per RM increases, with the latter’s number jumping 25% to US$629.6 million in 2017 even as net hires at the private bank remained flat.
Elsewhere, Julius Baer, whose heaving hiring in 2016 contributed to a substantial asset inflow with new joiners transferring over 65% of their books on average, grew AUM per RM by 33% YoY to US$287.5 million, while CMB Private Banking, a new entrant to the table, boasted AUM per RM of US$453.1 million, an increase of 25%.
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2017 AUM per RM (US$ million)
|Rank||Bank||YoY % change in AUM per RM||2017 AUM||2017 RM||2017 AUM per RM (US$ mn)|
|1||Goldman Sachs Private Wealth Management||28.5%||87.0||88||988.6|
|3||J.P. Morgan Private Bank||25.0%||85.0||135||629.6|
|4||CMB Private Banking||25.5%||36.7||81||453.1|
|5||Hang Seng Private Banking||7.3%||31.3||70||447.1|
|6||UBS Wealth Management||30.9%||382.7||1037||369.0|
|7||BNP Paribas Wealth Management||32.6%||97.4||268||363.4|
|8||Credit Suisse Private Banking||33.9%||202.1||590||342.6|
|9||Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management||19.1%||102.0||298||342.3|
|10||Pictet Wealth Management||30.6%||16.0||50||320.1|
|14||HSBC Private Banking||19.4%||129.0||470||274.5|
|15||UOB Private Bank||15.3%||34.3||144||237.9|
|16||Deutsche Bank Wealth Management||-0.8%||58.8||250||235.2|
|17||Bank of Singapore||15.4%||99.0||430||230.2|
|18||J. Safra Sarasin||12.4%||19.2||87||220.5|
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