Awards for Distinction 2017 – Best Private Banker of the Year

PRIVATE BANKER OF THE YEAR

RONALD S. LEE, GOLDMAN SACHS

For Asia’s private banking industry to evolve in a healthy and sustainable manner, the current generation of leaders must not fail to impart upon the leaders of tomorrow the virtues of business responsibility, fiduciary duty and reflexivity in thought and action. Above all, the industry requires deft stewardship, and this requires key stakeholders to believe it is necessary to leave their respective businesses in better shape than when they first took the reins.

This is a lofty ideal, but our quest to identify one outstanding private banker that consistently strikes a delicate balance between delivering business performance and shaping industry values yielded a number of worthy contenders – and none more so than Ronald S. Lee, Goldman Sachs’ head of private wealth management in Asia.

Those who have had the good fortune to interact with Lee will attest to the fact that he views himself as a facilitator first and foremost. To quote: “My highest and best use in the business is to make it clear to my colleagues that I’m there to help them succeed and be effective in their primary objective … Our bankers are there to serve the clients, and I’m there to serve the bankers.”

Indeed, during his tenure to date, Lee has fostered a culture of inclusivity and feedback that places the needs of the client at the centre of all activities.

His team, fiercely loyal, are in their own rights outperformers and mirror Lee’s proclivity to defer success to the broader firm, cognisant of the fact that they themselves are only as good as those they depend on to deliver. Such a cascading effect has enormous implications for any business.

In Lee’s case, the overriding concern today is how to remain “interesting” and “important” to clients – a question, that in turn, leads to important conclusions around cultural diversity, both for the firm and the wider industry.

His thesis is that diversity in the workplace has a direct bearing on the firm’s relevance to clients; and thus, beyond delivering financial targets, Lee expends significant time and energy ensuring that Goldman Sachs PWM’s employee profile reflects its rapidly changing client base in Asia (it is no accident that Goldman Sachs PWM has won Asian Private Banker’s Employer of the Year award for three consecutive years, largely on account of the emphasis Lee places on diversity, and it should not go unnoticed that Lee is the firm’s co-chair for Diversity in Asia).

Let us not forget that Lee currently oversees one of Asia’s most successful private banking franchises in terms of growth momentum, going by APB data. But more importantly, Lee has overseen the firm’s transformation in Asia into a wealth advisory provider of the highest order.

Need it be repeated here that few, if any other, private banks in Asia have had more success in impressing upon Chinese clients the importance of delegation than Goldman Sachs? This feat alone is evidence of the strong sense of stewardship that pervades both Goldman’s and Lee’s mission.

On account of Lee’s commitment to advancing the quality of Goldman Sachs PWM’s culture and business – and by extension, setting a positive example for the leaders of today and tomorrow – Ronald Lee is the Private Banker of the Year for 2017.

Ron Lee
Head of Private Wealth Management, Asia Pacific, Goldman Sachs

“We are encouraged by the continued growth of our Asia wealth management business. The progress we’ve made is the result of a collective team effort and we thank Asian Private Banker for this award.”