Awards for Distinction 2021 – Private Banker of the Year

Private Banker of the Year


Morgan Stanley
Private Wealth Management Asia

Private Banker of the Year

Vincent Chui

head of wealth management, Asia Pacific & chief executive

“I am very humbled by this honour. Private banking in Asia is a secular growth sector providing significant opportunities to banks and bankers alike. Working together with my partners and colleagues at Morgan Stanley, I look forward to contributing to the industry in general and to growing our wealth business in particular, and to help build Hong Kong and Singapore into the top private banking hubs in the world.”

Winners rationale

When Vincent Chui presented to Asian Private Banker’s judging panel for the Awards for Distinction 2021, the head of Asia wealth management at Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management Asia (Morgan Stanley PWM Asia) came prepared with a metaphorical — and at times literal — show of strength.

Sat on one side of an elongated table in a cavernous conference room at the Wall Street bank’s Hong Kong office, Chui was flanked by a dozen or so of the key lieutenants and heads of business whom he referred to as partners helping him run one of Asia’s most dynamic private banking operations. His spirited pitch for why Morgan Stanley PWM Asia deserved to be recognised for a clutch of Asian Private Banker’s blue-ribbon awards was punctuated by the occasional desk-thump, underscoring the passion with which Chui pursues his goal of constructing the most comprehensive private banking platform for the region’s UHNWIs.

The Morgan Stanley veteran, who moved from institutional securities to his current role in 2013 and is known for being at his desk before 7am every day, last year oversaw one of the most breath-taking business and investment performances by any private bank in the region. It was all the more remarkable that it came during a period of horrendous market volatility, tightening COVID-19 travel restrictions affecting the key offshore hub Hong Kong, and in tandem with an unrelenting focus on franchise, compliance and risk mitigation.

It was telling of where Chui’s priorities lie that during that energetic pitch for the Awards for Distinction, any mention of top-line performance, AUM growth or investment returns was preceded by his assertion that all of Morgan Stanley PWM Asia’s achievements in 2021 had come with “zero regulatory incidents and franchise risk tolerance”. That commitment to a robust culture of compliance was complemented by the firm’s recent appointment of a former Hong Kong Monetary Authority senior executive to better understand regulators’ policy objectives and expectations so that Morgan Stanley PWM Asia can grow its regional business responsibly and sustainably. Chui’s background as a former member of the Hong Kong government’s administrative service (prior to joining the financial services sector) and his ongoing involvement in public service probably shaped his “Do The Right Thing” mindset too.

There were other facets of the US private bank’s achievements that were extraordinary during the period considered for the Awards for Distinction, which helped Morgan Stanley PWM Asia to secure Best Private Bank – Integrated Platform, Best Private Bank – Asia Pacific UHNW and Best Private Bank – North Asia. At the start of 2021, the bank embarked on a three-year transformational project entitled “PWM 2.0”. Under the guidance of Chui, Morgan Stanley PWM Asia hit more than 50% of its revenue objectives under the programme in less than 12 months.

That was in no small part down to the leadership, market knowledge and difficult decisions made by Chui and his partners during a turbulent year for markets. Morgan Stanley PWM Asia was one of the earliest private banks in the region to recognise and act on the potentially devastating impact on client portfolios of the liquidity challenges at Chinese private real estate companies, particularly the “Three Red Lines” names. The bank quickly commenced discussions with clients to scale back financing and advised clients to trim or hedge positions in relevant high-yield bonds, a favoured asset class among yield-hungry Asian private clients, before the full extent of the turmoil at the developer unfolded and before other private banks reacted with their own financing retreat. Chui characterised the de-risking decision as extremely difficult but “the right thing to do” — and one that undoubtedly proved to have been in clients’ best interests.

That was not the only way in which Chui ensured Morgan Stanley PWM Asia went above and beyond in servicing the bank’s predominantly UHNWI clientele in Asia in 2021. The lender has been one of the most pro-active in terms of resuming regional travel for its relationship managers, reinforcing Morgan Stanley PWM Asia’s commitment to maintaining a high-touch service with its Greater China-focused client base despite rolling lockdowns and unceasing COVID-19 restrictions. In addition to government-mandated quarantines, RMs who wished to travel to prospect and see clients have been subject to an additional work-from-home period to ensure the safety of colleagues and clients.

Finally, and arguably most crucially, is Chui’s abilities in attracting, cultivating and managing senior talent. That is especially vital at an operation such as Morgan Stanley PWM Asia, which operates in the region with a relatively lean front office of 140 RMs. Amid a war for talent in Asia-Pacific, Chui has added selectively and cautiously to his private banker bench rather than focus on numbers, instead concentrating hires on those who are suitable for Morgan Stanley’s culture, can quickly adapt and make the most of Morgan Stanley’s integrated platform spanning its heavyweight investment banking, research and brokerage services.

“We focus on RMs from top tier firms who have established and strong client relationships but who will benefit from our robust integrated platform to fully monetise such relationships and provide holistic services to their key clients, across the spectrum of individual, family and business needs,” Chui recently told Asian Private Banker.

In 2021, Chui set an example to the region’s private banking industry in how to lead with vision, ambition and discipline. For these reasons, he has been recognised as Asian Private Banker’s Private Banker of the Year for 2021.

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