This piece is part of The Final Word series, where top private banking and wealth management heads share their views on industry trends in 2017 and the year to come. Today, the theme is business performance.
For some, asset gathering in 2017 was all about adding to the frontline via key hires, while for others, the focus was on increasing RM productivity and keeping RM numbers capped. Where did you sit on this spectrum?
Lok Yim, head of Asia Pacific, Deutsche Bank Wealth Management
“Given the potential in Asia, wealth management business is considered the growth pillar of Deutsche Bank. 50 out of the 100 client-facing global hires will be based in Asia. We are not in a rush to hire as we are only looking for professionals who are dedicated to the industry and are keen to join our growth journey.
To best serve and protect our client’s interest, we have to build an ecosystem that includes client coverage, products, operations, investments, legal, compliance, technology, etc hence we are not only hiring RMs. We have already got more than 50 new hires on board in Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai across different functions and responsibilities. It’s not just only about asset gathering. We would like to have a quality team which can help clients protect and grow their wealth.”
Michael Blake, CEO private banking Asia, Union Bancaire Privée
“We have seen good growth in the business in 2017, with both new hires and the existing team contributing to this success. We do not set hiring targets or caps; rather, our approach is to work with like-minded RMs who share our vision and commitment to long-term client relationships —we will hire when we believe we have found a good fit.”
Didier von Daeniken, global head, private banking and wealth management, Standard Chartered Bank
“We have been focussed on building a strong team of senior bankers who can identify and support the diverse needs of our clients through market cycles, and we brought in around 60 new frontline colleagues globally this year.
We have also put a strong focus on providing them with digital tools and development opportunities.
We partnered with Thomson Reuters to launch ADVICE 2.0, an industry-first digital advisory tool for our RMs. This tool provides a “one-window” access to our actionable conviction lists across equities, bonds, funds, FX and derivative structured products, as well as the latest news and commentaries. This means that RMs can provide actionable investment advice that is pulled from multiple sources to their clients within minutes.
We are committed to investing in our people and to giving them regular opportunities to upgrade their skills. We have a new industry-leading private banking academy, in partnership with Fitch and INSEAD – both experts in financial education – to make sure all our people are equipped to adapt within the fast evolving private banking industry.”
Pierre Masclet, Asia CEO and Singapore branch manager, Indosuez Wealth Management
“2017 was a turning point for us at Indosuez Wealth Management. We took the opportunity of the competitive dynamics that year by acquiring CIC’s private banking operations in Asia.
Because of our similar cultures and commitment to client service and product excellence, CIC was the natural fit for Indosuez Wealth Management. We will combine our talents and capabilities to strengthen our regional set-up and increase our geographic footprint.
Our complementary product offerings will enable CIC clients to benefit from a Hong Kong booking centre and indeed multiple booking centres globally. In addition, they will benefit from our discretionary portfolio management (DPM), advisory mandates, private equity, wealth structuring and corporate solutions capabilities. On our side, we will be implementing a 24- hour FX desk to service our clients.
The combined resources of the enlarged Indosuez Wealth Management branches in Asia will ensure that our clients receive the personalised service they expect together with the most competitive products, tailored solutions, and pricing models.”
Ong Yeng Fang, managing director and head of private bank, UOB
“UOB has made significant investments in its private banking capabilities in our people, platform and products over the last three years. As a result, the productivity of our relationship managers has doubled since 2014.
We have doubled the number of employees managing the private wealth of our clients. As we have done so, we have remained selective in who we hire, choosing candidates that share the time-tested values of prudence, enterprise, and innovation that the bank has been built upon. As our CEO has said previously, UOB is a bank that focuses on building long-term relationships and on balancing growth with stability. When I am looking for potential candidates I always have this top-of-mind as I assess not only their technical capabilities but also their mindset and values.
Within UOB we also have a process to identify talents from the other parts of the bank and have training and development programmes established to help groom them for a role in private banking.
At the same time, we continue to invest in better technology, products and processes to support our private banking relationship managers so that they become more productive.
For example, we have embarked on a three-year digital transformation programme to enhance our client engagement infrastructure through digitalisation. For our clients, this means having access to personalised and up-to-date information at their fingertips which they can use to make investment decisions with their relationship managers.”
Amy Lo, chairman and head of Greater China, country head, UBS Hong Kong branch, UBS Wealth Management
“Our focus has always been on building a strong team and equipping our people with the tools to give our clients the best.
With our scale and commitment, we have built one of the largest and highest calibre multi-lingual wealth management teams in the region, and have maintained a proven track record in terms of client advisor productivity. Our number of client advisors has remained fairly consistent over the years, but our invested assets have grown by CHF127 billion since 2013.
We constantly seek to equip our client advisors with the best tools to serve our clients, and digitalisation is a key part of our strategy that we invest in. We recently launched a digital hub in Hong Kong, the latest addition to UBS’s digital centres around the world, for clients and prospects to engage, network, and share knowledge with tech start-ups and experts. We also rolled out a new operating platform in Hong Kong and Singapore [in 2017].”
Claude Haberer, Asia CEO, Pictet Wealth Management
“We are a specialised bank and it is important to retain one’s characteristics, such as maintaining a high quality of service through a personal approach. We need to keep numbers somewhat limited and the important thing is to remain faithful to what we are. Two key concepts for Pictet are performance – that is portfolio or investment performance – and quality of service. Accordingly, we choose to grow our number of RMs very selectively and we focus on increasing our share of wallet. When we have happy clients, they give us more money and they introduce friends. In 2017, performance of portfolios was extremely good, even compared to benchmarks, and we have maintained the quality of our service because of the size we are.
In terms of hiring in 2018, we have strategic targets – China, Indonesia and Southeast Asia in general – but in reality, you hire the good talent that comes your way on an opportunistic basis.”