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Top Asian private bankers are flocking to BNP Paribas WM: Lemuel Lee explains why

Lemuel Lee, BNP Paribas WM
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BNP Paribas Wealth Management (BNP Paribas WM) Asia has started the year hiring another seasoned banker, continuing a run of high-profile appointments in 2023.

“Over the past few years, we have been steadily and carefully expanding our workforce to support the positive growth of our business,” Lemuel Lee, head of wealth management Hong Kong site at BNP Paribas WM, told Asian Private Banker.

Lee added that his Hong Kong site team has recruited about 20 seasoned relationship managers (RMs) over the past year. “While we don’t have specific hiring targets, we seize opportunities to bring in the right talents and teams at optimal budgets or favourable costs.”

With a comparable one-bank and product offering model, BNP Paribas became a natural destination for many ex-Credit Suisse bankers last year. Luke Chiu and Martin Loh are among the well-known bankers who joined the French bank from Credit Suisse.

On top of that, BNP Paribas WM Hong Kong also hired senior bankers from top-tier players such as Morgan Stanley and Citi Private Bank.

NameNew titleOld firmOld titleBased in
Louis Chanmanaging director and market leader for the China teamBank of Singaporemarket head for Greater ChinaHong Kong
Calvin Hungsenior private bankerCredit Suissemanaging director, RM, for Credit Suisse China market Hong Kong
Martin LohChina market headCredit SuisseGreater China market group headHong Kong
Kate Linhead of wealth management TaiwanStandard Charteredhead of consumer, private & business bankingTaiwan
Daniel PeterCEO for wealth management ThailandCredit Suisseteam leader wealth managementThailand
Pawan Amornprayoonteam head, senior relationship managerCredit Suissesenior relationship managerThailand
Tiffeny Situmanaging director covering the China marketMorgan StanleyN/AHong Kong
Wendy Chanmanaging director covering the China marketCitiN/AHong Kong
Angela Yangsenior private bankerMorgan StanleyN/AHong Kong
Vicky Linsenior private bankerBank of SingaporeN/AHong Kong

While some private banks have been reducing headcount, such as UBS and Citi, BNP Paribas WM has been expanding its team.

According to people familiar with the matter, this week Peter Chan, a former Credit Suisse and Julius Baer senior banker, joined the French lender as a managing director, senior RM.

Peter Chan was among the last batch of Credit Suisse senior bankers in Hong Kong who left along with Rickie Chan at the end of 2023. BNP Paribas confirmed the appointment of Peter Chan.

“We believe in investing in our areas of strength, therefore, despite the challenges faced by the industry, we have consistently prioritised investments in our people,” Lee said.

Why BNP Paribas WM?

To Lee, BNP Paribas WM’s focus is to “prioritise hiring top talents who align with the bank’s culture.”

When asked why the French bank is, in his view, the preferred bank for senior RMs in the region, Lee believes the bank differentiates itself with its “reputation, award-winning platform and career development”.

“We are one of the banks in Asia that can onboard new clients efficiently and offer the most comprehensive and best-in-class solutions leveraging our one-bank capabilities,” he said.

“We believe that recruitment is a two-way process. It is not only about us seeking quality talents who fit into our culture but also about understanding their needs and career ambitions. By offering a supportive and fulfilling work environment, we strive to attract and retain the best talents in the industry,” Lee asserted.

For 2024, Lee highlighted the bank does not have a specific hiring target, but affirmed its approach will be “to seize opportunities when we come across talented individuals or teams that align with our organisation’s needs.”

“We have been steadily and selectively hiring to support the steady growth of our business in particular across our key markets in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. We remain committed to finding and attracting the right talent to drive our company forward,” he added.

BNP Paribas WM in 2023 also reported a strong year for wealth management performance, with its FY23 revenue and pre-tax income up 6% and 10%, respectively.

Recognising and nurturing talent

As well as hiring externally, BNP Paribas has an internal wealth management talent programme to enhance and support talent development.

Samir Bimal, BNP Paribas

BNP Paribas WM’s chief transformation officer for APAC, Samir Bimal, shared with Asian Private Banker that the French bank’s talent management continuum spans across acquisition, development, progression, and retention.

“To further support and enhance the various initiatives aimed at our talents, we set up a dedicated People Development team three years ago,” Bimal said. He explained that the team works closely with the business heads and HR partners to execute leadership development and employee engagement initiatives that enhance the bank’s reputation as a good place to work.

“We regularly provide our bankers with opportunities to develop their leadership skills and engage with senior management. Structured initiatives, such as manager engagement forums and leadership programmes, are implemented to facilitate this,” he added.

“We recognise that strong bankers, when deciding to join or stay, seek a platform that can add value to their client relationships and enable their long-term professional growth. For individuals with the right mindset, we strive to showcase the strength of our organisation.”

One of the ways the French bank achieves this is through its own Exemplar Award Programme, which serves as a means to acknowledge and appreciate exceptional contributions made by its employees, while also promoting a culture of recognition throughout the business in Asia.

Bimal said the bank has seen a YoY rise in nominations for the programme, with last year up 56%.

“The quality of nominations of exemplary behaviours has also grown. The Exemplar Award isn’t the only means of recognising our people – the goal is that it also encourages more and more colleagues to demonstrate the innovation, client excellence, and collaboration across WM APAC that will help the business grow,” said Bimal.

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