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Credit Suisse and UBS are fighting for the hottest private bankers in Asia

The launch of a new family office unit at Credit Suisse in Hong Kong will generate even more job moves in a sector already enjoying strong levels of hiring. The Swiss bank has set up the team to attract more assets from rich families across Greater China, who are increasingly using family offices to manage investments and succession planning.

Credit Suisse has appointed Tan Mae Shen – a senior specialist for family office services in Asia Pacific, who joined the firm in 2017 – to provide coverage for clients in Greater China, according to a statement from the bank. She is expected to hire more relationship managers from rival banks this year because family office units are typically staffed by people with experience of the sector, say headhunters. RMs who don’t have family office clients won’t cut the mustard.

The problem facing Credit Suisse as it tries to expand is that several of its main rivals are also growing the Asian teams that service family offices (sometimes referred to as intermediaries or external asset manager units). Musical chairs is rife as a result. Last week Pamela Hsu Phua, along with four colleagues, left Julius Baer for Pictet, where she is now heading up a new family office team. But Julius Baer has itself made several recent senior hires into its intermediaries department in Singapore, including Vianne Choo from Vontobel as head of intermediaries for Southeast Asia.

As we reported earlier this month, UBS has appointed Chester Wong, formerly of HSBC, as desk head of global family office in Hong Kong. Morgan Stanley is also currently hiring to service Chinese entrepreneurs establishing family offices in Singapore. The client segment is key to the US firm’s overall expansion plans in Asian private banking, Vincent Chui, head of wealth management in Asia, told Bloomberg in January.

The hiring of family office RMs (and product and investment staff) continues to rise in Hong Kong and Singapore as the number of family offices increases in both cities, says former Merrill Lynch private banker Rahul Sen, now a global leader in private wealth management at search firm Boyden. “Banks in Asia increasingly need to provide dedicated, specialist services for these family offices,” he adds.

Asian billionaires and high-end millionaires are using family offices for services such as investments, charitable giving, taxation and estate planning. As a result, RMs at banks that serve family offices must be able to advise across all these fields, says Sen. “Wealth in Asia is moving from one generation to the next. Banks need to hire senior RMs who understand family offices’ requirements – financial and non-financial – on a deeper and a broader level,” he adds.

Image credit: one2tim, Getty

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AUTHORSimon Mortlock Content Manager

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