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Substantial pay rises for private bankers at this growing bank in Singapore and Hong Kong

If you’re a private banker in Singapore or Hong Kong, you’re no doubt aware of the large-scale hiring happening in your sector. UBS added 101 relationship managers in Asia last year, while HSBC recently started a recruitment drive to add about 650 new staff (including RMs) in Asian private banking. Even Deutsche Bank hired 30 private bankers in 2018, despite the problems afflicting its business globally.  

If you want to move to a new private banking job and land an above-average pay rise, however, you may need to look beyond the big firms and consider joining a small pure-play private bank, many of which are recruiting in Hong Kong and Singapore.

The latest bank to announce that it will grow its Asian headcount this year is…Pictet. The Geneva-based firm will add RMs in Hong Kong to tap the expanding Chinese wealth market, Pictet APAC chief executive, Claude Haberer, told Fund Selector Asia, without providing numbers. It will also recruit in Singapore, primarily adding RMs to its Indonesia desk.

This hiring now appears to have begun. Pamela Hsu Phua, along with four members of her team, has just left Julius Baer to head up Pictet's new family office team, reports Finews. Pictet's co-head of global wealth management, Boris Collardi, is the former CEO of Julius Baer – and further poaching from JB in Asia may follow. Last year Pictet took on 18 bankers from Julius Baer in the Middle East.

Joining Pictet could be lucrative in terms of your base salary, say headhunters. To attract RMs from larger platforms in Asia (the likes of JB, UBS and Credit Suisse), Pictet will potentially need to open its wallet, especially when hiring senior bankers who may lose long-term clients because of the move.

Top-performing senior RMs could secure pay rises of up to 30% if they join Pictet, says former Merrill Lynch private banker Rahul Sen, now a global leader in private wealth management at search firm Boyden.

Similar salary rises are on offer at other expansionist boutique private banks in Asia, such as VP Bank and UBP. If you’re at executive director level in Singapore, for example, that kind of salary increase could give you an extra S$122k a year on top of your current S$408k salary, according to a pay table we compiled using data from recruiters. The average increment for new joiners in the sector is about 15%.

Pay is not the only reason that you might want to take a job at Pictet. You will also be getting in the door just as the bank’s business potentially takes off in Asia. Pictet’s rather dull reputation among private bankers in the region first began to change in November 2017 with the surprise appointment of Collardi, who previously oversaw Julius Baer’s dramatic growth across Asia. “Collardi has always loved Asia, so therefore as a bank, Pictet will focus on growth in Asia,” says Sen.

Still, you shouldn’t expect getting a job at the Swiss bank to be straightforward. Pictet currently only employs about 57 RMs in Asia, and APAC CEO Haberer has said that this year’s hiring won’t be overly aggressive.

Meanwhile, if you do move to Pictet, taking a big pay rise could backfire. Boutiques like Pictet aren’t adverse to cutting expensive new bankers on big salaries, if they don’t meet their year-one revenue targets.

Image credit: franckreporter, Getty

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AUTHORSimon Mortlock Content Manager

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