As large private banks (from UBS to Julius Baer to Standard Chartered) ratchet up their recruitment in Asia, headhunters say two smaller firms are quietly hiring: Indosuez and CIMB.
The banks have already taken on several senior RMs in recent months and headhunters tip them to hire more people this year.
“Both firms are currently targeting bankers at associate director to executive director level,” says Liu San Li, a former Coutts private banker, now client director in private wealth management at search firm EMA Partners in Singapore.
Crédit Agricole Private Bank rebranded as Indosuez Wealth Management in 2016 and it employed 72 RMs in Asia by the end of that year. It has now hired five RMs since January 2017, the most recent of whom, Ezena Mok, joined from ANZ as a senior director earlier this month.
“It hired quite a few bankers from BNP Paribas in 2010-11, but many of them moved in 2016,” says former Merrill Lynch private banker Rahul Sen, now head of wealth management at search firm The Omerta Group. “Indosuez’s current management in Asia are now geared up to increase wallet share and hire senior bankers who will attract more clients.”
Meanwhile, Malaysian firm CIMB has reportedly recruited seven private bankers in Singapore over the last few weeks.
“CIMB has a strong consumer lending business in Southeast Asia, so it’s natural for it to now try to attract high-net-worth bankers and clients too,” says Sen. “And its existing HNW clients on-shore in Malaysia will have off-shore assets and accounts in Singapore, so hiring in Singapore is an automatic starting point.”
But why join either of these firms, given that both rank outside the top-20 for assets under management in Asia?
“Compared to the big private banks, there’s a leaner structure, much less red tape and less pressure to meet KPIs for AUM and revenue,” says Liu.
Unlike most boutique private banks, CIMB and Indosuez offer clients access to investment banking services within their wider groups. CIMB ranked fourth for Southeast Asia IBD fees in the first quarter, according to Dealogic.
“Indosuez has corporate and investment banking expertise from Credit Agricole. That’s how it can differentiate itself to RMs looking to join,” says Liu.
Neither firm places strict limits on which countries their RMs can cover. “They’re not too fussed about market purity and therefore could attract bankers who need an open-skies policy,” says Sen.
Indosuez will want bankers who can bring in a minimum of $70m in assets per year, he adds.
There are potential downsides to joining these banks, however.
“Indosuez is still not that well-known a name to some Asian clients, while other clients might have qualms about CIMB because it’s a Malaysian bank,” says Liu.
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