Morgan Stanley has hired a senior Singapore-based private banker – and tech entrepreneur – from DBS as wealth management hiring as the Republic continues to pick up speed in 2018.
Jeffery Sung joined Morgan Stanley at executive director level, having spent almost 10 years at DBS, latterly as a senior director on the China desk of its private bank, according to his online profile.
He is a rare example of a relationship manager who has successfully transitioned from mass-affluent ‘priority’ banking to serving wealthier private banking clients. Sung worked as an RM in DBS’s mass-affluent Treasures arm – mainly covering Malaysia and Thailand from Singapore – during his first six and a half years at the firm, and only joined the private bank in 2015.
As we reported in August, firms such as DBS, Citi, HSBC and UOB promote a handful of priority bankers each year to private bankers, but headhunters say more than 50% of the transferees can’t handle the increased revenue and client pressures of their new job.
Private banking in Singapore, more so than other front-office functions, enjoyed a strong job market in 2017 and there have been several senior hires so far this year as banks face industry-wide talent shortages. Last month, for example, Sajal Arora joined BNP Paribas from Bank of Singapore as a director covering non-resident Indian clients.
Like other US banks, Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management is not among the more aggressive recruiters in the sector. Its headcount of Asia-based RMs fell from 300 to 247 between 2012 and 2016, according to data from Asian Private Banker. However, Nick Chan, MSPWM’s Asia co-head of sales, said last year that he wanted to hire more RMs in Singapore, and that Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand were the firm’s main focus markets for Singapore-based coverage over the next five years.
Despite the loss of Sung, DBS has been expanding under the leadership of ex-Morgan Stanley banker Tan Su Shan. It acquired the Asian wealth business of ANZ in 2016 and has since attracted high-profile hires, including ex-UBS heavyweight Joseph Poon and former co-head of HSBC private banking in Singapore Rob Ioannou.
In 2016, while still at DBS, Sung and two partners secured $25k in seed funding from the bank for HugProperty, an online platform for fire-sale properties, after making the final of DBS’s Hotspot Pre-Accelerator programme. The initiative is designed to encourage entrepreneurs to pursue their business ambitions but stay employed by the bank. While Sung has left DBS, he is still helping to run the start-up, according to his profile.
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