The small bank with big plans to ramp up hiring (and pay) in Singapore and Hong Kong

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Competition for talent in Asian private banking has just got even more intense as yet another bank – Pictet – has announced specific plans to ramp up its headcount in the region.

The Swiss boutique will double its 52-strong front-office headcount in Asia, adding 10 to 15 relationship managers annually (mainly in Singapore and Hong Kong) over the next four to five years, Boris Collardi, managing partner and co-head of private wealth management, told the Business TimesWhile we already knew that Pictet wanted to grow in Asia (APAC chief executive Claude Haberer said as much in April), Collardi has now helpfully fleshed out the numbers.

Collardi’s plans may not sound overly ambitious, but they come as both boutiques and large private banks in Asia are competing for new RMs. Liechtenstein’s VP Bank is taking on a similar number of RMs to Pictet in Asia this year, while Deutsche Bank is recruiting 100 of them by 2021 as it refocuses on wealth management amid global cuts to its investment bank. Adding annual headcount in the low double-digits won’t necessarily be straightforward for a small bank like Pictet in the current market.

Geneva-based Pictet may try to overcome regional skill shortages by offering generous base salaries to bankers from larger platforms in Asia (the likes of Julius Baer, UBS and Credit Suisse), say headhunters. 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.

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 2019 data from recruiters. The average increment for new joiners in the Asian wealth sector is about 15%.

Pay is not the only reason that you might want to take a job at Pictet. You’ll 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.

Pictet has already been hiring in Asia this year. In May, Pamela Hsu Phua, along with four members of her team, left Julius Baer to head up Pictet's new family office team, reports Finews. Last year Pictet took on 18 bankers from Julius Baer in the Middle East. Further poaching from Collardi’s former firm may follow.

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Image credit: adrian825, Getty


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