Large but “risk averse” bank still making senior hires in Singapore

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Large but “risk averse” bank still making senior hires in Singapore

Julius Baer is quietly adding relationship managers in Singapore this year, although it has not returned to the heady hiring it experienced under former CEO Boris Collardi, who left in late 2017.

Among the latest recruits in Singapore is Bipin Jacob Mathew, who joined earlier in June as a director, having previously been with Standard Chartered since 2016. His move follows the hire this month of Rahul Malhotra as head of global India and developed markets. Malhotra, formerly a leading JP Morgan banker, has a remit that includes helping to drive Julius Baer’s substantial ambitions on the subcontinent.

Julius Baer will make further “selective and senior” appointments in both Singapore and Hong Kong this year, says a private banking headhunter. The firm did not respond to a request to comment. JB employed 422 RMs in Asia at the end of 2020, giving it the third largest RM headcount in the region, according to data from Asian Private Banker (APB). Only Swiss rivals UBS and Credit Suisse have more bankers. “JB has reached a critical mass now. It’s recruiting, but can afford to be selective and attract big names like Malhotra. It’s become more risk averse since Boris Collardi left,” adds the headhunter.

Under Collardi, Julius Baer grew its headcount of Asia-based relationship managers at a compound annual growth rate of 13.4% between 2014 and 2018, the second highest rate in the region, according to APB. This level of hiring has slowed since current CEO Philipp Rickenbacher took charge in 2019.

In 2021, JB’s hiring is focused on senior director level, says former private banker Liu San Li, who now works as a recruiter. Unlike European pure-play private banks such as Pictet, EFG, Safra Sarasin, UBP, and VP Bank – which all rate outside the top-10 firms by AUM in Asia – Julius Baer is able to attract RMs on the strength of its asset base and product suite, rather than via huge pay increases. Julius Baer’s regional AUM increased 15.2% to $150bn last year, making it the fifth largest firm in Asia by assets, ABP data reveals.

“JB’s AUM and RM workforce size is now much bigger than that of a medium-sized private bank. It has comprehensive private banking product offerings and has quite a large team of various investment and product specialists. For RMs who’d like to work for a bank that focuses purely on private wealth management, JB could be a good choice,” says Liu.

New joiners will need to get used to Julius Baer’s new remuneration programme, which it introduced earlier this year. The bank is more closely linking profitability to bonuses under a single compensation scheme that replaces two separate plans, including one that rewarded bankers heavily for bringing in fresh assets. The revamp, which was announced by Rickenbacher last year following sanctions by Swiss regulator Finma, will benefit RMs who are strong in revenue but weaker in AUM, and also RMs who do well in both categories, an industry expert told us previously. “We want our relationship managers to occupy themselves with sustainable profitability of the bank to a degree that simply wasn’t that relevant to them before,” Rickenbacher told finews.com.

Image: unsplash

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