Moving from Hong Kong to Singapore may be becoming more desirable at the moment as the latter city emerges from Covid restrictions at a far quicker pace, but it’s not always straightforward, especially for those not getting an internal transfer.
Investment bankers still have fewer job options in Singapore, given the smaller size of its capital markets. Junior candidates across all functions will typically struggle to make the move as Singapore tightens salary thresholds for securing Employment Passes (work visas).
But if you’re a Hong Kong private banker with a bulging book of Chinese clients, you’re likely to be welcomed into Singapore with open arms. “Banks in Singapore are adding RMs, and Hong Kong is a natural source of talent,” says a private banking headhunter.
Private banks in the Republic are expanding their China desks to meet growing demand from mainland entrepreneurs who want their investments managed from Singapore.
Among the latest hires is Singapore-based Ruth Chung, who’s just joined BNP Paribas from Pictet as market head of Greater China.
In a statement about her move, BNP Paribas Wealth Management’s APAC CEO Arnaud Tellier said his bank aims to turn its Singapore office into a Hong Kong-style hub for Chinese wealth. “BNP Paribas Wealth Management has very established teams in Hong Kong to serve our Greater China clients, and we are committed to building the same capability in Singapore to complement our unique offering to our clients,” he said.
Other banks are adopting a similar strategy, which bodes well for hiring overall at China desks in Singapore, and by implication for Hong Kong RMs who want to move. When Credit Suisse expanded its North Asia desk in May last year, it split the new hires fairly evenly between Hong Kong – the traditional hub for China coverage – and Singapore.
JPMorgan has previously said that it wants to double the number of China desk RMs in Singapore by this year. Nomura and UBS are also among those hiring to serve mainland clients from Singapore.
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