Singapore private banks forced to hire retail RMs as talent shortages bite

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Singapore private banks forced to hire retail RMs as talent shortages bite

Singapore private banks are turning toward retail banking talent to fill relationship management roles due to a shortage of RMs within the sector.

While private banks have always hired some RMs from mass-affluent retail banking (otherwise known as privilege or premiere banking), this flow of talent is increasing in 2022. Asia’s largest two private banks, UBS and Credit Suisse, are this year expanding their high-net-worth (HNW) units, which serve low-level millionaires and are therefore more welcoming to retail RMs than their ultra-high-net-worth teams.

“Most of the talent searches [in private banking] target associate directors within the retail banking arena as they would have the right client and skills match needed for the private banking sector,” says Josh Goh, senior manager of banking and financial services at Randstad Singapore.

More specifically, Goh has a growing demand for retail offshore relationship managers from Greater China teams within the private banking sector, with banks like HSBC, UBS and Credit Suisse looking to grow their client portfolio of affluent Chinese customers.

Several of these banks have also created new asset segments of between S$3m and $10m targeting the ASEAN market.

To help facilitate this, private banks are eyeing experienced retail relationship managers who have an expansive client portfolio, as well as the skills to attract and retain new clients.

“When relationship managers move up the ranks, they may only get to onboard 30% to 40% of their client portfolios to the new segment,” says Goh. “It is hence essential for bankers to know how to navigate the channels independently to rebuild their client base in the new segment.”

Relationship managers who are looking to make the leap into the HNW segment would also need to have a strong appreciation for investments, influential business development skills and forward-looking insights into macro-environment movements, adds Goh.

These skills are essential for managers to thoroughly understand and solve their HNW clients’ needs and problems, which have expanded to include alternative investments, tax and wealth planning and life insurance.

Depending on the market segment that they will service, relationship managers who are proficient in a second Asian business language in are also sought after by private banks.

Although some private banks have frozen their headcount growth for the next four to six months due to macroeconomic factors, this has not deterred relationship managers who are still deciding their career moves based on an institution’s presence and commitment to the region, says Goh.

“We expect this level of talent demand for relationship managers to continue through the rest of the year, as employers continue to focus on ambitious ‘upgraders’ who are looking to advance to another banking segment,” adds Goh.

Photo by Y K on Unsplash

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