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Why Asian private banks can't stop hiring

Investment banking hiring in Singapore and Hong Kong has had its ups and downs over the past couple of years: tanking in 2020, recovering in 2021, and declining (along with IB revenue) this year.

The job market in Asian private banking, by contrast, has been far more consistent. Even during Covid circuit breakers and quarantine crackdowns, relationship managers serving the region’s rich remained in demand. Credit Suisse, for example, added 20 relationship managers in Asia  in Q1 2020. And even as HSBC froze most of its hiring in March 2020, it continue to invest in its private banking business in Asia.

By February the following year, HSBC was announcing a $3.5bn investment into wealth management and private banking. And even as new Covid waves came and went in 2021, private banks – from Julius Baer and UBP, to Citi and UBS – kept on hiring front-office talent.

In a corporate LinkedIn post earlier this week, Pictet managing partner François Pictet confirmed this trend. “It is true for the whole group, but even more so in Asia, that a good number of our employees have joined us since the COVID-19 pandemic started – roughly 2,500 employees or half the group joined us in the past five years,” he said.

Pictet may be at the extreme end of Covid-period hiring, but recruiters say it’s not alone.

“The high-net-worth population isn’t standing still in Asia, so if banks didn’t hire during the worst years of Covid, they risked being left behind,” said a Singapore-based private banking headhunter. “Now we’re coming out of Covid, hiring isn’t picking up that much, because it was always strong,” he adds.

If you want to work at Pictet in Singapore, you may want to cover the Indonesian market. “I was in Jakarta last month and I found it a fascinating city, very energetic and booming,” Mr Pictet wrote on LinkedIn. “Indonesia has a huge economy, a population as big as the US, the right demography, plenty of opportunities – so it's one country to watch.”

AUTHORSimon Mortlock Content Manager

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