Wed, Sep 05, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Wealth manager pay skyrockets in Asia

‘CRAZY RICH ASIANS’:The region last year saw nearly 2,000 new millionaires every day, but Singapore and Hong Kong likely only have 10,000 relationship managers


Competition to manage the money of Asia’s burgeoning army of millionaires has pushed pay hikes for wealth managers to the highest in more than a decade.

Those willing to jump to a rival are getting increases of 30 percent or more in Hong Kong and Singapore, private bankers and recruiters say.

“It’s a crazy market,” said Derrick Tan (陳學彬), head of Greater China and North Asia at the Bank of Singapore, the private bank of Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp, which aims to double the number of relationship managers it has in Hong Kong and Singapore within two years.

“Every day, we’re still discovering new high-net-worth clients,” he said.

The two places, the region’s biggest private banking hubs, probably have fewer than 10,000 licensed relationship managers, according to Credit Suisse Group AG, the region’s third-largest private bank.

Last year, almost 2,000 new millionaires were minted every day in the region, Capgemini SE data showed.

“For a huge market like this, it’s certainly not enough. That’s why we are seeing a talent war,” said Amy Lo (盧彩雲), a 30-year veteran of the industry and head of Hong Kong’s Private Wealth Management Association. “It won’t be easy to retain people when they can easily get a 20 to 30 percent premium and an upgrade in title.”

Seven out of 10 wealth clients in Asia are entrepreneurs, and as they hand over the reins to the next generation, the demand for expertise to manage the family’s investments is growing, said Lo, who is also UBS Group AG’s head of wealth management for Greater China.

On average, a relationship manager at a major bank last year handled US$341 million in assets under management (AUM), according to Asian Private Banker.

Those who change employer typically bring with them up to half the assets they manage for clients, bankers and recruiters said.

“AUM means everything,” said Geoffrey Bevan, practice leader for private banking in Hong Kong at recruiter Asia Carbon Search. “Banks make a significant amount of money on the AUM, so they’ve got the ability to pay. Anybody who is a top performer with strong AUM and return on assets is going to be in demand and people are willing to pay for that.”

Base salary increases can be from 30 to 45 percent, Bevan said.

“This is the biggest increment that I’ve seen in 10 years,” he added.

Most acute is the demand for Mandarin Chinese speakers. China is Asia’s fastest-growing market with about 1.2 million millionaires, most of whom are new to the world of private banking. Many keep assets in Hong Kong and Singapore, where they often own property or businesses and even send their children to school.

In Singapore, the setting for the movie Crazy Rich Asians, more than one-third of the private condos sold to foreigners since 2013 were bought by Chinese.

One Mandarin speaker with a few years of experience as a private banker said they enjoyed a 30 percent pay jump when moving to another firm in Singapore, which is expanding its offshore China team.

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