FINANCIAL SERVICES | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

Hong Kong and Singapore private banks wage war for wealth managers to lure Asia's crazy rich

Banks are willing to offer pay hikes between 30-45% to secure the best talent.

Bloomberg reports that private banks across the region are scrambling to manage the assets held by Asia’s growing ultra wealthy and are rolling out increasingly generous compensation packages to lure and retain top talent.

This is especially true for Hong Kong and Singapore which are the region’s private banking hubs but have less than 10,000 licensed relationship managers, according to data from the Credit Suisse.

Also read: Hong Kong loses to Singapore in managing the assets of the world's wealthy

However, almost 2,000 new millionaires are minted every day in the region, according to Capgemini’s wealth report, which adds to the growing evidence of talent shortages across private banks, pushing recruiters to roll out base salary increases from 30 to 45%.

With 1,400 individuals with a net worth of over US$50m, Singapore has emerged as the wealthiest city in Asia and fifth in the world, according to Knight Frank’s 2018 City Wealth Index. Hong Kong, on the other hand, is the third richest city in Asia and ninth globally. Together with China, the SAR is home to 5,140 individuals who are worth over US$50m in 2017, which accounts for 14.33% of Asia’s ultra-wealthy population.

“For a huge market like this, it’s certainly not enough. That’s why we are seeing a talent war,” said Amy Lo, 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.”

Also read: Hong Kong is the second largest offshore center

Private banker bonuses in Singapore rose by an estimated 5-7% in 2017 with the top performing players receiving 60-40% cash and stock/shares as part of their bonus packages, according to an earlier interview by Rahul Sen of The Omerta Group.

Global high-net worth wealth is increasingly being directed to Asia with private banking assets surging 40.3% in 2016 to 2017 compared to the assets held by international private banks which grew only 27.1% over the same period, according to data compiled by Asian Private Banker.

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