Private banks want you - but not if you're inexperienced

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Singapore is crying out for private banking talent. But how easy is it to get into the industry if you're not a private banker already?

According to recruiters, not very easy at all. Matthew Hoyle, Asia-Pacific director at search firm Matthew Hoyle International, says it's "very unusual" for someone with no industry experience to get hired as a private banker (relationship manager - RM - or client advisor - CA) immediately: "Traditionally, most people with zero experience start as an assistant RM or assistant CA." He adds that, as assistant private bankers, they do have some client contact, but don't originate clients or handle important decisions.

Candidates for true private banker roles need have either existing clients that will move with them or a proven track record of attracting new business, says Hoyle, with the latter being the most important. He cautions that, in order to successfully transfer clients, an RM should spend at least five years or more with each firm.

In higher-end roles with managerial responsibilities, such as desk head, you will see candidates moving over from investment banking, Hoyle says.

But banks could become more open to hiring inexperienced people in the future. One Singapore-based recruitment manager at an international investment bank says HR departments are trying to drive home the message that, because of chronic shortages in the city-state, banks should be more open to hiring people without private banking experience. He says young entrepreneurs who already have good business contacts are a potentially good talent pool.

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