Deutsche Bank is looking to poach private bankers from tier-one rivals in Asia, despite its plummeting share price and a firm-wide cost-cutting drive.
The German bank announced last month and reconfirmed this week that it will hire 25 relationship managers (RMs) a year in Singapore and Hong Kong over the next five years as part of plans to become a top-five global wealth manager by 2020.
These hires will not be made on the cheap, however. Elite senior RMs at Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, UBS, Credit Suisse and Citi are at the top of Deutsche’s target list, says a Singapore headhunter with knowledge of the firm.
RMs who move between large banks in Asia can easily command pay rises of 15% to 30%.
“Deutsche Bank in general isn’t interested in recruiting less expensive RMs from tier-three private banks – it’s focused on getting the better RMs with strong books, especially at director level,” says the headhunter.
“For this Asian hiring DB wants bankers and clients who need access to global markets,” adds former Merrill Lynch private banker Rahul Sen, now head of wealth management at search firm The Omerta Group in Singapore. “That means mainly bankers from the likes of CS, UBS and J.P. Morgan, which have corporate finance and investment banking platforms.”
Deutsche may find it especially challenging to hire its first crop of 25 RMs over the next 12 months.
“The DB Group has incurred losses and laid off lots of staff recently,” says the anonymous headhunter. “So right now RMs are cautious about joining, even though most of the redundancies didn’t affect RMs. But like other banks with traditionally solid brands, over time DB will be able to attract good talent.”
“In Asian wealth DB has a strong platform and a good reputation, which will help hiring in the long term,” says Josie Ling, head of private wealth management at search firm Eban in Singapore.
Adding a sizeable number of extra staff – Deutsche currently only has 200 RMs in Asia – also shows prospective candidates that the firm is committed to Asian private banking, she adds.
“It’s a nice change given that Barclays Wealth – Deutsche's European rival who also built out a wealth business in Asia – recently decided to take the opposite tack and sell themselves to Bank of Singapore,” says Ling.
Unlike in global investment banking, Deutsche’s Asian wealth unit is seen as “stable”, says Sen from Omerta Group. “It hasn’t lost any major clients or bankers in Asia over the last few years in spite of not hiring much until now. And the APAC wealth management head, Ravi Raju, is a dynamic leader and is very well connected.”
Some of the 125 new hires will be high-net-worth bankers, looking after clients with assets in the $5m to $20m range. Deutsche announced last month that it would start serving this segment in Asia, having previously focused only on the ultra-high market whose customers breach the $20m mark.