Job in Singapore, clients in China? Banks are now queuing up to hire you

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Julius Baer in Singapore has just taken on a new China coverage banker from Credit Suisse, in a move that highlights a recent surge in demand for Singapore-based relationship managers focused on mainland clients.

China specialist Kelvin Liu moved to Julius Baer earlier this month at executive director level, following a stint of four and a half years covering China as a Credit Suisse RM, according to his online profile.

Private banks like Julius Baer want to hire more RMs who can win business from wealthy Chinese clients as they increasingly pour money into Singapore. The Republic is the second largest destination, behind Hong Kong, for offshore investments made by the mainland’s booming population of millionaires and billionaires, according to a Capgemini survey.

It's not only Julius Baer that is hiring China coverage bankers. Morgan Stanley’s private bank is focusing much of its new Asian hiring plans on expanding its services for Chinese entrepreneurs wanting to establish family offices in Singapore, Vincent Chui, the US bank’s head of wealth management in Asia, told Bloomberg earlier this month. “Morgan Stanley will definitely be looking for RMs with a good network of Singapore-domiciled Chinese clients, or Chinese clients with the potential to set up family offices here,” says Lucas Yeo, head of banking and finance at recruiters Tangspac in Singapore.

Both local and foreign private banks in Singapore are recruiting more RMs for their North Asia desks, adds Liu San Li, a former private banker, now a business partner at wealth management firm Avallis in Singapore.  “The hiring started slowly in 2014 with firms like UBS, Credit Suisse and Bank of Singapore having two to four China RMs in a typical North Asia team of about 20 people,” he says. “In 2016, more banks – DBS, HSBC, Stan Chart and Julius Baer – joined the game. And now almost all private banks are aggressively hiring China RMs in Singapore. I think we’ll eventually see 50% of North Asia teams in Singapore comprising RMs who just cover the China market.”

New Julius Baer recruit Liu, who has a double degree in economics and artificial intelligence from Peking University, began his career as a product specialist at UBS in Hong Kong.

His move follows a spate of hiring into Julius Baer’s new office in Singapore’s Marina One building. As we reported in October, the bank has taken on Vianne Choo from Vontobel as team head of intermediaries for Southeast Asia. James Tan from Maybank has also joined the same desk in Singapore as a relationship manager. In May, Sundeep Dua joined from Standard Chartered as a director in Julius Baer’s Singapore-based Indian Subcontinent team. And as we noted in August, Sarah Lim, formerly of UBS, joined the investment advisory team at Julius Baer as an executive director.

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Image credit: Nikada, Getty

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