"Demand for China desk bankers continues to rise in 2021", says Andrew Zee, SVP of Front Office at Selby Jennings on a recent eFinancial Careers interview. “China/Hong Kong/Taiwan tensions have led to North Asia clients wanting to diversify their wealth offshore, and Singapore is the country of choice in Southeast Asia,” he says.
No doubt, we are seeing hyper-growth in the private banking & wealth management space in Singapore. The Singapore government's policies such as VCC has further boosted its attractiveness to Asia's wealth. "There has been an in-flow from North Asia into Singapore since last year," said Zee. An increasing expectation of the potential inflow of Chinese wealth into Singapore is also taking place - Singapore has attractive taxes; as well as being a top-five global financial hub located in the Asian region.
What about Talent?
Demands are spiking, banks are finding it challenging to find talent. Ultra-rich Asians and Chinese citizens eye Singapore's luxury homes. There is an overwhelming volume of China clients coming to Singapore. "The problem is you cannot just speed up the RM production line," said Zee. "RM requires in-depth network and understanding on the client's/China culture and business dealing. Mandarin is also essential when you work with China clients," Zee continued. "Chinese/Mandarin is not the first language in Singapore, and some clients would prefer having it." As a result, there is a lack of talent in Singapore to take over this massive growth client space.
"We are seeing more requests for bringing on onshore Bankers to Singapore to cover the China/North Asia market, but the key issue would be for these bankers to be familiar with the regulations by MAS, and to understand the KYC/Onboarding procedures to ensure that their clients smoothly get onboarded to Private Bank. Private Banks are also continuously looking to improve their client onboarding," Zee continued.
The recent EP issues have led to a slight delay in bringing such talent on board from other countries, making the existing Singapore talent gap even more significant. Hence most banks will be looking to bring Teams/Bankers that are already based in Singapore."
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