Bruce Alter is settling into his new role at Wachovia as a director and Asian branch marketing manager after leaving JPMorgan in early September. Alter ran JPMorgan's trade finance business in the region for just over three years before making the move.
He says he was attracted to Wachovia because of its niche expertise. "Wachovia is always a name that comes up in trade finance conversations in the region," he says. "It 's a bank that is very strong in certain products and services, particularly in providing insourcing, technology solutions and doing trade processing for bank clients in key Asian locations."
Wachovia keeps a low profile, but is a significant player in global trade, particularly as a bank for bankers. "Our clients are mostly large Asian domestic banks and foreign institutions operating in the region, especially European banks," he continues. "We also do some traditional trade business for US multinationals."
One of its biggest businesses is re-issuing letters of credit for global retailers from its Hong Kong office.
Wachovia has branches in Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo and Taipei, and in July opened a branch office in Shanghai. Its trade business is run out of Hong Kong where the global head of the business, Steve Nichols, is located. Alter reports to Ben Kinnas, general manager of the Shanghai branch and regional head of trade.
A long-time trade banker, Alter has been in Asia for 13 years, first with Citigroup in the Philippines and Taiwan where he held sales roles in trade and cash management. He then joined JPMorgan and spent six years with that bank, originally as a marketing manager for greater China and then in the trade role. He speaks fluent Mandarin and will eventually relocate from Singapore to Hong Kong.