Private bank BSI Asia's head of North Asia, Esther Heer, is retiring after a 30-year career in the industry. It comes as the firm awaits completion of its takeover by Brazilian investment bank BTG Pactual.
Heer, who joined BSI in late 2010 after a long spell at UK private bank Coutts, is to be replaced by Jonathan Lin (pictured below), who is currently BSI’s head of Greater China.
The news was announced yesterday by Hanspeter Brunner, chief executive of BSI Asia, who was unavailable for interview as AsianInvestor went to press.
Lin takes up the role at the start of next year and will work with Heer on a leadership transition. He joined BSI from BNP Paribas in 2012.
Heer was eventually lured to BSI from Coutts to follow in the footsteps of Brunner, who quit acrimoniously as Asia head of RBS Coutts to join BSI in 2009. Subsequently more than 70 staff from Coutts left and joined BSI after the Royal Bank of Scotland acquired over Coutts.
BSI Bank in Asia employs more than 350 people in the region, with about 80 in Hong Kong and 280 at its regional headquarters in Singapore. Heer was responsible for hiring in Hong Kong.
“It is to the great credit of Brunner and Heer that they managed to stabilise BSI after the huge inflow of personnel from Coutts,” one senior industry source told AsianInvestor.
“But it was hard for BSI to hire talent amid competition from bigger, more well established brands," he noted. "They did well to hire Jonathan Lin, who is very client-focused.
"He will now face a very different set of challenges. It is harder to run a bank than to be a banker after all, your focus becomes much more about risk management.”
In July this year, Italian insurer Generali said its entire share capital in BSI would be sold to the BTG Pactual.
The transaction is currently going through the authorisation process and is expected to close at end of the first quarter next year.
“It has been a great burst of energy into the business,” said a BSI spokeswoman. “Everyone is excited to get moving.”
BSI Asia said Heer would retain her advisory role with the board of directors of BSI Monaco. Sources indicate she was eager to retire to the south of France, where it is understood she owns a property.
Heer said she was looking forward to continuing her association as a board member of BSI Monaco. “I am also excited about having a little more time to pursue some of my personal passions and interests in the arts, various charities and travel,” she added.
Heer was among those chosen by AsianInvestor for its inaugural project to identify the top 25 women working in Asia’s asset and wealth management industry back in 2011. To review our initial list, please click here. To view a gallery of photos from the event, please click here.
BSI AG has been wholly owned by the Generali Group since 1998. Globally the bank had SFr91.4 billion ($94 billion) in assets under management as at June 30 and has a presence in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia.
The BSI spokeswoman declined to reveal the firm’s AUM sourced from Asia.