Coutts International, the international private banking arm of the Royal Bank of Scotland has announced several regional moves, highlighted by the appointment of Hanspeter Brunner as executive chairman, Coutts Asia.

In the new Singapore-based role, Brunner will aim to lead the firmÆs growth within the region, while remaining the chief executive officer for Coutts International, which manages the private banking businesses in Europe, Asia, Latin America and other offshore financial centres.

BrunnerÆs new appointment marks a return to the region. Prior to joining the firm, he spent 12 years in Beijing and Hong Kong in the private banking industry in a variety of roles. Upon joining Coutts Asia in 1997, he also led its efforts in the region as head of private banking for Asia. After this role, he was appointed as CEO in 2000, which he carried out from CouttsÆ Zurich offices.

He takes on the role after the previous CEO of Coutts Asia, Paul Davies, has been transferred to new role. Davies will now spearhead business development and strategy for Coutts International, which will include driving several strategic initiatives in Asia.

According to Coutts, BrunnerÆs appointment underscores its commitment to the region and as a target growth area for the business.

ôAsian economies continue to grow at impressive rates and are likely to surpass Europe and North America for a few more years,ö says Brunner. "To cater for the growing need for our wealth management services, we added 30% more staff in our Singapore and Hong Kong offices last year.ö

In addition to BrunnerÆs appointment, Coutts has also appointed Raj Sriram and Esther Heer as heads of private banking in Singapore and Hong Kong respectively.

As head of private banking in Singapore, Sriram will lead a team of 50 private bankers looking after clients from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore as well as the South Asian community. He first joined Coutts in 2001 to drive its Indian and non-resident Indian (NRI) initiative.

In the role of head of private banking in Hong Kong, Heer will lead a team of 35 private bankers, working with clients from Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, the Philippines and Australia. To her new position, she brings over 25 years of banking experience and has been instrumental in establishing and growing the Hong Kong branch since it opened as a representative office in 1988.

The appointments come at a pivotal time for Coutts. As part of its growth plans, Coutts aims to expand its presence in Asia, including the partnership with Bank of China. It also will bolster its capabilities in serving the wealth management needs of the South Asian community.

The private bank has had an Asian presence for over 10 years with branches in Singapore and Hong Kong. Recently, it opened a rep office in Tokyo.