Swiss bank Credit Suisse has plucked industry veteran James Hong from retirement to become its first private banking chief executive for Hong Kong.
Hong, who started his new job on September 1, has worked in asset management and private banking for 25 years. Most recently he was chairman of Greater China at UBS Global Asset Management from 2004 to 2009 before retiring. Prior to that he was UBS’s head of alternative and quantitative investments for Asia.
AsianInvestor has also been informed that Betty Tsui and Edith Lau have quit UBS Wealth Management. Tsui has been working as a managing director and regional market manager for China, while Lau was a managing director and desk head for North China.
Like Hong, Tsui is an industry veteran, having been a market manager with Standard Chartered Private Bank before the business was acquired by Swiss Bank Corp (SBC) in the mid-1990s.
Sources say Tsui was close to Hong and suspect that both Tsui and Lau will join Credit Suisse in a similar capacity, although a spokesperson for Credit Suisse in Hong Kong declined to comment.
However, a UBS spokesman in Hong Kong says Tsui and Lau are still employed by the firm. It is unclear whether UBS is trying to renegotiate to keep the pair or they are working out their notice period.
Credit Suisse created private banking CEO roles for Hong Kong and Singapore earlier this year amid a management restructure. It scrapped the North Asia and Southeast Asia head posts in favour of having 10 heads of geographic markets or regions, all reporting directly to Credit Suisse’s Asia-Pacific head of private banking Marcel Kreis.
Hong has now taken over as Hong Kong CEO from Kreis who had been performing the function on an interim basis. Former UBS staffer Tee Fong Seng is Credit Suisse’s private banking CEO for Singapore, in addition to his responsibilities as Asia-Pacific vice-chairman for private banking and head of ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) for Asia-Pacific.
The restructuring of Credit Suisse’s private banking management team saw Anuj Khanna move from head of private banking for North Asia to chief operating officer for Asia-Pacific private banking. This followed the departure of previous COO Tom Allen.
At the same time Francois Monnet was switched from head of private banking for Southeast Asia to become head of UHNWIs covering all markets except China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Credit Suisse argued at the time that the new structure empowered market leaders with greater ownership, accountability and responsibility for their businesses, while at the same time strengthening the leadership foundation of the franchise.
Asked why the bank had introduced the roles of private banking CEO, a spokeswoman for Credit Suisse said: “The private banking CEOs oversee the development of their respective franchises and drive client delivery and service across their locations.
“All department heads from front to back in both locations report to the private banking CEOs in Hong Kong and Singapore for governance and supervisory responsibilities, in addition to their respective global functional reporting,” she added.
Credit Suisse says Hong will provide client coverage and facilitate collaboration across its investment banking, private banking and asset management divisions.
But a senior industry source says: “This is about dividing onshore and offshore responsibilities. Hong is the location head and he will have all the offshore heads sitting in Hong Kong reporting in to him. But the onshore heads are separate. Effectively, Credit Suisse is mirroring the structure at UBS, where Allen Lo, for example, is Hong Kong wealth management CEO.”
Hong retired in 2009, but was keen to stay in the market, say sources. In 1996 he joined the former SBC -- which merged with UBS in 1998 -- as regional head of product development and market for private banking.
He has also worked for Standard Chartered’s international private banking business, first as area head for North Asia and then as global head of marketing. He also spent years covering Asia with Citibank in the US and Bank Liechtenstein in Hong Kong.