DBS Private Bank has hired Lawrence Lua from Julius Baer as managing director and head of its Southeast Asia business based in Singapore. The 53-year-old industry veteran is set to start on April 1.

It’s a role that DBS has sought to fill permanently since Kwong Kin Mun departed in late 2009 to become head of Southeast Asia for Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management.

Lua will now oversee more than 100 staff in the Singapore-based private banking teams covering Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines, as well as support staff.

Southeast Asia accounts for about half of DBS Private Bank’s business. In an effort to diversify, the firm has focused to date on North Asia under the reign of Tan Su Shan, who joined from Morgan Stanley as group head of wealth management last June. Lua reports directly to Tan.

“Southeast Asian economies have navigated the global financial crisis well and they are back on track to grow on the back of Asia’s rise,” says Tan in a statement. “The growing wealth in the region presents huge opportunities for us.”

According to the Asia-Pacific Wealth Report 2010 by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini, assets held by individuals in Singapore and Indonesia alone amounted to nearly $450 billion in 2009.

A spokeswoman for DBS confirms that Donne Lee, managing director for wealth management solutions, treasury and markets, has served as DBS Private Bank's Southeast Asia head in the interim following Kwong’s exit.

Lee has been assisted in the role by Tan, who previously worked as Morgan Stanley’s head of private wealth management for Southeast Asia, and by COO Olivier Crespin, CIO Lim Say Boon and Indonesia country head Chan Kwee Him.

Lua joins DBS from Julius Baer in Singapore, where he was most recently managing director and senior adviser. He also headed a senior client banker team and was co-head of the product committee and legal and compliance committee for the city-state.

According to the statement, Lua was responsible for setting up Julius Baer’s advisory excellence framework for Asia, a strategy designed to better assess clients’ goals and risk profiles and determine appropriate investment solutions.

A spokeswoman for Julius Baer in Singapore did not respond by press time to questions on whether the Swiss bank had found a replacement for Lua.

Prior to Julius Baer, Lua was a managing director of investments at Merrill Lynch, managing the portfolios of clients in Southeast Asia. Between 1991 and 1999 he also worked at Citibank, where he was appointed global market manager and country head for Citi Private Bank Singapore.