Esther Heer, RBS Coutts's head of private banking for North Asia, has left the firm, according to a release announcing her replacement. Heer was unavailable for comment and it is unclear where she is moving to.

However, RBS Coutts, the international private banking arm of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, said yesterday that it has appointed Ignatius KK (Iggy) Chong as its new head of private banking for North Asia.

Based in Hong Kong, Chong will be charged with driving growth of the bank's business in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Philippines.

With regard to Heer's departure, it is a concern that it could lead to other bankers also handing in their resignation. Last year the firm lost more than 70 people from its Singapore business after chief executive Hanspeter Brunner left in August to join Swiss rival Banca della Svizzera Italiana, a Swiss private bank owned by Italian insurer Generali. Brunner has been actively hiring at BSI ever since.

Heer has close to 30 years of banking experience and among other achievements she has been instrumental in establishing and growing RBS Coutts's Hong Kong branch, which opened as a representative office in 1988. 
 
Chong has been with RBS Coutts for more than 15 years, most recently as head of the Hong Kong market where he led a team of 40 private bankers and staff. He was one of the bank's earliest employees, joining RBS Coutts in 1994 when the bank established a branch office in Hong Kong. In his new role, Chong will manage a 90-strong team of private bankers and staff. He will report to Nick Pollard, chief executive officer of RBS Coutts Asia, who is also based in Hong Kong.
 
"Iggy's appointment is an important step forward for the North Asia business. He has been instrumental in building our business in Hong Kong over the past 15 years," said Pollard.

Chong has close to 30 years' experience in the financial industry. Prior to joining RBS Coutts, he held a number of senior roles at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) in British Columbia, Canada and Hong Kong between 1982 and 1994. He moved to Hong Kong to launch RBC's Asian private banking operations.
 
RBS Coutts bank moved its global co-chief investment officer from London to Hong Kong in March and has recently appointed a new Asia human resources head based in Hong Kong. Earlier this year, it appointed a new market head for Southeast Asia, based in Singapore.