UK-based Barclays Bank’s head of wealth management for Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, Didier von Daeniken, has quit and will replace Michael Benz at Standard Chartered, AsianInvestor understands.

Von Daeniken had served as head of Barclays’ private banking operations in Asia Pacific since June 2007. But now he has been hired to take over the private banking and wealth management operations of Standard Chartered based in Asia, AsianInvestor has been told.

It is understood that will happen in the first quarter of next year, although a spokesman for Barclays Bank based in Hong Kong declined to comment.

Asked whether Benz had left StanChart, media relations manager Josephine Wong also said she was unable to comment. She noted the bank would be releasing a statement in response to speculation later today, once it had been cleared by London.

If true, it means Benz will have spent less than two years at StanChart, having taken up the role of group head of private banking on February 17, 2014, as reported. One internal source at the bank has told AsianInvestor that news of his exit is true.

Industry sources that AsianInvestor has spoken to expressed surprise at the news. “It surprises me because it [the rebuilding of StanChart Private Bank] was very much a work in progress,” one senior figure said.

“I thought he was a good fit. This was a global, strategic role and he is a strategic guy. He lost a few people, but he also brought in a good number of relationship managers and he rebuilt the China team. But did he have a mass following? No.”

The executive noted there was no obvious number two to replace Benz, who operated with a Northeast Asia head, Desmond Liu, and an Asean head, Peter Kok. “From the bank’s perspective this looks pretty stupid,” the source argued.

Benz had reported to Anna Marrs, who was named group head of commercial and private banking clients on April 1, as reported.

Von Daeniken has more than 20 years’ experience in the industry. Prior to joining Barclays he spent his career at Credit Suisse, where he held senior positions in Zurich, Geneva, Dubai, Istanbul and Singapore. He was co-head of private banking for Asia Pacific before moving to Barclays in 2007.

Von Daeniken is understood to be taking on a private banking and wealth management remit. Currently at StanChart, Judy Hsu serves as global head of wealth management as well as Singapore CEO. It is understood that she will relinquish the WM role when Von Daeniken joins.

StanChart’s private bankers historically interacted closely with its consumer bank, with the institution not known for its ultra-high-net-worth platform. It was what Benz had been hired to change.

StanChart is not a large private bank, having sold out of the wealth management industry and then re-entered it again in 2007 with the acquisition of American Express’s banking arm.

Standard Chartered Bank has looked to cut non-core operations and boost flagging profits. This has included shutting down its equity derivatives and convertible bond units, closing its global institutional cash equity, equity research and equity capital markets businesses and culling staff, as reported.