UBP seeking Asia market heads after departures

The Swiss firm aims to replace senior executives and grow its regional team of relationship managers, following the completion of its Coutts deal. China is a major focus.

Switzerland’s Union Bancaire Privee is looking to replace senior staff following departures during its acquisition of Coutts’ Hong Kong and Singapore businesses, the transfer of which was completed last Friday.

UBP said it was seeking market heads for Greater China, Singapore and Indonesia.

Jacqueline Chua, head of Southeast Asia at Coutts, resigned a few months ago, said a source. It was reported last year that David Lam, formerly head of North Asia at Coutts, would retain that role at UBP, but that didn't come to pass as Lam retired a few weeks ago, the source added. AsianInvestor could not ascertain what they are doing now.

UBP declined to comment on these resignations as of press time.

Moreovoer, the bank now has 67 relationship managers in Asia and aims to increase that to 100 in the next two years, said Guy de Picciotto, global chief executive of UBP. It has also added a banking licence in Hong Kong as a result of the Coutts acquisition. 

UBP’s new regional management team comprises Asia CEO Michael Blake; Ranjit Khanna, market head for South Asia and Asia/Middle East head of non-resident Indians; and Eric Morin, market head of North Asia and head of international markets and sales management.

Before these new roles, Blake was CEO of Coutts' international business, a role he took up in May 2015, and Morin was UBP’s Singapore CEO. Khanna has retained the same role.

The client and asset transfer rate to UBP from Coutts has been 70-80% from when the deal was struck in May last year, Blake said. The acquisition has increased UBP’s AUM in Asia from $1 billion to $14 billion in private bank and institutional business.

Blake said the bank was busy talking to “a lot of people” about filling the market leader vacancies. Of course there may well be further departures as the newly merged business beds in. 

Still, there would appear to be a surfeit of private bankers in the market as a result of recent consolidation and restructuring in the industry. JP Morgan Private Bank, for instance, laid off 30 private bankers as it moved to focus on servicing ultra-high-net-worth investors rather than high-net-worth investors. Moreover, Singapore bank OCBC’s acquisition of Barclay’s private banking business in Asia is expected to add candidates to the job market.

Of the markets in Asia, China has the biggest potential, said Michel Longhini, CEO for private banking at UBP. “We are planning to expand the team that covers the China market.”

He added that the bank was open to more partnerships in China but declined to comment much on potential acquisitions of mainland firms. It signed a partnership deal with Shanghai-based wealth manager Noah Holdings last year to work on products and other initiatives, but the deal is non-exclusive.

In respect of the funds offering in Asia, UBP has absorbed Aman Dhingra and his fund selection team, who will work with the team in Geneva on reviewing the funds platform. 

Blake said all third-party funds and managers from Coutts had been transferred to UBP to ensure continuity of service, but that it would continue to review its offerings.

UBP has 15% of total AUM in discretionary mandates and the rest in advisory.

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