Swiss private bank Union Bancaire Privée is on a recruitment drive in Asia as it strives to deepen its regional presence on the back of the acquisition of Coutts International, global head Michel Longhini has told AsianInvestor.
The bank, which manages about $7 billion in institutional assets globally but has just $1 billion to $2 billion as a private bank, will be seeking to add key relationship managers and team heads in the region.
It comes after UBP this March moved to acquire Coutts International, the global private banking arm of Royal Bank of Scotland, as reported. Longhini noted that Coutts had suffered some senior staff exits both pre- and post news of the acquisition.
“We have an ambition to develop our presence in Asia,” Longhini said. “We have been developing on the asset management side, seeing good growth in Japan.
“Now we want to take the opportunity to migrate the Coutts business and grow significantly on the private banking side. The Coutts business is a very interesting starting point, a good platform for development.”
Longhini admitted UBP had seen some staff departures in Singapore, but added: “We are now looking at different roles. We want to continue to expand, and we are looking at key relationship managers and team heads that we can bring in,” he explained.
Last week it emerged that Michael Blake would be taking over UBP’s private banking activities in Asia once its acquisition of Coutts International’s assets in the region was completed, expected in the first half of next year.
Blake had been named as chief executive of Coutts & Company just this May, having served for five years as general manager for Coutts in Asia.
UBP’s Asia private banking business in Asia is currently run by Eric Morin, who also serves as its Singapore CEO. Once the migration of Coutts’ assets is finalised he will take on a new role as head of international clients and regional head of sales and marketing based in Singapore. Thereafter he will report to Blake.
But a UBP spokesperson based in Geneva stressed that Blake was not directly replacing Morin. He noted the size of the Coutts International business (at about $10 billion) dwarfed UBP’s private banking assets. Given that Blake had been running the bigger business for five years, it was viewed as best that he continue in that capacity.
“Morin is not stepping back,” he said. “Now he is taking on a sales and marketing role for the whole region for a business that is $10 billion to $12 billion. [Blake] was the original CEO of that business, so it is a question of continuation.”
Morin had only just replaced Stephan Repkow, who quit UBP this summer after four-and-a-half years as Asia chief to launch a new wealth management platform – Wealth Management Alliance – based in Singapore, as reported.
UBP signed the asset purchase agreement for Coutts International on March 26, with the deal including businesses managed from Switzerland, Monaco, the Middle East, Singapore and Hong Kong that together managed more than SFr30 billion ($30 billion). Media estimated UBP paid up to $800 million to secure the assets.
Longhini said the migration of Coutts’ assets from Switzerland, Dubai and Monaco was completed on November 1. It is now focusing on a combined migration of assets from Singapore and Hong Kong in the first half.
“We already have a banking licence in Singapore, but not yet in Hong Kong,” he explained. “But we are working closely together in terms of booking these assets, so we are doing the two together in agreement with the regulators.”