UBS hires Koh as Singapore WM chief and country head

The bank has also appointed Edmund Koh to its global wealth management executive committee in a move seen as grooming him for future regional leadership.
UBS hires Koh as Singapore WM chief and country head

UBS Wealth Management has appointed Edmund Kian-Chew Koh as Singapore country head and CEO for wealth management in Singapore, effective from early next year.

Importantly, Koh will also become a member of UBS’s global wealth management executive committee. One source suggested the seniority of the role may indicate he is being groomed for regional leadership.

Since March 2008 Koh has been working as president of Taiwanese bank Ta Chong, which is a portfolio company of private equity firm Carlyle Asia Partners.

In one fell swoop, he succeeds both Gerald Chan, country head of UBS Singapore, and Christine Ong, who was CEO Wealth Management Singapore but has been on an extended leave of absence due to ill health. Neither Chan or Ong are understood to have been on UBS’s wealth management executive committee.

Chan had been working as Singapore country head for the past three years in addition to his regular role as head of client relationships for fixed income, currencies and commodities. According to the bank, he had asked to focus purely on his FICC role.

“The recent events of the past few weeks (UBS group CEO Oswald Grubel stepped down after the bank suffered a $2.3 billion equity trading loss within its investment banking division in London) have not changed my decision to join UBS,” Koh was quoted as saying in a statement.

“The fundamental strengths of the bank that attracted me to this job remain unchanged. UBS remains one of the best capitalised banks in the world. Its global wealth management franchise and platform remains unmatched.”

Meanwhile, UBS said Ong planned to return to a new leadership position at the Swiss bank next year. “Christine is a well respected leader in the organisation with 19 years’ experience in UBS and we are looking forward to her contributions in her new role next year,” it added.

According to the statement, Koh was responsible for turning around the loss-making Ta Chong Bank “within a year”. Prior to that he was head of DBS Bank’s regional consumer banking group, where he worked between 2001 and 2008. He has also worked as CEO of Prudential Assurance company, as well as spending six-year stints at both Citibank and HSBC group.

Koh will report to Kathryn Shih, CEO of UBS Wealth Management Asia-Pacific, as well as Alex Wilmot Sitwell and Chi-Won Yoon, co-chairmen and co-CEOs of UBS AG Asia-Pacific, with respect to the Singapore country head role.

UBS, which has been on a hiring spree this year, reports that as of the second quarter of this year it has SFr163 billion ($182 billion) in assets under management in Asia-Pacific.

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