Update: RBS Coutts moves co-CIO to Hong Kong

As it rebuilds its team in Asia, the UK firm becomes the latest private bank to relocate a top-level executive, Nick Cringle, to the region. It has also hired Manfred Liechti as head of Southeast Asia.
Update: RBS Coutts moves co-CIO to Hong Kong

After losing 70 staff from its Singapore office last year and bringing in a new Asia chief from London to steady the ship, RBS Coutts is to transfer another senior banker from head office.

Nick Cringle, global co-chief investment officer at the UK private bank in London alongside Gayle Schumacher, will move to Hong Kong in the coming weeks.

His relocation is part of the bank's strategic plan to capitalise on one of the world's fastest-growing high-net-worth markets and to strengthen Asia's voice in shaping the investment product ranges and the future of wealth-management services, says an RBS Coutts spokeswoman.

Cringle joined the firm in 1993 and spent four years in the Hong Kong office during handover time; the return of the territory from Britain to China took place in 1997. His last position before becoming global co-CIO was head of tailored portfolios.

Meanwhile, Manfred Liechti joined RBS Coutts today as head of Southeast Asia from UBS, where he was Asia-Pacific head of financial intermediaries at UBS in Singapore. Before that, he was country team head for Indonesia.

Liechti will report to Paul Davies, head of South Asia in Singapore, the post previously held by Raj Sriram, who also ran Southeast Asia. Sriram left RBS Coutts with former co-CEO Hanspeter Brunner last year to join BSI, a Swiss private bank owned by Italian insurer Generali.

Sources say many of the bankers who left RBS Coutts's Singapore office have joined Brunner and Sriram at BSI. A Hong Kong-based recruiter has provided AsianInvestor with a list of 22 names of those thought to have done so, but the Swiss firm declined to confirm them.

RBS Coutts' new Asia chief executive, Nick Pollard, who moved from London in September, spent most of the first three months of his new role in Singapore, overseeing the office following the mass departure. (AsianInvestor spoke to him shortly after he arrived in the region.) But he is officially based out of Hong Kong, and in January he set up in the territory on a permanent basis.

Cringle's relocation is another example of senior management moving from the West to add weight to Asian operations, says Thomas Stemp, who covers private banking at recruitment firm Pelham Search Pacific in Hong Kong. (Another reason cited by some for such transfers -- in the UK at least -- is to avoid higher taxes.)

Douglas Wurth, previously global head of JP Morgan Private Bank's alternative investments group in New York, moved to Hong Kong in February as CEO of the firm's international (non-US) operations.

Meanwhile, HSBC is planning to relocate group private-banking head Chris Meares to Hong Kong from London. The bank did not confirm the move by press time, but AsianInvestor sources say it is going ahead.

In addition, Nancie Dupier, previously New York-based investment head for the Americas, has replaced Jimmy So as chief executive for Singapore, reporting to Wong. The move was announced in December, and Dupier started in the role at the end of January.

Asia is becoming an increasingly crowded private-wealth market. UK fund manager Schroder Investment Management has applied for a banking licence in Singapore as a first step to expanding its private-banking business to Asia from Europe, Reuters reported on Friday.

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