Bank of Singapore to double wealth management staff in Hong Kong to cater to China’s rich

Alice Shen
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Bank of Singapore to double wealth management staff in Hong Kong to cater to China’s rich

Bank of Singapore, the private banking arm of Singapore’s second-biggest lender OCBC, plans to double its staff in Hong Kong as it eyes wealth management business from China’s growing number of millionaires and billionaires, according to the bank’s local head. 

It has already rented a second floor at Hong Kong’s landmark One International Finance Centre tower and plans to have the increased staffing in place by 2020, Derrick Tan, chief executive of the bank’s Hong Kong branch and global market head of Greater China and North Asia, said at a media briefing last week. 

The number of Chinese with investible assets of at least 10 million yuan (US$1.6 million) rose to 1.58 million by the end of 2016, about eight times higher than it was a decade ago, according to the latest household wealth report from China Merchants Bank and consultants Bain & Co. 

“China is the biggest market for private banking in Asia,” Tan said, adding that the bank’s assets under management in the Greater China area climbed 25 per cent last year. With a total of US$99 billion in assets under management in 2017, Bank of Singapore was ranked the eighth-largest private bank in Asia by Asian Private Banker magazine. 

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The bank had 10 per cent more relationship managers in the Greater China region last year than in 2016, Tan said, noting that the Hong Kong branch was one of the key drivers behind the rise in assets under management.

“If you are trying to understand China investments from a Singapore perspective, you can never get it. That’s why I came to Hong Kong,” he said. Tan relocated to Hong Kong from Dubai after the setting up of the bank’s branch there early last year. 

Hong Kong has a pool of expertise on China, he added, especially in cities such as Shenzhen and Hangzhou where many technology entrepreneurs had accumulated their wealth.

Separately, Woon Shiu Lee, the bank’s managing director and head of wealth planning, told the briefing that it aims to open one family office in each major city in China by the end of this year, in response to Chinese entrepreneurs’ needs to transfer their wealth to the next generation.

“In the next five to 10 years, around 75 per cent of Chinese entrepreneurs will face the challenge of transferring wealth to the next generation,” Lee said. 

OCBC Bank, which owns Bank of Singapore, bought the Singapore and Hong Kong wealth management units of Britain’s Barclays in late 2016.

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