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Eames Insights: Private Banking market update, Singapore

  • Publish Date: Posted 18 days ago
  • Author:by Abigail Lee

​2022, in a nutshell

2022 was a challenging year for the financial markets. With most asset classes declining with the volatility in the global markets with the Russia-Ukraine war, rise in interest rates, inflation and the continued effects of the pandemic, it was a year that investors were ready to write off.

Most saw a 10 – 40% decline in their portfolios – financial institutions were cautious in hiring and private banking relationship managers were less confident or keen to move.

With that said, there were specific banks which saw significant growth or departures in their front-office teams. For instance, Standard Chartered Bank and United Overseas Bank announced new management to succeed their respective Private Banks, and the Relationship Management teams grew by at least 10 – 20%. On the other hand, Credit Suisse saw a slew of mid to senior banker departures in the last year due to a series of incidences leading to the fall in confidence in investors and employees.

China’s zero COVID policy in 2022 affected Hong Kong’s regulations and businesses, which also led to the continued trend of bankers relocating to Singapore.

The hunt for talent – How should banks adapt to attract them?

The fight for talent is only getting more intense, with many private banks launching a 3 – 5 year roadmap to compete for the AUM league tables by 2025.

Most seasoned bankers already have a relative idea of the offerings across the various private banks and are able to assess which are more suitable for them and their clients. Other than the differences in the platforms, the softer aspects, such as stability, a strong management team and great culture, are equally important.

Banks and hiring managers should also know their strengths or niche to attract the right bankers. Knowing that they might not be here to cater to the entire market but recognising what works best for them is crucial.

What are some of the qualities bankers should have to break through these tougher times?

The poor market conditions in 2022 have been testing, and many bankers had to reevaluate the suitability of their previous platforms or adapt to new ways of working.

With the slowdown or exit in certain markets, we started seeing bankers move into new markets in the External Asset Managers, Family Offices and even frontier markets.

A South-East Asia Team Head at a Swiss Private Bank shared that “the hunt for new clients is a continuous process and expectation of the incremental growth in net new money is to drive bankers to keep identifying opportunities in the markets.”

As discussed in our previous articles, next-gen clients are also increasingly savvy and demanding. Bankers that rely heavily on their Investment Specialists for portfolio advisory might not be able to convince the next-gen clients to continue banking with them. Sharpening one’s technical skillsets is hence crucial to capture the next-gen wealth.

What do we expect in 2023?

With talks around a global slowdown in the economy, there have also been signs of resilience and China’s re-opening to consider (credit to IMF). Most of our clients are cautiously optimistic with their key focus in hiring relationship managers across most markets.

Director-level (and above) bankers continue to be sought after, given their track record, the strength of relationships with their clients and larger portfolio sizes. Apart from the Greater China markets, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, and Vietnam market bankers are in higher demand this year.

The increase in appetite in most banks has also translated to interest towards team and cluster moves again. While such complex moves involve higher risks which many were unwilling to undertake last year, these moves might be the key factor to move the needle this year.

Should you wish to speak further on any of these topics or have a confidential chat about your next career move or business objectives, please don't hesitate to contact us at: