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Case of the disappearing jobs

Watch where you work. Singaporean private banking roles may be proliferating now, but they could disappear in future.

Employees at mid-ranking banks are at most risk. Justin Ong, leader of PricewaterhouseCoopers' Singapore wealth management practice, tells us the industry is becoming polarized between global and niche players. "From my perspective it's going to be which bank is going to be able to sustain the kind of costs that they need to survive," he says, pointing to technology and people as the big challenges.

Urs Brutsch, Singapore branch manager for Credit Suisse affiliate Clariden Bank, was quoted by the Financial Times this week as saying he was concerned about future over-capacity in the market and that middle-ranked banks might suffer.

For the moment, the deficit of private banking talent is the big issue, however: with the Asian market growing by as much as 30% or more a year, there is a role for everyone to play.

Jackie Wong, head of Egon Zehnder International's Asia Pacific financial services practice, says the long term success of Singapore's banks will depend upon their ability to hire the best bankers in the current market: "The quality of people will make a difference - a lot of the proposition is about the quality of service and the business. It's a very high personal touch business."

The Asia-Pacific Wealth Report released this week by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini estimated the total wealth of high net worth individuals in Asia at US$7.6 trillion in 2005, up 8 per cent on 2004.

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