Hands off our staff!
Poaching is rife in Singapore's private banking sector. Rumours continue to circulate on what's being done to stop it.
According to the Financial Times, UBS and Standard Chartered Bank have informally agreed to refrain from hiring bankers from Singaporean rivals DBS and OCBC for an unspecified periods.
It seems the authorities are getting involved too. The paper also reports that the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has held talks with private banks in an effort to dampen the poaching pandemic, and the Association of Banks Singapore (ABS) has issued recruiting guidelines.
Is this really true? We endeavoured to find out. An MAS spokesperson offered a rather ambiguous response to our question, saying MAS works closely to ensure 'financial manpower development' by, "raising professional competencies, skills training and enlarging the financial talent pool." But they also volunteered that, "MAS does not intervene in the recruitment decisions of financial institutions."
A Standard Chartered spokesperson was no more forthcoming, saying: ''This is purely market speculation and it has been Standard Chartered's policy to not comment.''
The ABS admitted it released recruitment guidelines concerning private bankers in September, but stressed there were no anti-poaching provisions included: "Hiring remains a commercial decision of each individual bank."
Nevertheless, there is rarely smoke without fire. Earlier this year the Straits Times reported that OCBC lost a third of its private bankers to larger rivals, while DBS lost both its head of private banking and its head of research.
At the same time, barbarians at the gate are staffing up. BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Julius Baer and Standard Chartered, are all hiring avidly, to name but a few.
Who can blame local firms for feeling besieged?