Boom time for private bankers
With money pouring into Singapore, private bankers are enjoying double-digit pay rises. But with new players setting up, could too many cooks spoil the broth?
Over 30 banks have booking centres in Singapore, enabling wealthy types globally to register assets and take advantage of its low taxes and favorable regulations. An estimated US$250bn of assets are now booked in the Lion City - double the level of two years ago.
This growth is attracting new players, with Nomura Wealth Management, BHI Switzerland and Standard Chartered among those to open offices in 2007. Swiss bank Julius Baer has also recently announced plans to expand in South East Asia, making Singapore its hub.
At the same time, salaries have increased due to rising competition for business and talent. Recruiters estimate compensation has risen between 20% and 40% in the past two years.
"Banks are increasing salaries and bonuses, especially sign-on bonuses, to get people on board," explains Nick Hughes, manager of front-office banking at Singapore's ConnectedGroup. "Recruitment is focused on getting skilled relationship managers, as they're responsible for winning business. A junior could expect to earn S$70k to S$100k in overall compensation; a mid-level banker might earn S$100k to S$160k; while the most experienced candidates could earn around S$500k."
Hughes believes consolidation is inevitable and as a result expects only moderate salary increases this year. He does, however, believe the overall outlook remains positive. "Banks are looking to expand into new areas, with money moving into Singapore from other Asian countries and Europe, particularly London and Switzerland. This is one reason growth should continue over the next three to four years," he concludes.
Last year, Singapore saw the fastest increase globally in the number of high-net-worth individuals according to the annual World Wealth Report by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini. Reuters reports that the number of people with more than US$1m in financial assets excluding their home rose 21% to 66,660.