Barclays, Deutsche, Standard Chartered, RBS – European banks have generally been in retrenchment mode over the past year in Asia.
But not Credit Suisse.
In the year to end-June 2016 Credit Suisse added 850 people in Asia Pacific, taking headcount from 6,170 to 7,020, according to its quarterly results released last week. This came despite a 12% fall in year-on-year APAC net revenues at the bank, and job cuts elsewhere, notably London.
Where, exactly, has Credit Suisse been hiring in Asia?
Front-office investment banking hiring has focused primarily on senior-level poaching. Many of the 850 new recruits have instead joined Credit Suisse’s Private Banking Group, says a Hong Kong-based source with knowledge of the firm.
These include 100 new relationship managers, according to the bank’s results. Regional RM headcount rose from 550 in Q2 last year to 650 in Q2 this year, cementing Credit Suisse’s place as the second largest private bank in Asia, behind UBS.
Adding this number of RMs in just 12 months (without an acquisition) is “unparalleled” in the Asian wealth sector, says a Singapore-based headhunter.
Among Credit Suisse’s rivals in 2015, for example, Standard Chartered added the most new RMs – just 30 people. UBS’s Asian RM workforce shrunk 7.9% last year to 1,092.
The hiring suggests that, despite sector-wide talent shortages, Credit Suisse is on track to meet its target of having 800 RMs in Asia by the end of 2018. It ‘only’ needs to hire 150 more private bankers over the next 2.5 years – or about 60 a year on average – to reach 800.
CEO Tidjane Thiam announced these recruitment plans in October 2015 as part of a wider business pivot towards Asian wealth management and a focus on selling investment banking products to entrepreneurial Asian private clients.
But Credit Suisse's private bank hasn’t only been hiring RMs. “There’s been recruitment in compliance, client onboarding, KYC, financial crime, business management and risk to support the private bank in Singapore and Hong Kong,” says the Hong Kong-based source .
Within other divisions, much of the firm’s recent Asian recruitment has also been for support roles. “CS has added a lot of people in Indian shared-service centres like Pune where they’ve hired a ton of risk, finance change, and technology people over the past 12 months,” he adds.
Senior hiring at Credit Suisse
Meanwhile, during the firm's earnings call last week, Thiam said Credit Suisse had hired people who had departed from competitors retrenching in the region.
Headhunters in Asia say Credit Suisse has made a number of “opportunistic” hires in its private bank – for example from J.P. Morgan, which cut 30 RMs earlier this year.
The bank confirms that senior private banking hires since January include:
- Carole Cheung, market group head Philippines, from BNP Paribas.
- Teddy Chu, head of trust and estate advisory Hong Kong, from Deutsche Bank.
- Stella Kong, market group head China, from Standard Chartered.
- Sew Y. Lee, director and team leader for Asia desk in private banking Australia, from ANZ.
- Edwin Lim, market group head Taiwan, from J.P. Morgan.
- Khun Thippa Praneeprachachon, executive director and expert RM for Thailand, from EFG.
While rank-and-file recruitment numbers in investment banking, capital markets and global markets haven’t been as high as those in private banking, Credit Suisse has still made several senior Asia Pacific hires in 2016:
- Simon Cox, co-head of ECM Australia, from UBS.
- Sujit Dey, head of Australian hedge fund sales, from J.P. Morgan.
- Jean du Plessis, head of Australian financial institutions group, from Deutsche Bank.
- Ken Hon, head of prime finance trading, from Standard Chartered.
- Steven King, head of APAC advanced execution services sales, from Morgan Stanley.
- Alain Lam, head of APAC media and technology, from Morgan Stanley.
- Li Ping, head of IBCM Shanghai Branch, from Deutsche Bank.
- Patrick No, head of APAC financial sponsors coverage, from JP Morgan.
- Divyesh Patel, senior coverage trader in electronic trading, from ITG.
- Michael Stock, head of IBCM Australia, from UBS.
- Summer Xia, chief Beijing representative, China coverage IBCM, from CICC.