This boutique bank wants to hire you in Asia next year

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Another boutique private bank is likely to increase its hiring in Asia next year: Pictet. Following the surprise appointment of Boris Collardi as its co-head of global wealth management last week, headhunters are tipping Geneva-based Pictet to add relationship managers in Singapore and Hong Kong.

During his tenure as Julius Baer chief executive, Collardi oversaw the bank’s expansion across Asia. Last year Julius Baer hired 110 relationship managers, taking its headcount to 380, the fifth largest of any private bank in Asia. The region now accounts for about a quarter of Julius Baer’s business.

Collardi will also try to grow Pictet in Asia, but not at such a rapid rate, says Rahul Sen, a former Merrill Lynch private banker, now head of wealth management at search firm The Omerta Group. “He will selectively add more people in 2018; it won’t be a JB-style hiring spree.”

Pictet has a lot of catching up to do in Asia, where it remains a minor player compared with other boutique private banks. It will be hiring at the same time as rivals LGT, VP Bank, EFG, Safra Sarasin and UBP are also ramping at their Asian recruitment.

While Pictet has had an office in Hong Kong since 1986 and in Singapore since 1995, it only employs about 50 relationship managers in Asia and ranks outside the top-20 private banks regionally by RM headcount and assets under management. Globally, however, Pictet’s profits were up 29% to CHF247m in the first half of this year.

“Pictet will be recruiting more in Asia under Collardi, but it generally prefers big-book bankers – people with about $500m in AUM,” says Liu San Li, an ex-private banker, now head of banking at search firm IGS Asia in Singapore. “Only seniors should apply for jobs there.”

While former employer Julius Baer will be a hunting ground for Collardi, there are no other obvious targets. “Pictet could recruit from UBS or from a boutique – the main criteria is whether the candidate fits into the culture there,” says Sen. “If Julius Baer in Asia is a Ferrari – flashy and visible – then Pictet is more like a Rolls Royce: a high-class but less aggressive bank. It’s not the place for RMs whose clients demand FX trading or structured products, for example. It’s not a sales-driven environment.”

If you want to join Pictet in Hong Kong or Singapore, your main challenge will be convincing your clients to move with you, says Liu. “Pictet is actually a strong brand in Europe, but not many clients in Asia know about it. It’s not easy to change this mindset,” he adds.

Pictet could be a good option for RMs who want a “step up in seniority and recognition”, says Sen. “At HSBC, for example, you’re working with hundreds of other RMs and you can easily get lost in the crowd. Pictet’s small size in Asia means you should enjoy more visibility internally.”

“There are advantages to joining Pictet. For example, it’s well established in asset management and discretionary portfolio management,” adds Liu. “And it’s one of the few banks that value pure wealth management over big revenues.”

Image credit: razihusin, Getty

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