How Deutsche Bank staved off staff “exodus” to start hiring again in Asia

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This time last year Deutsche Bank Wealth Management was facing turmoil in Asia. It had just suffered the significant departures of Ravi Raju, its Asian wealth chief, and Anurag Mahesh, its Singapore-based global head of key client partners, to UBS.

Industry speculation was also mounting that other Deutsche private bankers were likely to follow them – both out of loyalty to Raju and to escape the turmoil then engulfing Deutsche’s wider business globally.

At the time Deutsche employed about 200 relationship managers in Asia. “There was a mass exodus expected. Rumours were that 20 senior RMs were ready to leave,” says former Merrill Lynch private banker Rahul Sen, now head of wealth management at search firm The Omerta Group. “But this didn’t happen. The RMs stayed back when they realised that there was quite a lot of client overlaps with UBS.”

Having, albeit fortuitously, staved off these exits, Deutsche is now expanding its RM team in Singapore and Hong Kong. “Hiring was paused in 2016 due to the bank’s financial losses and Ravi Raju’s departure. But since April, it’s been giving out the correct signals that Asian wealth management is important to its business, and it’s revamping its IT systems and continuing to hire,” says Sen.

Deutsche Bank Wealth Management plans to add 50 client-facing roles – including RMs – in Asia during the second half of this year, Lok Yim, the unit’s Asia Pacific head, told Bloomberg in June. While it’s unclear whether the bank will hit this target, it has been active in the job market.

The German firm announced the latest of its new RM recruits yesterday, all based in Singapore. It’s poached a team of four bankers, led by group head Jonathan Ng, from BNP Paribas. And it’s also taken two RMs, including Gregory Goh, from Nomura.

Moving teams is a common tactic for private banks trying to meet ambitious headcount targets. “It’s easier to make bulk hires this way. But more importantly, a team that works well together remains intact and clients are also more likely to move, because there’s no disruption in the investment services they receive,” says Sen.

Relationship managers often join Deutsche because its wealth and markets divisions are well integrated, he adds. “RMs are able to offer complex investment structures to their clients, on top of their regular private wealth suite of products.”

Deutsche needs new RMs to help rebuild its books. Asian assets under management fell to $47.4bn in 2016, down 11.7% from the previous year, as the bank ditched some non-compliant clients in the face of tightening regulations.

Image credit: killerbayer, Getty

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