Seven new things to know before you interview with Standard Chartered in Asia

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Standard Chartered has long been one of the most prolific recruiters in the Singapore and Hong Kong banking sectors. Even when it’s making redundancies, staff turnover always ensures that it’s also hiring in big numbers. The bank currently has 475 vacancies in Singapore alone.

What are some of the main trends you need to know about if you’re applying for a job at the bank? Stan Chart has just published an interim management statement outlining its financial results for the first quarter. Here are some of the key points.

Don’t get too excited about working at Stan Chart

After two years of restructuring and job losses at Stan Chart in Asia and globally, the firm’s 7% year-on-year Q1 increase in revenues to $3,873m appears encouraging. However, this total (which represents a 5% rise on a constant currency basis) was actually “towards the low end of its target range, and modestly missed analysts’ expectations”, according to Reuters.

You’ll want to be based in Hong Kong

While Singapore may be Stan Chart’s main office in Asia, Hong Kong employees enjoyed the better Q1. Income in the bank’s ‘Greater China and North Asia’ region was up 13% year on year to $1,564m, driven partly by “broad-based growth” in the firm’s Hong Kong business. Singapore’s region, ‘ASEAN and South Asia’ could only muster 7% growth to $1,075m.

Think twice before transfering away from Asia

Stan Chart’s results reconfirm the overwhelming dominance of Asia to the bank’s business. The two Asian regions (see above) together brought in $2,639m in Q1 –  68% of global revenues. By contrast, income for the ‘Europe and Americas’ region was just $441m over the same period. If you still want to move away from Asia with Stan Chart, try to ensure you get a group-wide senior leadership role in London.

Some traders are doing better than others

Stan Chart breaks down its revenues into product categories (as well as divisions and regions). Within ‘markets’ products, income from foreign exchange products went up 11% year-on-year to $250m, while rates products rose by 9% to $177m. By contrast, credit and capital markets, and capital structuring and distribution revenues fell by 11% and 33%, respectively.

Stan Chart has been expanding in private banking this year

Unlike fellow UK-headquartered banks Barclays and Coutts, Standard Chartered has not pulled out of Asian private banking. In fact, the region helped income in Stan Chart’s private banking division to increase by 23% to $144m from a year ago. Stan Chart says it “continues to attract new senior relationship managers” as it gathered more than $700m in net new money in the first quarter.

…but can it be sustained?

For a large universal bank, however, Stan Chart is still a comparatively small player in Asian private banking. It managed $49.5bn in Asian assets at the end of last year and only ranked as the 14th biggest private bank in the region, behind specialist firms such as LGT and Bank of Singapore, according to Asian Private Banker. Its Asia-focused rival, HSBC, by contrast, looked after $129bn in AUM in 2017. While Stan Chart did boost its headcount of relationship managers in Asia last year to reach 350, that was only an increase of nine people. It remains to be seen whether the private bank can sustain the double-digit revenue rises it achieved in Q1.

Bread-and-butter jobs are hot

The corporate and institutional banking division saw its income rise 7% to $1,742m. But this was largely not the doing of its investment bankers (some of whom Stan Chart is trying to turn into corporate bankers). The growth instead mainly reflected “continued momentum in transaction banking, following a more than 20 per cent increase in client operating account average balances”, according to the bank’s interim management statement.

Image credit: winhorse, Getty

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