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UBS reignites Singapore and Hong Kong hiring, takes on 87 bankers

Asia’s largest private bank, UBS, has returned to expansion mode and has been hiring more relationship managers than its rivals over the past year. Its headcount of Asian ‘client advisors’ (the name it uses for RMs) now stands at 1,095, according to the firm’s second quarter financial results.

That’s 87 more people than in Q2 last year – a significant rise in terms of recent UBS history. While its banker workforce reached similar heights (1,092) by end-2015, UBS then trimmed underperformers and its numbers fell to 1,016 a year later.

The new figures show that UBS has now abandoned redundancies in favour of recruitment. Many of the new RMs were hired into UBS’s two Hong Kong offices, in the International Finance Centre and across the harbour in Kowloon, says a source with knowledge of the bank. UBS appears to be on track with its plans, announced in May last year, to hire 100 Hong Kong-based private bankers in the two years to mid-2019.

The Swiss firm has renewed its focus on mid-tier millionaires (high-net-worth people with investable assets of $2m and above) in Hong Kong. It is recruiting RMs to service this segment even as competitors like Standard Chartered raise their thresholds for private banking clients.

UBS’s year-long hiring spree also marks it out as the most aggressive recruiter in the Asian private banking sector. Taking on 50 bankers within 12 months – as both Morgan Stanley and Deutsche did in 2017 – is considered well above market average. Adding 87 is exceptional.

But has UBS’s hiring paid off in terms of banker productivity? It appears so. Assets under management per banker at UBS in Asia (regional AUM divided by banker headcount) have increased 12% year on year, from $316.5bn to $353.4bn.

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: smortlock@efinancialcareers.com

Image credit: sivarock, Getty

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AUTHORSimon Mortlock Content Manager

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