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UOB flexes hiring muscles and snares Bank of Singapore MD

UOB Private Bank has hired a new Singapore-based market head for Indonesia as its headcount expansion continues apace.

Clarence Lee joined UOB last month from Bank of Singapore, where he was a managing director, according to his online profile. Lee had risen steadily up the ranks at BoS. He started as an associate director in 2010, was promoted to director three years later, became an executive director in 2014, and reached MD earlier this year.

Lee’s hire demonstrates the emerging power of UOB Private Bank to attract talent from larger rivals in Asian wealth management. Bank of Singapore’s headcount of Asia-based relationship managers was 430 at the end of 2017, the fourth highest of any private bank in the region, while UOB took 13th place with a 144-strong RM workforce, according to the latest figures from Asian Private Banker.

But in contrast to earlier this decade – when the firm was somewhat of an also-ran in private banking – UOB now has a strong growth story to sell candidates, say headhunters. As recently as 2015, UOB only employed 63 RMs, so its bench strength has doubled in just two years.

Asian assets under management, meanwhile, rose 32.8% year on year in 2017 to $34.3bn. This expansion was partly led by a three-fold increase in discretionary portfolio management assets, in which UOB’s advisers initiate and execute trades based on agreed criteria without seeking client approval for each transaction.

In Lee’s case, the UOB job is also a step-up career wise. At BoS, Lee was an investment counsellor (IC) who became head of the IC Indonesia team in 2015 and added the Philippines, Australia, Thailand and Indochina to his IC remit over the next three years. At UOB, however, Lee’s market-head role also gives him broader responsibilities over the private bank’s whole Indonesia business, including its RMs. “It’s a big new challenge being a market head compared with even a senior IC,” says a private banking headhunter.

Lee has 16 years of experience in private banking, global markets and wealth management. Prior to Bank of Singapore, he spent about three years as an AVP at DBS, working on pricing and executing treasury products for that firm’s private banking and consumer banking businesses.

UOB hasn't just been hiring in private banking of late. As we reported last week, it has also just taken on a chief information security officer, Tobias Gondrom, from Chinese technology giant Huawei.

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Image credit: XiXinXing, Getty

AUTHORSimon Mortlock Content Manager

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