Barclays is leaking traders in Singapore and Hong Kong, but is still aiming to grow

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Barclays is leaking traders in Singapore and Hong Kong, but is still aiming to grow

At least five FX and rates traders have left Barclays in Singapore and Hong Kong since the middle of this year, with UOB and RBC among the banks to hire them. But despite the recent departures, the British bank is understood to be trying to expand its emerging-markets desk in the two cities.

The traders include Deepak Sood, Barclays’ former Singapore-based head of offshore rates trading, who is now on gardening leave. Sood declined to comment on his next destination. He joined Barclays in Mumbai in 2007 in a director-level fixed income trading role, following a four-year stint as head of interest rate trading at Axis Bank. Barclays relocated him to Singapore in 2017, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Arnold Bengco – a director in the Asian non-deliverable forwards (NDFs) trading team who only joined Barclays in September 2018 – has also exited the bank in Singapore. Bengco “led the EMFX trading franchise in Asia, responsible for setting and executing the strategic direction”, according to his LinkedIn profile. The veteran trader was at OCBC before Barclays and spent about 17 years at Citi, including a stint (2007 to 2013) as Asia head of local markets FX trading. He has not replied to a request to comment on his current whereabouts.

Meanwhile, earlier in September, Barclays Asian rates trader Darren Zhang joined Singapore-based Crescent Asset Management (which this month also hired Nomura trader Devvrat Tripathi) as an associate portfolio manager. Zhang had been with Barclays since June 2015.

Other recent moves include Rick Ho, who was hired as a director by UOB in July, having previously been an emerging-Asia rates and FX trader (also at director level) at Barclays in Hong Kong. Before joining Barclays in May last year, Ho spent four years in a similar role at Standard Chartered. He worked for Credit Suisse between 2004 and 2013, latterly as a G10 rates trader, according to his LinkedIn profile.

The fifth trader who’s left Barclays is Hong Kong-based John Chung, who was a Greater China FX and rates trader at the firm between June 2015 and May 2019. He has now resurfaced as an FX trader at RBC Capital Markets.

Barclays declined to comment on the moves.

We understand that the departing traders chose to leave, and that Barclays is now focused on growing its rates and FX business in Asia, under the leadership of MD Jerry Koo, head of EM rates trading for APAC, who joined in February. Recent hires include Singapore-based Sagar Sambrani, who joined from Bank of America Merrill Lynch in June as an Asia FX options trader, according to LinkedIn.

Chief Executive Jes Staley said in May that he wants Barclays’ corporate and investment bank (CIB) to selectively expand in Asia over the next two to three years. Asian growth is now critical to Staley’s ongoing efforts to increase his firm’s investment banking market share globally.

More specifically, the markets team within CIB wants to take on about 60 people (about a 10% to 11% rise over its current headcount), with a focus on FX trading in Singapore, and credit trading in Hong Kong, Stephen Dainton, head of global markets at Barclays, told Reuters in May.

Barclays’ CIB unit will be hiring both bankers and traders in Asia, although we understand that the bulk of these hires will be made toward the end of that period (i.e. 2021 onwards) and that the expansion is dependent on Barclays hitting global returns targets.

Last month chief executive Staley told the Financial Times that Barclays could one day re-enter Asian cash equities trading, a product it withdrew from in 2016 to focus on electronic execution-only services in cash equities as well as Asian derivatives and prime brokerage.

Image credit: Alphotographic, Getty

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