Leader seeks to stay on top with a broader range of instruments

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 15 June, 2007, 12:00am

Demand for wealth management services has seen explosive growth in the past few years, transforming the face of private banking and providing a host of new challenges for professionals in the sector.

Chief executive for wealth management in the Asia-Pacific region Kathryn Shih has been well placed to observe the process of evolution in the course of her career and to have a significant hand in shaping it.

'There has been a huge amount of change,' said Ms Shih, who started as a client adviser with Swiss Bank Corporation (SBC) about 20 years ago and is now working with the 'second generation' for certain customers.

'I was the third client adviser to join SBC. I developed my own clientele and, after seven years, took over as the head of private banking in Hong Kong.'

The 1998 merger with Union Bank of Switzerland created a much larger organisation and a sustained period of corporate expansion. There are now about 250 UBS advisers in Hong Kong and 800 in Asia.

Ms Shih has been heading the bank's regional operations since 2002 and has played a leading role in the move towards providing new structured products and more derivatives.

'In the early days, clients always asked me to get results better than the money markets, but now we have absolute return portfolios with derivatives and can hedge the risk, so financial engineering has helped to make clients' wishes come true.

'We are constantly crossing new borders and want to be part of the new big thing in the industry - whatever it is. For me, it has certainly been an exciting 20 years.'