Back to school for private bankers in HK
The Hong Kong Securities Institute has introduced a training programme for private bankers, in a bid to help the city to compete with its neighbour Singapore as a private banking centre to serve the growing number of millionaires in China and Asia.
A number of private banks - CIC Investor Services, Pictet Asia, Standard Chartered Bank, Clariden Leu, and JP Morgan - said they would hire hundreds more staff in the coming years to serve the new Asian millionaires whose numbers had ballooned.
But Singapore has traditionally been the base for many private banks, in part because some universities have programmes to train students who want to become private bankers.
The Hong Kong Securities Institute, which provides training for brokers, fund managers and financial advisers, now offers a private banking course.
The institute yesterday introduced the Certified International Wealth Manager (CIWM) programme for Hong Kong, a series of courses from the Association of International Wealth Management. Such programmes have also been organised in Switzerland, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Luxemburg.
'Providing good training and qualifications for private bankers will provide more talent for the industry,' said Anthony Muh Yi-tong, chairman of HKSI. 'This will strengthen Hong Kong's role as a wealth management centre.
'When people want to be analysts, they need the CFA [Chartered Financial Analysts] qualification. The private bankers who manage money for customers will also need a qualification, such as CIWM.'
Muh hopes the CIWM qualification will become the norm for the industry, just like the CFA is now.
Claude Haberer, head of Asia wealth management operations at Swiss private bank Pictet, said: 'It's important that Hong Kong does all it can to continue upgrading the local standards.'
Jerry Chang, a director of headhunting firm Barons & Co, said the CIWM would be helpful for those who want to enter the private bank business.
'The CIWM would add value to job seekers who want to join the private banking business,' Chang said. 'For experienced private bankers, however, I think their work experience and client relationship skills would be more important.'
Applicants for the 84-hour CIWM course need three years working experience. The course studies include sections on portfolio management, estate planning and tax issues. Examinations will be held regularly starting in September for a certificate granted by the Association of International Wealth Management.
Muh said the institute next year will introduce programmes for private bankers on mainland regulations, taxes, and local customs and culture.
The number of billionaires in China, according to the Forbes list for 2011, compared with 64 last year