Swiss private bank Julius Baer is looking to double its staff numbers in Asia by 2015, to more than 1,000, as it seeks to tap the region's fast-growing pool of newly rich individuals.
"On a net basis we will more than double our staff in Asia between now and 2015," Boris Collardi, Julius Baer chief executive, told the South China Morning Post.
The ambitious goal follows a shrinking of the bank's profit margin last year because of poorer trading activities and the announcement of a global lay-off target of 1,000 people last October, after it bought Bank of America Merrill Lynch's private banking business in August.
Julius Baer has about 500 employees, while the unit it acquired has 700 to 800 staff. Some duplicated positions may go following the merger, but that does not mean it will stop hiring, Collardi said.
The priority involves bankers, particularly those with longstanding client relationships. More than 10 relationship managers were hired in Hong Kong last year, said Kaven Leung, deputy chief executive for Asia.
It will also look for more investment experts in the region to cater to the demand of the rising new rich, who are usually younger and bigger risk takers than Julius Baer clients in Europe, said Collardi. Asian clients look for investment returns of about 10 to 20 per cent, far higher than the 3 to 5 per cent investment return expected in Europe, he said.
The private bank is seeking to grow the share of Asian assets in its investment portfolio from the current 10 to 15 per cent to around 20 to 25 per cent by 2015, according to Collardi. Looking forward, he said Vietnam could outshine the rest of the region on the back of a good economy and its demographics.
Mainland Chinese have become big spenders, particularly on wealth management products. Their rising wealth has made them a key target of global private bankers. According to the Global Wealth Report 2012 released by Credit Suisse this week, mainland China had 964,000 US dollar millionaires by mid-2012.