Hong Kong people love money and subscribe to the get-rich-quick philosophy. Little wonder then that this city of 6.9 million is a testament to economic achievement. Just about everyone has some knowledge of the stock market and how shares are traded. The numbers are telling a remarkable story of the fast growth of wealth, and Hong Kong is positioned right in the midst of the action. UBS, Asia Pacific's largest wealth manager, has estimated that investable liquid assets held by individuals in Asia, excluding Japan, will grow by 7.6 per cent annually between 2004 and 2008, compared with 5.9 per cent globally. This is good news not just for people making that money, but for those helping to invest it. Since Asia's economic rebound began last year, there has been a surge of recruitment opportunities in the private banking industry. UBS alone has increased its wealth management staff by more than 400 in the past year. But in an industry where experience and reputation are based on job stability that affords the opportunity to build up solid client relationships, good private bankers cannot afford to take advantage of these recruitment opportunities simply in the hope of getting fatter pay cheques or for the sake of change. 'Private bankers want stability, as do their clients,' said Philippe Legrand, head of ABN Amro's private banking activities in North Asia. 'It is one of the only fields where the longer you know the client, the better it is because you have built solid trust over time and you do not want to rock that relationship unnecessarily.' It would not only disturb the client relationship for a private banker to change organisations, it would cause the client major problems if he or she decided to follow the banker. 'You wouldn't want to put your client through the whole process of opening a new account unless it was for a very valid reason,' said Sanam Ramchandani, director of private banking at ABN Amro. And that is assuming the private banker's clients decide to follow. Usually, only a minority of clients actually transfer their assets to the banker's new establishment within the first year and sometimes it can take as long as three years for a banker to rebuild his or her business. All these factors point to why private bankers do not make a habit of changing jobs. 'Money is always a factor but a successful banker normally isn't going to leave for just a rise in pay,' said Michael Di Cicco, a director with Global Sage, an executive search firm specialising in senior recruitment for the financial sector. 'In general, I see three reasons good bankers leave,' he said. 'A change in their institution's commitment to private banking or their particular market, relationship issues with a team head or manager, or a game-changing opportunity that will let them dramatically expand their business or take on more leadership responsibility.' Since money is not the primary motivating reason, banks are now focusing much more on retention strategies and the creation of a positive employment environment. 'The job of the organisation is to create an atmosphere that is challenging and enables an individual to optimise their potential,' Mr Legrand said. 'One reason why people leave is because the company is not providing the challenges and conduits it needs to enrich bankers.' This is a common sentiment echoed by many banks, which believe people are the cornerstone of their business. 'Attracting and retaining the best people is achieved not by window dressing or by entering into a bidding war but rather by ensuring that our business and our culture are attractive to prospective employees,' said Kathryn Shih, head of UBS wealth management. Banks are now putting much more effort into training programmes and growing talent in-house, with some organisations going as far as developing university-type courses. At the end of the day, a private banker's search for the right fit with an organisation is not too different from finding a wife or husband. The banker has to take into account many considerations and decide if he or she has that compatibility with the company and if the right chemistry is there. 'It is all about chemistry. The same chemistry a relationship manager has with his or her client is the same relationship you must have with the company,' Mr Legrand said. 'Once they have found that perfect fit, you can be sure it will take a lot more to get them out of it.'