Barclays names new Hong Kong chief as sector woes deepen
Appointment of Anthony Davies comes after the bank announced massive job losses in Asia-Pacific early this year
Anthony Davies has been appointed chief executive of Barclays Bank’s Hong Kong branch, according to an internal company statement seen by the South China Morning Post.
The move, which comes at a challenging time for banks in Hong Kong, is Barclays’ first high-level appointment in Asia-Pacific after the firm announced significant job losses in the region at the start of this year.
According to the internal memorandum, which was sent by Asia-Pacific chief executive Andrew Jones, Davies will assume his new role alongside his existing responsibilities as Hong Kong country manager and co-head of senior relationship management for Asia ex-Japan.
In January, Barclays announced that it would remove 1,200 jobs worldwide and close its investment banking operations in seven countries in Asia-Pacific. These included Australia, South Korea and Taiwan, which the bank said would be covered from other locations.
“Hong Kong is a key location in Asia for Barclays alongside Tokyo, Singapore and India,” the internal note said, adding that Barclays Hong Kong was critical to its global business.
Louis Tse Ming-kwong, a director at VC Brokerage, said: “There is a hard slog ahead for banks in Hong Kong.” He cited the slowdown in mainland China, uncertainty over the direction of interest rates in Hong Kong and changes in mortgage regulations as contributing factors.
“In general, the banking sector is suffering, and in the near term will continue to suffer until interest rates become clearer,” he added.
On June 2, Bank of East Asia announced that it would close 22 branches in its securities operation, resulting in the loss of 180 jobs.
Last year, lenders in the city on average saw their pre-tax profit decrease 2.8 per cent, the worst year for the sector since 2008.
Jerry Chang, managing director of executive search firm Barron’s, said: “The overall recruitment environment in the banking sector is subdued at present. Banks are continuing to hire staff, but they are being cautious about it, and potential candidates are being careful about making a move as well.”
According to Barclays’ internal note, Davies has more than 25 years’ experience in Asian financial markets, with most of this time spent covering financial institutions. He joined the bank in 2010 and was appointed Hong Kong country manager in March this year.