As Asia’s economies continue to grow and develop, private banks in Singapore and Hong Kong – Asia’s financial hubs – are well-placed to expand their banking operations to support the growing number of HNWIs in the region.
While Asia represents a good opportunity to start a career in private banking, the industry does have a reputation for being difficult to break into. But if you’re determined to embark on a private banking career in Asia, here are 5 tips to get your foot through the door.
1. Speak the Language
While speaking fluent English is a basic necessity, learning a second language will help you understand the cultural norms and build better relationships with HNWIs in Asia. With the emergence of China as a global superpower, there should be little problem finding a cost-efficient course on conversational and business Mandarin. As with learning any new language, the motivated learner should take special care in finding adequate scenarios to apply the language outside of the courses – hence strengthening their command. While Mandarin is the official language of both China and Hong Kong, the de facto language spoken in Hong Kong is actually Cantonese – a Mandarin dialect originating from the Guangdong Province in Southern China.
2. Brush-up on Market and Technical Knowledge
The new wave of Asian HNWIs are first or second generation business owners who are ambitious about growing their wealth and are not afraid of taking a hands-on approach when it comes to wealth management decisions. Accordingly, they are likely to be inquisitive about financial products and well-versed with basic financial technicalities and market news. With financial products becoming more sophisticated, Asian HNWIs need private bankers who have a good reading on the pulse of Asian markets, tied with solid recommendations on the most suitable financial products.
3. Consider Starting in China
Although most consider Hong Kong and Singapore to be the new centres of global private banking, the industry can be difficult to break into due to the number of established private banks as well as private bankers already in the country. China, on the other hand, has a fast-growing pool of HNWIs and a strong demand for private bankers to service these individuals. The fourth China Wealth Report developed by Bain & Company in collaboration with China Merchants Bank revealed that China’s HNWI population burgeoned to more than a million in 2014. If you are looking to break into Asia, China could just be the launch-pad you are after.
4. Get Qualified
Interestingly, eFinancialCareers found that only 10% of wealth managers in Asia possess a CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) qualification, while only 2% are CACS (Client Advisor Competency Standards) certified and 24% possess the top qualification of an MBA. As a large number of Asian HNWIs are entrepreneurs who still manage the day-to-day operations of their company, private bankers who can understand their business as well as private financial needs through formal, professional and credible training are becoming increasingly valuable.
5. Associate Programmes
Already have an MBA? Consider applying for private banking associate programmes offered by various banks in Singapore and Hong Kong. These programmes provide financial institutions with the opportunity to assess the suitability of candidates with an MBA before hiring them for full-time positions, and present a great way to break into a private banking career in Asia. Major banks in the region such as Credit Suisse, UBS, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan offer intern associate or full-time associate programmes.
Private banking in Asia continues to be an exciting prospect, but as with all alluring careers, individuals hoping to break in certainly need to build an edge over others.