A bank grows headcount by 40% and won’t stop hiring

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Fancy working for a bank that has been expanding for three years and still needs more staff? Then send your CV to Bank of Singapore (BoS), a private bank formed in 2010 when its parent company, OCBC, took over ING Asia Private Bank.

BoS’ total headcount, including non-client facing staff, has since grown by about 40%, from just over 700 at the end of 2010, to nearly 1,000 in March 2013. Most of these employees are based in Singapore, although BoS is expanding its Hong Kong office as well.

“We also have almost doubled the number of relationship managers in the last three years and now have close to 290 RMs of various nationalities serving clients globally,” said Renato de Guzman, CEO, Bank of Singapore. The bank is continuing to recruit RMs, according to private banking headhunters in Asia.

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So far this year BoS has announced a range of senior hires from global rivals, including Frances Lee from UBS, Michael Chan from Coutts, Nancy Lin from Guosen Securities, and Joel Lim from HSBC.

Renato told us that his firm has attracted such talent because of its “unique position as a Singapore-headquartered private bank” as well as the financial strength of its parent company. OCBC was ranked second on Bloomberg’s recent survey of the world’s strongest banks.

“BoS has been relatively successful in hiring relationship managers as the brand has been cleverly associated with the stability, reliability and efficiency of Singapore,” said John Koh, managing director of the Wealth Management Resource Centre in Singapore.

“In Southeast Asia, many high-net-worth families are familiar with OCBC and are all too happy to bring their assets to its subsidiary private bank following the aftermath of the financial crisis,“ Koh added.

The firm hasn't had to pay above market rate to recruit new bankers either, said Rahul Sen, a director at search firm Sheffield Haworth in Singapore. “A lot of senior private bankers are now more open to Asian names since the US, Swiss and UK houses have gone through some pain recently with losses and fines.”

And while BoS may be a new brand, its recruitment pulling power has also been boosted by it having retained an established group of ING Asia bankers, who stayed on following the takeover.

But joining BoS comes with some potential disadvantages, according to a Singapore-based headhunter who asked not to be named. “There are constraints associated with working for a local bank – for example bureaucracy and a limited footprint outside Asia.”

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