MBA, CFA or other? Top qualifications in Asian private banking

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Which qualification will get you a job in Asian private banking? We’ve looked through the eFinancialCareers database to identify the most prevalent qualifications among wealth managers in the region. The answer is not exactly what you’d think.

Firstly, very few people have a specialist private banking qualification. The CACS – a basic set of private-banking competency standards in Singapore that is popular among Asia’s private bankers –  is found among just 2% of wealth management professionals. Similarly, only 2% have a masters in wealth management.

Secondly, qualifications like the courses run by the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) and Investment Management Certificate (IMC), which is an introduction to the industry, aren’t big among Asia’s wealth managers – fewer than 2% have one of these too.

Thirdly – and surprisingly, a CFA qualification won’t really help your chances of getting an Asian private banking job either. Just 10% of Asian private bankers in our database mention CFA on their CV.

So what will get you a wealth management job in Asia? Try an MBA. About a quarter (24%) of wealth management professionals in Asia have an MBA, according to the eFinancialCareers CV database.


Source: eFinancialCareers

What makes the MBA so popular? Josie Ling, a consultant at search firm Eban in Singapore, says an MBA can help private banking assistants become full relationship managers. She adds that MBA-equipped candidates find it easier to talk to clients: “In Asia, a high proportion of high-net-worth clients are entrepreneurs, so RMs need to understand their business needs as well as their private financial needs.”

Rahul Sen, head of private wealth management at search firm The Omerta Group in Singapore, says MBAs also teach broad understanding of client behavioural and client management skills.

What does this mean for would-be private bankers who are studying other courses? Ling says you shouldn’t despair – particularly if you’re studying an MSc in Wealth Management. Now that Singapore Management University offers a wealth management MSc, she says the course is growing in popularity: “It focuses on client-facing skills much more than a general MBA does.”

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