Nowhere is this trend more prevalent than in Asia, as local wealth managers multiply and merge, and global banks seek to capitalize on the spread of wealth into emerging markets.
Melanie Alciati, assistant director at the Career Development Centre of global business school INSEAD, says there is high demand for wealth managers in mainland China, Hong Kong and Singapore in particular.
“[Wealth management] offices are looking to cater to the non-resident Indian population, and aim to have access to a stream of talent to address that market,” she says.
Full-service banks are recruiting the most and have dedicated MBA recruitment paths. “However, we do see specialist wealth managers coming to INSEAD looking for very specific profiles, for instance to cover specific regions and portfolios of clients,” says Christelle Cuenin, assistant director of corporate partnership development at INSEAD.
The slow rise of digital in the wealth management sector is reaching a tipping point.
In an interview with BusinessBecause, Jean François Mazaud, head of Société Générale Private Banking, says: “With the rise of digital, clients have developed new habits and expectations. They want us to provide them easy access to all our products and services, anywhere, anytime, but still emphasize the importance of human interactions when necessary.”
Wealth management recruitment is focused on regions with notable private wealth growth, according to Tony Somers, director of the Career Management Centre at HEC Paris, a top business school in Europe.
Credit Suisse has expanded its wealth management operations in South America, and plans to open new offices in Brazil; UBS plans to hire more for its wealth management business, and plans to open offices in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte, the bank said.
This shift comes as banks pull out of more risky investment banking activities. Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland have announced plans to slash investment banking headcount significantly this year. “We have seen that wealth management has more hiring potential than investment banking,” says Tony.
The high salaries associated with wealth and asset management has made the career paths more attractive.
“Salaries in the wealth management sector are higher,” says Elisa Zagami, head of career development at leading Italian business school MIP Politecnico di Milano, than other areas of the financial services industry.
Smaller boutique banks are stepping into the breach left by western lenders as they retrench from international markets.
“There are opportunities with small, boutique firms,” says Paula Quinton-Jones, director of career services at Hult International Business School, which value niche experience and regional familiarity.
Still, moves by big banks have pulled in headlines. Deutsche Bank has bolstered recruitment for its asset and wealth management business over the past year in both the US and Asia Pacific, according to the bank.
And BNY Mellon has opened eight new private banking offices in the past four years, increasing its portfolio managers and private bankers by 6%, it said.
Having readymade connections for potential private bank clients is an advantage.
“An existing network of clients or an ability to business develop effectively is an essential component to being successful within private banking,” says Paul Schoonenberg, head of MBA careers at Aston Business School.
This is particularly the case across Asia, where business is based on guanxi, an intricate network of personal and business contacts, says Patrick Lecomte, an executive director for the advanced Master in Financial Techniques at ESSEC Business School.
“As Asian private bankers are increasingly in charge of a smaller pool of clients with larger aum [assets under management], relationships built over time are essential in private bankers’ long term careers,” he says.
A regulatory clampdown on wealth managers means banks are seeking more regulatory knowledge in new recruits. “Regulatory and compliance issues are high priority,” says Pauline Ma, senior MBA career coach at GWU School of Business.