Friday, June 12, 2009

How to Become a Private Banker

Under the current financial turbulence, rich people loss a lot of their money. Well, likewise for the poor and the general public. As rich people would need to re-build their strategy and get their wealth well managed, why not consider starting a private banking career? This site is one place to start, to find business courses that may help you develop a finance career.

Last year, just before world market slumped, I clipped this article in my file. I think it is a good time to share it with you. Pay attention to the Entry level hires, as it contains valuable information for those who wants to start a private banking career.

The draw of private banking
PRIVATE banking, which used to be a second class cousin to investment banking, has in recent years been attracting top graduates here and in the region. This is in part due to a growing population of millionaires, Singapore's positioning as the world's wealth management hub and, of course, increasingly attractive remuneration.

Says Fock Siew Tong, associate dean of Nanyang Business School and a former private banker: 'The two most preferred banking niche areas that top graduates are pursuing in the last few years are in investment banking and wealth management, specifically private banking. However, given the prevailing turmoil in the global financial market, a consequence of the sub-prime crisis, private banking takes added precedence in terms of career choice in the banking industry.'

But landing a top job as a wealth management trainee in top North American and European banks is not a simple task since limited hires are done at entry level.

In most private banks or wealth management arms of global investment banks, the number of junior banker positions - which is where fresh graduates typically start off - usually makes up only a mere 10-20 per cent of a private bank. Even with the increase in new hires over the past two years, private banking is still very much dominated by experienced senior bankers.

Entry level hires
For entry level hires, the competition is very stiff with many top graduates vying for these direct positions in wealth management trainee programmes.

'Over the past two years, there have only been approximately 200 to 300 entry level hires in Singapore, which again emphasises on the prestige and difficulty in landing a top private banking job upon graduation,' says Gary Lai, front office banking manager of headhunting firm Robert Walters.
'Alternatively, the easiest route for undergrads who aspire to become future private bankers is to start off as a personal banker and progress on from there. This would be relatively easier compared to the direct entry to one of the wealth management trainee programmes since it is not uncommon to see many undergrads competing head on for a very limited number of positions in the latter case.'

A good mix of academic excellence, an active involvement in co-curricular activities and an outgoing personality are some of the qualities hirers are looking out for when making their full time hires. Those who make the cut and qualify for the wealth management trainee programmes can expect first year salaries in the region of S$60,000-S$80,000 annually.

'Having an outgoing personality, being presentable and able to articulate well with confidence are all pertinent attributes of a private banker,' adds Mr Lai.

'Candidates should read up on the bank they are interviewing with, talk to people within the private banking circle to have a clearer understanding of this position they are interviewing for. They should also show passion and commitment by doing their own research to obtain a broad understanding of whole spectrum of private banking products. It is also an added bonus if the candidate has a good network of HNWIs (high net worth individuals).'

It would also help if budding private bankers show that they have some broad technical knowledge in a variety of financial products, says Dr Fock. 'They (budding private bankers) need to be well dressed, suave and yet discreet in terms of mannerism,' he adds. 'In addition, they should have a disposition that is warm and sensitive to a client's needs. Having a foundational exposure to accountancy or banking and finance during college will also be helpful.'

New private banking recruits can expect to be put through rigorous in-house training programmes lasting three to five years. They are usually guided by mentors, typically senior colleagues. 'These apprentices and mentors, together with their clients will typically go through the wealth cycle that involves wealth creation, wealth enhancement, wealth preservation and wealth disposition stage,' says Dr Fock.

'And it is through these extensive apprenticeship programmes that apprentices understand the real business of private banking which go beyond understanding the financial investment needs of the immediate client and often extend to that of servicing the needs of the client's family - providing advice for buying overseas properties and even setting up a trust to provide the operating financial charges for the client's children overseas.'
The outlook for private banking has never been rosier than in the last two years. And opportunities still abound for the private banking industry in Singapore.

'Despite current market volatility, we believe that the wealth management sector in Asia will continue to thrive with the incessant pace of wealth creation as driven by the new generation of entrepreneurs,' says Akbar Shah, managing director and region head of Citi Private Bank. 'Growth will come from Singapore and other established markets like Hong Kong, Taiwan and Indonesia.

'And Singapore remains an attractive choice for wealth managers looking to locate their headquarters in Asia and is poised to experience even greater growth in the near future. Its geographical position gives it ideal proximity to one of the most vibrant economic regions, which encompasses India, Greater China and South-east Asia.'

This article was first published in The Business Times on Jun 9, 2008

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S.A said...

Great article and great website. I have spent the summer analysing my career prospects and have recently decided to go for a graduate scheme in Wealth Management. I currently am a final year undergraduate in the UK, and due to various circumstances I was unable to apply for an internship. However I have been proactive and have involved myself with various charitable schemes which involve a mixture of fundraising, coordinating events and mentoring. In addition to this I currently hold a sales role in a leading retailer in the city and have secured a placement in at a local reputable accountancy firm for the remaining vacation period. I would be grateful if you could recommend any online literature that would assist me during my application process.

Kind regards,

Anna Maria D'Souza said...

I'm glad you are aggressively planning your career. Vault and Wetfeet sell a lot of i-banking related books which are not bad but expensive. I usually don't recommend to buy. Below I've some free online reading material about private banking and asset management which you might find useful.

Laura said...

Wow, this is great site and graet article. Thanks a lot for sharing this important information on Investment Banking Resumes.

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Gerard said...

Great article. What is the environment / opportunity like for investment bankers looking to make the move into private banking with 3+ years experience / Associate level? Thanks!

Anna Maria D'Souza said...

Opportunities here are great but competition also keen. Good luck.