Morgan Stanley to boost wealth business in HK, S'pore with more staff

HONG KONG/MUMBAI • Morgan Stanley plans to add dozens of staff to its wealth business in Hong Kong and Singapore, signalling its confidence in the world's fastest-growing region when it comes to minting millionaires.

The New York-based bank is looking to add 30 to 35 private bankers in the two cities this year, Asia-Pacific wealth head Vincent Chui said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Hong Kong yesterday.

"Our continued expansion and growth will be a matter for us to accelerate in 2020," he said. The additional relationship managers "would perhaps translate into at least 50 or 60 more customer service, risk and product specialists".

Mr Chui spoke a day after Morgan Stanley reported record profit for 2019, helped in part by its wealth business, which makes up more than half of its revenue.

The hiring plans contrast with job cuts at UBS Group, which began culling headcount in both Europe and Asia as new wealth co-head Iqbal Khan seeks to make his mark on the business.

In 2018, Morgan Stanley ranked fifth by client assets among private banks in Asia, excluding China, according to Asian Private Banker.

Wealth creation, particularly in second-tier Chinese cities and other parts of Asia, continues "very, very strongly", said Mr Chui.

Meanwhile, Barclays is embarking on a plan to cut about 100 senior jobs, mostly in trading roles across its corporate and investment bank, as the lender seeks to rein in costs.

The British bank has started trimming mainly managing director and director positions in London and Asian financial hubs, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified as the details are not public.


A spokesman for Barclays in London declined to comment on the cuts, which are among the first to be implemented by a major investment bank this year.

Last year saw several European lenders reshape their securities units, shedding thousands of roles amid increasing competition from their peers in the United States, and a lacklustre home market.

Mr Jonathan Kitei, head of securitised product sales for Americas; Mr Tim Johnston, head of Europe, the Middle East and Africa cash high-touch trading and sales; and Mr Anindya Das Gupta, head of treasury in India, are leaving Barclays as part of the cuts, people familiar with the matter said. All three declined to comment.

About a dozen positions in Asia have been hit, though the cuts will not result in a retreat from any business or market in the region, one of the people said.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2020, with the headline 'Morgan Stanley to boost wealth business in HK, S'pore with more staff'. Print Edition | Subscribe