Amid the overcast economic outlook, Hong Kong appears to be a bright light beckoning a host of financial companies, all vying for continuing growth. In the past year, Barclays Wealth - the eponymous bank's global wealth management arm - has seen a four-fold growth in interest in its private banking services in Greater China in terms of high net worth clients with at least US$3 million (about HK$23.3 million) assets to invest.
Therefore, Barclays Wealth will continue to focus in 2012 on this part of Asia Pacific, aiming to more than double its assets under management in Hong Kong, China and Taiwan in the coming three years.
A relative newcomer in wealth management to North Asia, Barclays Wealth has a total of over 100 bankers in Hong Kong and Singapore, and is planning to increase the collective headcount by 50 per cent in these two offices by the end of 2012.
"We will focus on hiring and growing the proportion of our senior bankers at director and managing director level," says Pakorn Boonya-kurkul, head of North Asia, Barclays Wealth. "We will be looking for private bankers who have more than 15 years of experience."
With a history of over 300 years in banking, and an A+ long-term credit rating, Barclays Wealth in Hong Kong offers those wishing to join a young and entrepreneurial spirit in a start-up type of environment. "We look for people with a pioneering spirit and outlook, who are able to actively contribute and who want to be part of our growth," Pakorn says.
The bank looks for five key skills. These include passion for service that drive its private bankers to be there for their high net worth clients at all times.
It needs people with good technical knowledge, who have both broad and in-depth knowledge of various financial instruments, and the diverse range of products offered by Barclays Wealth. This is to ensure that the clients receive appropriate advice and suitable financial solutions, according to their risk ability and risk appetite.
Trust and integrity demand that bankers understand and follow the regulations and ethical standards of the market in which they operate.
Bankers also have to have the drive to achieve their targets; and self-discipline, because there is no fixed schedule for their daily work.
In addition, personal and interpersonal skills are paramount, to establish and maintain an excellent long-term relationship with the client. "Private banking is a people-led and relationship-led business, and we have to make sure the cultural fit is right," says Pakorn.
"A private banker joining Barclays Wealth will have several meetings with senior management before being hired, to ensure they fit," he adds.
The bank offers regular training and career development opportunities, and international rotations when possible.