Veteran Asian private banker returns to Standard Chartered after 11 years, makes managing director

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Standard Chartered has rehired veteran private banker Joseph Tam, formerly of Industrial Bank, as a Hong Kong-based managing director and deputy market head. Tam joined Stan Chart’s private bank in August, having previously worked for the firm between 2004 and 2008. His focus is on the mainland China market, says a spokesperson for Stan Chart.

China coverage specialists like Tam are the most sought-after private bankers in Hong Kong (and are also becoming more in demand in Singapore) as mainland millionaires and billionaires look to invest more of their wealth offshore. Tam brings an extensive Chinese network to Stan Chart, having previously worked for two Chinese-owned firms: Industrial Bank (2016 to 2019), and China Merchant Bank subsidiary Wing Lung (2014 to 2016). He established Wing Lung’s private banking platform was head of private banking for Hong Kong at both firms, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Tam is also an example of someone who’s successfully transitioned from corporate banking to private banking. During his previous stint at Stan Chart, Tam was a wholesale banking team head for the Pearl River Delta region, based in Shenzhen. He then moved to Hong Kong and worked in private banking management positions at HSBC (2008 to 2012) and Credit Suisse (2012 to 2014), focusing on the China offshore market.

His career change appears well timed. Large banks with wealth management arms – such as UBS, Credit Suisse and Stan Chart – are increasingly trying to cross-sell corporate and investment banking products to entrepreneurial private clients. Senior managers like Tam, who can bridge the gap between private banking and other divisions, are increasingly in demand as a result. Tam’s online profile mentions his ability to work “across different business units including private equity, asset management, and investment banking”.

Tam will likely have a lot on his plate now that he’s returned to Standard Chartered. Despite Stan Chart making most of its overall profits from Asia, the firm’s private bank is comparatively small, ranking as the 12th largest private bank in Asia by assets under management in 2018. That year Stan Chart ranked only 18th for AUM per relationship manager – its average RM managed $197.1m, according to Asian Private Banker.

This year, however, there have been some positive signs. Although still substantially smaller than Stan Chart’s corporate and institutional, retail and commercial banking arms, private banking made an underlying profit of $100m for the first six months of 2019, compared with a $5m loss in H2 last year, according to the firm’s first-half financial results. Private banking also attracted $1.7bn in net new money and grew income 13% year on year.

Earlier this year Stan Chart’s private bank lost Hong Kong-based managing directors Ray Li, Teddy Kwong and Peter Lam. Still, Tam’s new move is proof of an on ongoing recruitment drive at Stan Chart in North Asia, says former Merrill Lynch private banker Rahul Sen, now a global leader in private wealth management at search firm Boyden.

Stan Chart appeals to some relationship managers as a sleeping giant of the Asian wealth sector, whose business could become more profitable if it can better cross sell more products from its commercial banking and corporate and institutional banking divisions to business-owning private clients. “There are tremendous opportunities for its RMs, if Stan Chart can, for example, offer more commercial banking lending and capital markets transactions,” says Sen.

Image credit: danielvfung, Getty

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