Goldman boosts private banking

Goldman creates new Asian CIO and poaches high profile private bankers from HSBC Private Bank.

In a move that signals a major push by Goldman Sachs in Asian private banking, it has moved one of its fixed income stars into a new Asia CIO position and hired a team of highly regarded private bankers from HSBC Private Bank. The move signals Goldman's attempt to reach critical mass in Asia's fast growing private client business - with market rumours suggesting the HSBC team has brought some very senior high net worth client relationships and assets with them.

The chief investment officer (CIO) for Asia role has been filled by Fan Jiang, Goldman's former head of fixed income research. A mainland Chinese, Jiang has worked in Hong Kong since 1995, having been in the US before that - spending 11 years at Goldman in the fixed income division. He has long been regarded as one of the region's premier credit analysts, and it is thought he will fit into the private banking world well since he can talk urbanely about almost any subject - whether it be gold, a revaluation of the renminbi, or Russian cinema.

Goldman's private client business has CIOs in New York and London, but lacked the same role in Asia. However, the firm's senior people began to realise that many big trends are being driven out of this region - such as the rise in commodity prices - and having a CIO on the ground in Asia was essential to intellectualise these trends for the overall asset allocation process.

Goldman had briefly appointed Gerald Dennig as Asia CIO, but he left after a short stint to set up his own hedge fund, and work with a prominent Hong Kong family.

The seven-strong team hired from HSBC will also give Goldman critical mass in the key Hong Kong market, where most of their relationships reside. The team is led by Helena Koo, who ran a team of 10 relationship managers at HSBC - managing the ultra high net worth segment. She will become a managing director at Goldman and head of Greater China private banking. Prior to HSBC (where she arrived thanks to the Republic acquisition) she spent 14 years running Chase's North Asian private banking business.

The Chase connection also runs to Vivien Webb, who joins Goldman as an executive director and brings strong Hong Kong and Indonesian client relationships. She worked alongside Koo at Chase, and is similarly regarded as one of Hong Kong's most formidable private bankers alongside the likes of Audrey Lo and UBS boss, Kathryn Shih. Likewise in this category is Ronnie Wong who covers Hong Kong and Taiwan and also joins as an executive director. The other team members include Mimi Ng, Jacinta Lee, Belinda Chan and Catina Lo.

Their arrival will add clout to the Hong Kong team, which up till now comprised nine private bankers.

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