StanChart hires Chan in ultra high net worth push

UK bank hires Alison May Chan as managing director to focus on developing its ultra high net worth business in greater China, adding to recent hires.

Standard Chartered has appointed Alison May Chan as managing director, ultra high net worth solutions (UHNW), private banking clients for Greater China.

The appointment took effect on January 12 and the role is a new one for the bank, reflecting its increasing focus on the UHNW segment.

In recent months, the UK-based emerging markets focused bank has been hiring within that segment, having appointed Rahul Raswant as executive director, UHNW private banking clients, and Richard Pattle as vice-chairman, private banking clients in the third quarter of 2014.

The high net worth segment has traditionally not been an area of strength for commercial lenders such as Standard Chartered but the bank clearly sees potential amid rising wealth in Asia, with China expected to drive much of that growth. 

“Asia’s UHNW population and wealth is predicted to become the largest in the world in the next 20 years”, said Stephen Richards Evans, global head, UHNW, private banking clients, in a statement. "Across Greater China, the UHNW segment currently represents a $2.4 trillion AUM [assets under management] market, up 5.8 per cent year-on-year," he added.

At Standard Chartered, an UHNW client has at least $30 million with the bank, excluding leverage.

Chan, who is based in Hong Kong and part of the global UHNW team, will focus on developing the UHNW business in Greater China. She reports to Evans and locally to Desmond Liu, head of private banking clients, Greater China.   

Chan brings with her extensive experience in the development of a UHNW strategy and coverage and support for UHNW clients. From 2011-2013, she was the managing director at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management in Asia.

More recently, she joins the bank from Julius Baer (which acquired Merrill Lynch’s international wealth arm), where she was head of North Asia business management, leading a team in the development and execution of strategy. Prior to Merrill Lynch, Chan spent five years with UBS Wealth Management as managing director, where she founded the corporate advisory business in North Asia in 2005.

Standard Chartered in February last year also hired Michael Benz as group head of private banking. Benz had been the designated chairman for Asia at Julius Baer, joining the bank in 2013 through its acquisition of Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s private banking business, where he had been chief executive for wealth management in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, California, India and Japan since 2010.

Unlike its other businesses, which have been struggling, Standard Chartered's income from private banking clients has been growing. During the third quarter of 2014, Standard Chartered's pre-tax profits fell by 16%, hit by higher loan impairments. However, income from private banking was $155 million, up 9% from the same period a year ago.

The growing private wealth business contrasts with the bank's fortunes (or lack thereof) in its equities business. Standard Chartered this month decided to abandon its loss-making global equities businesses, marking an abrupt end to a bold and expensive five-year expansion that struggled to make headway in competitive Asian markets.

The bank is closing its global institutional cash equities, equity research and equity capital markets businesses, which will result in 200 job cuts, mostly in Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, India and Indonesia, with minimal reductions in the UK and US.

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