Singapore: Standard Chartered said on Tuesday it plans to hire about 850 relationship managers for its priority banking service over the next 12-18 months, to gain a larger market share of wealthy customers in Asia.
“Priority has outperformed the market in the last few years,” StanChart’s global head of premium banking Foo Mee Har told Reuters in an interview.
“We have aspirations to double the industry growth rate and double our customer numbers in three years.”
Foo said household wealth in Asia excluding Japan is expected to grow by 12% per annum between 2008 and 2012, and Asia-focused StanChart hoped to expand its priority banking business at twice the pace.
Foo said about 430 of the new hires will be in Greater China, while Singapore and Malaysia will each add over 100 relationship managers in the next 12-18 months. The new hires will make an increase of 65% from around 1,300 priority banking relationship managers currently.
The bank has already relaunched its priority banking service in Hong Kong and Singapore and plans to do so in China, Taiwan, Korea, Malaysia, India and the United Arab Emirates in coming months.
Priority banking services are aimed at owners of small and medium enterprises as well as senior executives who typically can invest assets of more than $100,000 with the bank.
The perks include access to personal relationship managers, separate queues at bank branches, access to loans at preferential rates and help in setting up new accounts in different countries.
Banks that currently cater to this customer segment on an Asia-wide basis include Citigroup, HSBC and Singapore’s DBS Group.
StanChart, which has emerged relatively unscathed from the global financial crisis, completed the acquisition of Cazenove Asia in January and its corporate bank has been hiring top executives from rivals.
Singapore-based Foo, who was previously CEO of StanChart Thailand, said the British bank has benefitted from the financial crisis and was attracting new deposits amid a “flight to quality” as customers moved their savings towards stronger lenders.
While sale of investment products had fallen over the past year, StanChart’s priority banking service has benefitted from a growth in mortgage loans, and it is winning market share in Hong Kong and Singapore where home sales have soared in recent months.
“We have been able to capture increased market share in the mortgage area where we have seen, in the first half, strong property transactions in Hong Kong, Singapore and Korea,” she said.
The bank estimates its share of new mortgages in Hong Kong at 19% currently, up from 13% last year. In Singapore, its share of new home loans has grown to 22%.
Foo declined to reveal the number of priority banking customers at Stanchart.
StanChart said earlier this year that it was reorganising its consumer banking operations away from product sales to focus on customer segments, and identified priority banking as a key area.