Global Private Banks' Entry Strains Thailand's Relationship Manager Pool

Thailand's wealth market is experiencing a rapid growth, but this boom is coupled with a severe shortage of skilled relationship managers (RMs).

According to industry insiders, international private banks expanding into the Thai market are intensifying this shortage.

The recent establishment of BNP Paribas Wealth Management in Thailand is a testament to the increased global interest in the country's burgeoning wealth sector. Additionally, local Thai banks, lured by the potential of consistent revenue streams, have also been enhancing their focus on wealth management. This shift has been further mirrored by smaller financial entities, including stock and insurance brokers, aiming to capitalize on this growth.

Poksunart Chitmunchaitham, a director at SCB Asset Management, notes the rising challenge is in locating seasoned professionals. "The ultra-high-net-worth clientele in Thailand is growing, but there aren't enough adept or experienced individuals to cater to these clients," he remarked.

The swift rise in demand for experienced RMs is resulting in wage inflation, especially as foreign entities are keen on recruiting established RMs. Narit Kosalathip, the head of wealth management at Kiatnakin Phatra Securities, highlights the competitive edge of international banks. He points out that not only do these banks generally offer higher salaries, but they also present a broader array of products and services, which appeal to both RMs and their clientele.

Chitmunchaitham further elaborates, stating that seasoned local private bankers are often drawn to foreign banks for better career prospects and a more comprehensive product range to cater to their clients.

In response, local banks are striving to retain their quality RMs. Kitiwat Nanthawatsiri, from United Overseas Bank (Thai), suggests that attractive incentive programs can be a solution amidst this fierce competition.

One approach to address the dearth of experienced RMs has been for banks to nurture in-house talent. Some institutions have even begun retraining corporate and retail bank staff to fill RM roles. However, Kosalathip cautions that despite these efforts, very few of these retrained RMs possess the intricate knowledge and skills crucial for private banking.

Win Phromphaet of Bank of Ayudhya emphasizes the evolving demands of younger, tech-savvy clients. While they lean towards digital platforms and personal investment decisions, they still value insightful advice from trusted RMs. As such, RMs of the future will need to enhance their global investment knowledge, especially concerning private assets, he asserts.