Malaysia Faces Private Banking Talent Crunch Amid Growing Wealth Sector

In the burgeoning landscape of Malaysia's onshore wealth markets, the scarcity of adept private bankers poses a significant hurdle.

The nation's wealth sector is still in its growth phase when compared to established hubs such as Hong Kong and Singapore.

The task of hiring proficient relationship managers, capable of offering comprehensive advice on intricate matters and assisting clients in fortifying their investment portfolios, stands out as a primary challenge. OCBC Bank (Malaysia) Berhad's wealth investment arm, the Bank of Singapore, began its operations in Malaysia in June 2022, with Joey Pang at its helm.

However, another predicament arises in retaining such talent. A notable shift of assets is observed from one private bank to another as relationship managers with substantial client bases are highly sought after, a point highlighted by Edwin Leong of RHB Group Asset Management (Malaysia and Singapore). This migration accentuates the need for private banks to devise strategies to reward and retain relationship managers, especially given the varied career options available to the younger generation, ranging from online marketing to social media influencing.

The decision for potential bank employees typically hinges on factors like the bank's reputation, the allure of its compensation packages, and the efficacy of its technological support infrastructure.

To address the talent gap, many institutions, including OCBC Bank, have focused on internal growth and skill development. Initiatives involve comprehensive banking education and hands-on experience, supervised by seasoned mentors, aiming to mold young aspirants for the future.

The attractiveness of Malaysia as a promising onshore proposition for private banks is undeniable. Forecasts from a 2021 Knight Frank Wealth Report suggest a 43% surge in ultra-high-net-worth individuals in the country by 2026. Given the evolving expectations of clients, private bankers are increasingly compelled to expand their expertise across varied assets, markets, and structures. Pang underscores the importance of identifying individuals exhibiting leadership, problem-solving prowess, and an appetite for novel challenges to meet the industry's growing demands.