"South Asia is a major growth area and focus for Barclays Wealth and Investment Management (WIM) and Singapore’s strategic location is a natural home for our Asia business," said Rob Withecombe, global head of wealth advisory at Barclays, in an interview with PBI.
"Given this backdrop, it is a natural location for investment in wealth advisory resources as we find our clients look to us for wealth structuring advice," he said.
Barclays WIM unit has more than 30 bankers in North Asia and almost 70 bankers in South Asia.
The 2012 hiring plan is to have over 50 bankers in North Asia and just over 80 in South Asia.
Its wealth advisory practice is noticeably smaller; with four wealth advisers in Hong Kong and three in Singapore, but globally the unit has been expanding steadily.
The 470-strong wealth advisory unit is targeting growth in pre-tax profit of more than 35% between 2011 to 2014.
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It is three years since Withecombe took over the wealth advisory business and it now operates in 12 jurisdictions: the UK, Jersey, the Isle of Man, Guernsey, Geneva, Cayman, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, the US, Monaco and Dubai.
Prior to his time at Barclays, Withecombe was head of tax at consultancy Grant Thornton UK from 2006 to 2009.
In the past 12 months, he has boosted the senior leadership of the bank’s wealth advisory team with the notable hires of Deepak Malhotra earlier this year and Andrew Tailby-Faulkes in July 2011.
In February this year, the bank extended its wealth advisory services to Monaco as part of its increased focus on high net worth and ultra high net worth clients in the principality.
Barclays wealth advisory established a limited company in Monaco and appointed Simon Morris to lead the service for Monegasque residents.
One of its interesting approaches to wealth advisory services is its corporate and C&ES unit, launched in the UK in early 2011.
Withecombe explained the thinking behind the unit, which is formed from a combination of businesses within Barclays group.
He said typically entrepreneurs want to talk to banks about three things: credit, what a bank can do for their business and their personal investments.
Often, entrepreneurs are eager to talk about their business, but are much less eager to discuss their personal wealth.
Withecombe said the C&ES service gives Barclays something to talk to their clients about in the context of their business.
The bank is well positioned to have these conversations as it claims to have a quarter of UK corporates as clients.
Barclays can discuss retention of key staff or succession planning with their clients, while also gaining access to further discussions with staff about their financial planning.
These discussions help Barclays get to know its clients better, which then potentially leads to discussion of their personal wealth.
The unit is UK-based, with a plan to roll it out to other markets as the UK business begins to mature.
The C&ES business has had a strong start. In 2012, it is forecast to almost double the revenue of the former disparate Barclays businesses it was formed out of.
Source: Private Banker International