(Bloomberg) -- UBS Group AG wealth boss Iqbal Khan told Credit Suisse Group AG staff in Asia that he’s working on retention measures including compensation, according to people familiar with the matter, as the bank seeks to prevent an exodus of top talent.
Khan, alongside Francesco De Ferrari, Credit Suisse’s wealth management chief, made the comments at a town-hall in Hong Kong to Asia Pacific staff on Friday, said the people, asking not be identified as the event is private. They were joined by UBS senior Asia executives including Amy Lo, co-head of Asia-Pacific wealth, and Asia-Pacific President Edmund Koh, said the people.
Retention plans are likely to be aimed at top performers, one of the people said. When asked about compensation, Khan indicated it’s being worked on and more details could come as soon as next week, without being more specific, one of the people said.
Khan’s comments are the latest sign that UBS is concerned rivals will take advantage of the turmoil surrounding Credit Suisse to poach valuable personnel and clients before the bank’s takeover by UBS is completed later this year. Credit Suisse’s more than $1 trillion of client assets were the key appeal for a deal that bolsters UBS’s ambition to be the world’s top wealth manager.
The need to retain talent in Asia is especially acute. At least a dozen private bankers at the managing director-level and above have left Credit Suisse in Singapore and Hong Kong since September, or are planning to leave, Bloomberg News has reported. Some senior bankers who left handled at least $1 billion in client assets, and are likely to take at least a quarter of the funds they manage to their new employers, rising to as much as 60% in some cases.
It’s unclear how many bankers will be offered retention incentives and whether they will be granted to other regions. The executives also told those attending that Asia is full of opportunities and the combined entity would be a powerhouse, the people said. UBS is the largest private bank in Asia, and historically, Credit Suisse has been the second biggest in the region.
Representatives at UBS and Credit Suisse declined to comment.
Few within UBS are better placed than Khan to decide which bankers the firm should strive to keep. Before moving to UBS in 2019, Khan was head of international wealth management at Credit Suisse, with responsibility for operations in the Middle East and Americas. Credit Suisse was so concerned about losing bankers and clients after Khan left that it set up a spy operation to monitor him. Khan has already hired a number of former colleagues at his new bank.
Khan is also talking with private bankers in offices from Dubai to Doha as he tries to hang onto the stricken firm’s top talent, according to people with knowledge of the matter. He met managers in Hong Kong this week and plans to go to Singapore as well, the people said, asking not to be identified as the initiative is private and in early stages.
Deutsche Bank AG, Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are among banks seeking to add both private and investment bankers, with some easing hiring freezes to take advantage of the Credit Suisse situation, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday.
Even before the hastily arranged deal with UBS, Credit Suisse had seen a steady exodus of top private bankers and a drumbeat of asset outflows, reaching $110 billion in the fourth quarter. While the bank signaled earlier this month that outflows had slowed, they increased again last week when the bank received a liquidity line from the Swiss central bank.
--With assistance from Marion Halftermeyer, Nicolas Parasie, Archana Narayanan, Chanyaporn Chanjaroen and Myriam Balezou.
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