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Well-managed wealth of opportunities

Published on Thursday, 02 Feb 2012
Nicolas Staerklé
Managing director, wealth management, Pictet (Asia)
Photo: Gary Mak

Asia's strong economic performance and growth strategy, as well as its young population, make it a prime location for private banks to cautiously expand their wealth management operations amid the volatility elsewhere in world.

To tap into the Asian miracle, Pictet - the Swiss private bank - is selectively recruiting experienced senior bankers to add to its 45 staff in Hong Kong.

"We are expanding substantially, but we always grow organically," says Nicolas Staerklé, managing director, wealth management, Pictet (Asia).

Values and expectations at the privately owned bank with over 200 years of history are quite different from those of other financial institutions where management has to cope with demands from shareholders, and new hires will have to conform accordingly.

Owned by partners who take unlimited responsibility for the bank's commitments, Pictet enjoys financial independence, management stability and has a risk-averse attitude, making it possible for staff to have a global view, think long term, and focus on the relationship with and needs of the client, says Staerklé.

"Our values lie at the heart of our activities and demand a certain behaviour from each staff," he adds. "They should feel responsible for their actions and results, promote cohesion and value team work. Most importantly, they have to prioritise the interests and needs of the clients."

Each banker is entrusted with making decisions and developing the business with an entrepreneurial spirit, so he must be experienced enough to use his autonomy.

"The main pressure is to be up to the standards and show regular growth in their assets, with a long-term approach," says Staerklé.

New hires need to understand Pictet's values and culture and follow its business model. They also need to be good communicators, attentive to clients and able to translate the details of the information received into a position or an investment strategy.

Coming to Asia nine years ago, Staerklé received a timely and valuable observation from a client, who succinctly described Pictet's services: "I like the consistency in the bank's message and structure, and the consistency in the follow-up, whatever the market circumstances."

Pictet is very selective in recruiting, and the attrition rate is very low, Staerklé adds. New hires are given good induction and training in internal guidelines and regulations that aim to protect clients. Senior employees are sent to Geneva to get an all-round tour of the headquarters and are immersed in the Pictet culture.

Coaching is continual to meet the regulatory professional education requirements and to train staff in compliance, law and regulations, Pictet's financial offerings and the external message it wants to convey, as well as leadership skills. To top it off, a monthly off-site happy hour gives staff a chance to relax and mingle.

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