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JPMorgan doubling Singapore private bankers for rich China clients

While New York-based JPMorgan has a large team of wealth managers in Hong Kong, Singapore is the only Asian centre where clients can book assets.


JPMORGAN Chase plans to double the number of private bankers serving Chinese clients from Singapore over the next two years, signalling its ambition to tap growth from Asia's second-largest wealth market.

The US bank currently has more than a dozen relationship managers serving Chinese residents and those on the mainland from Singapore, said James Wey, the new head of Southeast Asia private banking. "With rapid wealth creation in China, there is a need for insightful advice around how to manage the new-found wealth," he said.

JPMorgan, ranked seventh among private banks in Asia excluding onshore China, competes with Credit Suisse Group and Morgan Stanley in attracting Chinese entrepreneurs who become billionaires after listing their companies' stocks.

While the New York-based bank has a large team of wealth managers in Hong Kong, Singapore is the only Asian centre where clients can book assets.

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"Singapore is a natural hub for wealth management because of the very clear and investor-friendly regulation," Mr Wey said. "The wealthy, not just from China, but all over the world, view the country as a stable hub."

The China team is the latest addition to JPMorgan Private Bank in Singapore, which has traditionally focused on local clients and those in Indonesia and has more than 50 relationship managers, Mr Wey said.

Last week, Mr Wey also announced plans to merge the team serving the Indian diaspora with those handling Singapore residents, effective from Dec 1, he said.

While the private bank will expand all of its teams in Singapore, the rate of growth for the China group will be faster given that it's the smallest and was set up less than two years ago, he said. "Many large Chinese companies are using Singapore as their international headquarters," Mr Wey said when asked about target clients. "With that come a lot of senior people who have concentrated wealth holdings. They look at how to build that in a smart way for generations to come."

Among major Chinese firms building up in Singapore are Tencent, Alibaba and ByteDance.

JPMorgan's balance sheet enables the private bank to grow its relationship with clients via lending, as well as providing other market activities, Mr Wey said. Last year, the bank said it was starting a trust entity in Singapore.

The number of millionaires in China grew 11 per cent to 1.3 million last year, a faster rate than Japan, home to 3.4 million millionaires, according to a report published in July by Capgemini SE. BLOOMBERG

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