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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Private Swiss Bank Tripling Its Asian Staff as Region Gets Rich

SINGAPORE -- Clariden Bank, a private bank owned by Swiss financial giant Credit Suisse, expects its Asian clients' assets to double by the end of 2006, spurred by the region's rapid economic growth.

Clariden will boost staff in Asia to 55 by the end of 2006, from 15 in 2004, hoping to increase assets from regional clients to as much as 5 billion Swiss francs ($3.83 billion) by the end of next year, chief executive Bernard Stalder said in an interview on Wednesday.

The number of high net worth individuals -- defined as those with more than $1 million in financial assets -- in the Asia-Pacific region grew by 8.2 percent in 2004 to 2.3 million, according to the 2005 World Wealth Report of Merrill Lynch and Capgemini.

Their total wealth grew 8.5 percent to $7.2 trillion and is forecast to rise 6.9 percent annually to $10.1 trillion by 2009.

Swiss-based Clariden has 18,000 private banking clients globally, about 10 percent of whom are Asian, Stalder said. It wants to increase Asian assets by 25 percent a year over the next three to five years, he said, as business -- particularly from clients in India, Indonesia and Hong Kong -- expands.

"We want to participate in the wealth creation process which is evident in this region," said Stalder, in Singapore to launch Clariden's new regional branch office. Credit Suisse also runs a private banking business out of Singapore.

Clariden, which has an existing asset management operation in Singapore, has hired wealth advisers, product specialists and administrative staff and will add another 15 people next year, Stalder said.

Worldwide, Clariden's headcount would increase to almost 700 by the end of this year, from 640 at the end of 2004. The bank is targeting a global headcount of 780 by end-2006, he said.

The growth potential in Asia-Pacific has prompted private banks to step up operations in the region, and has led to a severe shortage of private bankers, sparking heavy poaching.

"The challenge, since private banking is a people business, is to get the people. Not only to get them, but retain them," Stalder said.