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Asia Pacific market round-up: UBS heads back to school

More evidence of the chronic staff shortages still faced by Asia’s private banks came in September with news that UBS, the largest private bank in the region, has resorted to constructing its own purpose-built training facility for new recruits and existing staff to cater for the demands of its burgeoning Asia wealth management business.

The UBS Wealth Management Campus – Asia Pacific, as the school will be called, will be based in Singapore and is expected to open in the first quarter of 2007.

The move also provides interesting insights into the extent to which UBS is planning to grow in the region. When the campus is fully operational, UBS estimates that it will enable the firm to increase its client adviser numbers by more than 20% annually. UBS expects the campus to provide training for approximately 5,000 existing and future staff between 2006 and 2010.

Underpinning its aggressive growth plans is UBS’s estimate that liquid assets held by individuals in Asia ex-Japan will grow 9.7% a year until 2010. That compares with estimated global growth of less than 6%. By 2030, three of the world’s largest economies – China, India and Japan – are expected to be in Asia-Pacific.

If UBS’s projections are correct, it might not be the only private bank setting up its own in-house school. The market for private banking talent in Asia looks as if it will remain tight for some time yet.

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