A sign sits outside Banque Pictet & Cie SA in Geneva, Switzerland, on Friday, Oct. 16, 2015. Once bastions of secrecy, 41 Swiss banks signed amnesty agreements this year with the U.S. Justice Department that required disclosing the tricks they used to help customers hide assets, naming bankers and middlemen who enabled them and detailing the flow of untaxed money. Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg
The leadership changes in Asia follow Pictet’s appointment of Boris Collardi as a partner and co-head of global wealth in 2017 © Bloomberg

Pictet, the Swiss wealth manager, is overhauling its leadership in Asia as it pushes ahead with plans to expand across the region and in the Middle East.

The 214-year-old Geneva-based group has appointed Tee Fong-Seng as chief executive of its Asian wealth management business and Alex Ng as chief executive of Hong Kong and of wealth management in north Asia.

Mr Tee will join Pictet from Zurich-based private bank EFG, where he was the chairman of its Asia advisory board. Mr Ng was previously Credit Suisse’s market head for China.

The leadership changes in Asia follow Pictet’s appointment of Boris Collardi as a partner and co-head of global wealth in late 2017. Mr Collardi was poached from rival Julius Baer, where he was chief executive.

Pictet told the Financial Times earlier this year that it would focus on expanding in Switzerland, the Middle East and Asia starting in 2019, but also played down any idea it was seeking to challenge Julius Baer in Asia, where it is the largest pure-play private bank with more than double Pictet’s $35bn in assets under management in the region.

Mr Collardi said in a statement on Monday that the new appointments would “set the stage for the next phase of growth in the region”.

As growth slows in Europe and the Americas, western wealth managers and private banks have looked to Asia as a new source of revenues. Inbound investments from other regions have faced strong local competition from banks such as OCBC’s Bank of Singapore and growing Chinese rivals such as Bank of China (Hong Kong).

After several years of uninterrupted growth in assets under management (AUM) in Asia, private banks faced the first contraction in growth in 2018, with AUM at the 20 largest institutions falling 3.6 per cent to $1.63tn, according to industry monitor Asian Private Banker.

Pictet was the 13th-largest wealth manager in Asia in 2018 based on AUM, although those assets shrank by about 2 per cent from the year before, according to Asian Private Banker data.

The group, a partnership controlled by eight people, had $503bn in total AUM at the end of 2018.

* This article has been amended since original publication to correct Bank of Singapore’s parent organisation and to remove incorrect data on the number of staff hired by Pictet

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