A Tight Private Banking, Wealth Management Talent Sector – In Conversation With HSBC

Tom Burroughes Group Editor London 1 August 2023

A Tight Private Banking, Wealth Management Talent Sector – In Conversation With HSBC

This news service talks to HSBC Private Banking UK about finding, nurturing and retaining talent at a time when the nature of the job continues to change.

As part of our occasional series looking at talent management topics in the wealth sector, this news service recently spoke to HSBC Private Banking UK, part of HSBC, and gleaned views from Peter Barriscale, managing director, head of high net worth, and James Thomson, MD, head of investment counselling. This is a topic we continue to cover, so if readers want to share views or insights on these matters, get in touch. Email the editor at

WealthBriefing: How would you characterise the employment market in wealth management – is it tight, are there lots of unfilled vacancies, or is there keen competition for certain roles?
HSBC Private Banking: In the UK, the private banking and wealth management employment market remains tight. In London, in particular, there is a lot of competition for candidates that can evidence a sustained period of high performance and client acquisition. This continues to drive fixed pay higher for new candidates and we see existing employers working ever harder to retain experienced client-facing talent. Despite this, we find that HSBC tends to be on candidates' short list; we are able to differentiate ourselves due to our culture, our brand and our global proposition. We have very few unfilled positions. 

Recruiting for more specialist roles such as product roles are harder to fill – they tend to be extremely competitive as we face competition for talent from non-bank institutional firms as well as other private banks.  

Outside London and the South-East, the pool of talent is smaller and spread over a greater geography. We are seeing competitors expand into the Midlands and North of England which is creating greater competition for talent, and which can elongate the recruitment process.

Q: Where do you see particularly strong demand and where have things weakened?
We have found that there is a premium for top talent and that has become even greater. It is increasingly hard to prize good candidates away from the competition as existing employers will pay a premium to retain them. 

We also find that there is a lot of competition for female client-facing candidates and in general we see fewer female applicants compared with their male counterparts. 

To counter this, we have deliberately focused on developing our young talent so that they can transition to a more senior position when one becomes available. We have defined specific career pathways for client-facing roles so that we have a pipeline of talent. We have also established key development roles across the front office, for example we now align junior bankers to some of our senior RMs and investment counsellors providing the opportunity to learn “on the job” with some of our most talented advisors.  

Alongside this we also run a well-established graduate programme and introduced an apprenticeship programme in the last couple of years, providing the opportunity to develop and nurture talent at this junior level. 

Q: At a time when there’s much talk of digital change, how important today is it for RMs, bankers and others to have lots of technology skills? Is this an area where firms and other bodies need to invest in training and career development?      
Technology has undoubtedly become a more prominent feature of everyone’s roles. We don’t need our client-facing colleagues to be technology specialists, but they need to be able to use the technology to do their role. 

Ultimately the primary skills we are looking for in client-facing colleagues is the ability to build relationships and trust. We have found more recently that our RMs need to understand emerging technology trends across the economy, so that they are plugged into opportunities which will affect our clients, many of whom are business owners. 

Q: Another big theme in recent years has been that wealth management must be less “male, pale and stale.” What in your view are the challenges in bringing and retaining more women to the industry, ensuring that they can climb up the hierarchy and do not drop off after having children, for example? What can be done to make the sector more appealing and less “stuffy” and intimidating? At the same time, how can change be made without in any way compromising on standards, merit, etc?    
We do a good job of retaining people in the UK private banking business.

There is a challenge in the industry more broadly in terms of there being fewer women than men. We run several talent management programmes for females, and we have a great Employee Resource Group across HSBC, called Balance which focuses on supporting women – for example we hold a number of talks, we have a strong network and also offer coaching for mothers returning from maternity leave. 

From our experience wealth management isn’t as diverse or inclusive as it could be; it’s not considered an automatic choice for candidates from diverse socio-economic backgrounds and therefore we must be more deliberate about how we attract a more varied group of candidates. 

With proactive support from our senior leadership team, we have sought to enhance the profile of ethnic minority colleagues within our business and identified the need to increase engagement in identified minority groups externally. For example, we have partnered with an external training provider to volunteer in schools with higher ethnic minority representation – we have assisted with CV writing, interviews, and career days, and have also provided external mentoring to support young diverse talent.

Internally, we have formed an Ethnicity Committee Employee Resource Group, responsible for supporting a dedicated pilot Sponsorship Programme for black heritage colleagues with a view to expanding to wider ethnic minorities, which includes a mentoring programme and an allyship programme.

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