After focusing on the East Asia markets in China, Japan, and South Korea, investment bankers are now eyeing Southeast Asia, which has seen an increasing number of high-value tech deals and digital adoption over the last year.
Bloomberg reports that leading banks in the region such as Citigroup, BNP Paribas SA, and Malayan Banking Bhd have been actively seeking tech-focused talent, even creating new roles such as managing director for technology, media, and telecommunications (TMT).
Jwalant Navanti, head of TMT for Asia ex-Japan at Nomura Holdings, said that tech startups in Southeast Asia and India are growing in scale and size, with many soon to become unicorns and launch their IPOs. This presents a huge opportunity for investment banks, as the region’s population of 2 billion increasingly adopts digital tech.
In South Asia, investment bankers are specifically anticipating groundbreaking IPOs to the tune of $10 billion in the next six months. Deals in South Asia and Southeast Asia combined are at a record $93 billion this year, twice the recorded number last year.
“M&A hiring has increased across all investment banks in Singapore because there are more deals to go around in the market. In addition to the yearly attrition of investment bankers moving to buy-side firms, start-ups, the backlogged deals on top of the new deals originated have meant that simply replacing existing headcounts has not been sufficient,” said Bryan Law, principal consultant for investment and fund management at Selby Jennings.
Lori Beer, Global Chief Information Officer, JPMorgan, highlights the importance of Asia in their bank’s tech plans in an interview with Nikkei. According to her, JPMorgan plans to grow its 52,000-strong global team of technologists and invest a substantial amount of its revenue in tech innovation.
Asia’s banking sector
For over ten years, Asia has been the largest regional banking market globally and the darling location of the world’s biggest banks. Despite this, banks’ revenue growth has slowed, and margins have narrowed and moved closer to global averages.
Amid intense competition, Southeast Asia’s banks are deploying a consolidation strategy while leveraging the growth of digitalization in the region. A summary of executive moves in Southeast Asia’s wealth management sector also shows that many of the region’s top bankers are in positions related to TMT, fintech, and distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) like blockchain.
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