DUbai : Coutts & Co., the wealth management arm of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), will continue hiring bankers in fast-growing markets such as the Middle East as it aims to generate more revenues from abroad, the bank’s top executive said on Thursday. Coutts, Queen Elizabeth II’s housebank which has a history of more than 300 years, in the past year has been expanding its Middle East presence. It recently opened an office in Dubai’s financial centre and hired several private bankers as part of an aggressive expansion spree in the region.

“I expect the Middle East will continue to grow faster than for instance Europe,” Coutts’ chief executive Rory Tapner said in a phone interview.

“We are moving from what was historically largely an expat business to one now that is properly Middle Eastern. We’re trying to do now more business with existing local clients and expand our local client base,” Tapner said.

The private banking sector in the Middle East and Africa may grow 6.6per cent a year to reach $6.1 trillion in value in 2016 as the gross domestic product of oil-rich countries in the region continues to expand, according to a study from Boston Consulting Group earlier this year.

Many of the world’s largest private banks, including the likes of UBS and Julius Baer, are active in Dubai, hoping to tap the wider region’s oil wealth. Coutts also has offices in Doha and Abu Dhabi.

For Coutts, boosting its business in faster-growing regions means it will become less dependent on its domestic market, the UK, where it currently generates about 55per cent of its revenues.

“Our strategy is very clear, we are too exposed to the UK and we expect a shift of the mix of business to about 60% international and 40 per cent UK,” Tapner said.

Coutts has currently about GBP85 billion in assets under management worldwide and Mr. Tapner expects that amount to increase next year, without giving more specific forecasts.

Coutts earlier this year reduced its global workforce to 5,100 from 5,500, mostly by cutting middle- and back-office jobs, but Tapner said the bank continues to recruit private bankers and investment specialists.