Richards, who will be a managing director at Barcap, is expected to fill a position that has been vacant since Takumi Tanaka, a former Lehman and Nomura banker, left the bank earlier this year.
Financial sponsor coverage bankers like Richards play a key role in winning mandates on private equity-backed investments, loans and IPO exits.
Sponsor-backed exits have surged 77 per cent this year in Asia to the highest level ever, recent Thomson Reuters data shows.
Thomson Reuters data also shows private equity investments rising 38 percent year to date to hit $17.2bn in Asia.
Barclays and Morgan Stanley declined to comment.
Private equity investing in China and India in particular is accelerating, and PE funds are also expanding teams as they look to invest a wall of capital already accumulated in the region.
China is taking the lion's share of private equity investments. Global firms including Blackstone and TPG TPG.UL, as well as investment banks such as Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, have all set up private equity operations in China, heating up competition for deals and the players who source them.
In India, private equity investing is accelerating, as rising borrowing costs and dormant public markets in Asia's third-largest economy push companies to cut deals with buyout firms in return for much-needed cash injections.