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Asia Private Banking Awards

Best Asian private bank in Asia 2020


Sim Lim, Group Head, Consumer Banking Group and Wealth Management, DBS Bank.jpg
Sim Lim, DBS Bank

Singapore’s DBS Bank is well-known for having a world-class digital offering and an impressive corporate and investment bank. It has also quietly become one of the most impressive private banks in the region.

DBS has partly grown its private bank through acquisitions. In October 2016, it announced its purchase of ANZ’s retail banking and wealth management business in Asia, adding assets from China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore and Taiwan. The acquisition, which cost about S$110 million ($80 million), was completed the following year.

But the Singaporean bank has mainly focused on organic growth, moving its clients through three premium categories as they accumulate wealth. Its DBS Treasures service accepts clients with between S$350,000 and S$1.5 million in assets, DBS Treasures Private Clients expects assets of up to S$5 million, and above that clients are moved into DBS Private Bank.

It is hard to directly compare the bank with its rivals, since its assets under management figures combine all three of these categories. But by any metric, its recent performance has been remarkable. The bank’s AuM grew 11% to S$245 billion ($176 billion) in 2019.

The income the bank earned from its wealth management business reached an all-time high of S$3.08 billion, an annual rise of 16%.

DBS’s retail and private bank, overseen by Sim S Lim, group head, consumer banking group and wealth management, has made the most of its investment specialists to drive product sales.

The firm’s chief investment officer outlined a barbell strategy in the third quarter of 2019 that balances growth investments, particularly those in technology, services for millennials and China, with income-generating assets, including real estate investment trusts, dividend-yielding stocks and corporate bonds.

DBS packaged the strategy into a ‘barbell index note’, which had generated assets of S$404 million by March 24.

DBS has beaten its retail and corporate banking rivals for some time now by making smarter use of technology. It is no different in private banking. Its technology offerings include the NextGen DBS iWealth mobile app, which was redesigned last year; DBS Wealth Chat, which integrates with services such as WhatsApp and WeChat while also maintaining security; and its DigiPortfolio, a combination of human expertise and artificial intelligence that it launched with start-up Quantifeed.

Like many of its rivals, DBS is putting plenty of emphasis on catering to the next generation of high net-worth individuals. Its Future Leaders Programme gives presentations and networking opportunities to second generation wealthy, while its focus on ESG directly targets a growing desire of that client base.

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