Best Asian private bank in Asia 2022
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AwardsAsia Private Banking Awards

Best Asian private bank in Asia 2022

DBS Bank

The private banking arm of Singaporean financial services firm DBS Bank had yet another stellar year, making it the natural choice for Asiamoney’s best Asian private bank award for 2022.

This was no rote, going-through-the-motions judgement, given DBS takes this award for the third year running. The firm really did have that kind of standout 2021: it is clear that the last decade of building up the bank’s wealth management franchise is paying off.

The bank served up yet another record performance in 2021, with global private banking client assets growing 14% year on year. Fee income rose 17% year on year, while investment registered record growth. That was no easy feat given that market charts looked more like electrocardiograph readings thanks to the pandemic, surging inflation and geopolitical tensions.

This tells a broader story of the quality and savvy of the bank's franchise and the nimbleness of its execution in rapidly changing times, says Joseph Poon, group head at DBS Private Bank.

All private banking executives like to claim their team’s strategies are on firm ground, that their research staff made good calls for private banking clients and that they are seeing surging demand for in-house managed investment products.

Joseph Poon, DBS Private Bank.jpg
Joseph Poon, DBS Private Bank

But DBS did pull all of this off, and its numbers reflect that. Client assets under management more than doubled in 2021 to S$10 billion ($7.34 billion).

The bank continued to make advances in harnessing the strength of its universal banking model, offering cross-asset advice to clients across Asia whether in capital markets, family office, ESG, digital banking or other segments.

Take the family office business. DBS saw a more than three-fold increase in the number of family offices it helped to establish, and AUM more than doubled.

Looking ahead, Poon says the bank senses a long cycle of growth for Singapore’s family office landscape. With DBS’s scale, brand trust and deep understanding of Asian business dynamics, tax and regulatory challenges, regional market insights and cultural nuances, odds are many of those calls will come its way. As the family office networks evolve, the number of ultra high net worth individuals could rise rapidly, adding to DBS’s client base.

DBS wins kudos, too, for making technology a key differentiator and recruiting tool.

It is constantly reimagining the way its apps and online platforms can improve client-relationship manager dynamics with data-driven insights and state-of-the-art digital capabilities.

Its unique offerings include the DBS Digital Exchange, which saw trading volumes of over S$1.1 billion ($810 million); and the launch of Asia’s first bank-backed trust solution for crypto-currencies, helping private banking clients to integrate their digital assets into their wealth succession plans. The result? Digital wealth revenue doubled in 2020 and rose a further 25%, year on year, by November 2021.

The ESG space is another area of outperformance. DBS has long been a regional industry leader in sustainability, championing ESG investment principles early and often. By December 2021, its ESG funds’ AUM had skyrocketed 479%, year on year.

DBS is also boosting its social financing footprint. It is increasing engagement and mentorship between social entrepreneurs, high net worth families, and their next-generation family members, in a bid to deepen social impact investing across a number of markets in Asia.

It’s a remarkable franchise – and one that is nowhere near slowing down.