Best for ESG investing in Singapore 2022
DBS Bank’s haul of wins in Asiamoney’s 2022 awards include best domestic private bank in Singapore, best for investment research in Singapore and best for ESG investing in the city-state. The wins are all much deserved, with credit going to the team spearheaded by Joseph Poon, group head of DBS Private Bank.
DBS’s top-notch offerings are many. Start with its technology. These days, every reasonably competitive bank has a decent mobile app that’s gaining more and more traction. If a bank had not already invested big in digital tools by 2019, the Covid-19 era forced them to. What differentiates DBS is how it uses its tech to help clients find alpha.
The bank has long been a digital banking trendsetter and is known for having something of a startup culture vibe and mindset within its walls. Now, though, DBS is letting its digital wealth strategy transform the way it operates. One way is how relationship managers are encouraged to reimagine the end-to-end client-banker journey.
Take DBS Private Bank’s embrace of artificial intelligence. In 2021, DBS updated DBS iWealth as its digibank. It’s an AI-powered platform that clients use to perform daily transactions, manage their wealth and invest with hyper-personalized insights and recommendations. Clients can do portfolio simulations to see how a change in strategy might make or ruin their quarter.
DBS digibank logins across key markets have doubled since 2018. In 2021 alone, online investment transactions tripled. Digital wealth revenue doubled in 2020 and grew another 25% by November 2021, year on year.
The ranks of digital wealth customers also continued to grow steadily, by 4% in 2021. Although digital adoption accelerated in the past two years, there’s still lots more potential.
On investment research, too, DBS made its mark. The chief investment office made calls during the depth of the pandemic in 2020 to buy and build portfolios. It echoed those calls to stay constructive in 2021 as well, and the move paid off as markets rebounded.
DBS also downgraded Asia ex-Japan at the start of the third quarter of 2021 – a timely call as the region ended up suffering losses of 14% by the end of 2021.
The Singaporean bank has made ESG investing options a priority. In December, about 46% of DBS Private Bank’s assets under management were sustainable investments. By 2023, the goal is to increase it to more than 50%.
DBS gets some street credit for being among the first Asia-based wealth managers to take sustainability seriously by adopting MSCI ESG ratings. DBS is continuously prodding UHNW clients to integrate ESG themes into their core portfolios.
Poon says that the more clients support companies that reflect their values, the more their wealth drives positive change. Part of the deal is championing transparency. DBS Private Bank introduced an Asia-first ESG portfolio-weighted rating methodology so that clients can do a sort of sustainability test. It also expanded its suite of ESG-related investment products. By March 2021, the total AUM for DBS CIO flagship products exceeded $1.4 billion. A solid performance, and one that is only going to get better.