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Hong Kong's best private bank 2017: DBS


At first glance, the connection between an Indonesian tax amnesty and Singapore bank DBS’s recent push into Asian private banking isn’t apparent. But think again. Singaporean banks have seen billions of dollars leave their care since Jakarta gave Indonesians an amnesty to get their finances in order. Indonesian officials have said 57% of funds repatriated home came from Singapore.

So DBS, under managing director Januar Tjandra, and rivals like OCBC have been forced to look for greener pastures elsewhere, like Hong Kong. In quick succession, DBS has bought Société Générale’s private-banking operation in Asia and then gobbled up ANZ’s as it exited Asia. In 2016, DBS transferred about $2 billion in assets under management to its Hong Kong office, while more than doubling headcount. The ANZ deal added another 100,000 private wealth clients.

When deal integration is done, DBS will have lifted assets in Hong Kong by around $5 billion in AuM, to total around HK$120 billion ($15 billion), but even before that, DBS’s private bank in Hong Kong was delivering double-digit growth in AuM year on year.

A play for ABN Amro’s Asia private-banking business may have since failed, but DBS’s commitment to the Hong Kong market – in small and medium-sized enterprises as well as wealth management – is quickly giving it a second core market beyond Singapore. It’s definitely a bank to follow closely, particularly given its smart – and aggressive – client acquisition strategy.

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