The world’s best for HNW: DBS
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AwardsPrivate Banking Awards

The world’s best for HNW: DBS

Competition in the high net-worth category is fierce: every private bank targets HNW customers, with the aim of making as many as possible of them long-term customers.

HNWs make up the majority of customers at the medium to higher end of the wealth spectrum. The band ranges from clients with at least $1 million, all the way up to $50 million at some big lenders. Financial providers committed to the cause must be willing to invest in a very broad range of services, while not letting costs – on risk controls, technology, manpower, new services and funds, and expanding branch networks – spiral out of reach.

DBS succeeds in achieving just the right cost-to-service balance in several ways. For one thing, the Singapore lender is increasingly a global player, at least in wealth management under group head of private banking Joseph Poon.

Joseph Poon

Private wealth is flowing in ever-greater quantities to the Lion City from Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, and from Europe and North America.

In all, the bank meets the evolving needs of HNW clients from 115 countries. Some of them have wealth scattered across various jurisdictions; it is DBS’s job to meet their needs and to continuously update families on ever-changing tax and regulatory landscapes, often in multiple languages. This requires constant upskilling by the bank’s army of relationship managers.

The good news here is that while geopolitical tensions rise around the world, so far at least, southeast Asia is a relative oasis of calm. That, the bank says, has “accelerated the shift in the centre of gravity of global wealth toward Asia”. And, in particular, to Singapore.

DBS’s decision to invest more heavily in digital solutions than its peers has paid off handsomely down the years. Its decision to invest big and early is key: it is a better provider of wealth-facing digital services than any other big lender in Asia, and every year, it rolls out a roster of new services tailored to the evolving needs of HNW clients. During the awards period, it unveiled several new trust solutions for cryptocurrencies specifically for them.

The bank offers a vast array of services to comprehensively address the diverse needs of this segment

DBS is a global leader for HNW clients wherever you look. As of the end of 2023, more than 60% of clients’ investment assets were sustainably rated, putting it two years ahead of schedule. (Its aim was 50%). It managed that by driving client advocacy: producing a series of educational webinars to make it easier for clients to understand the environmental, social and governance characteristics of their portfolios.

In March 2023, the bank announced the first close of its Asia Impact First Fund – the bank committed 50% of the capital – together with Heritas Capital and like-minded Singapore-based parties/clients, including Tsao Family Office and IMC Group.

The judges also applauded DBS’s range of products tailored to the complex needs of HNWs, many of them only unveiled during the awards period.

“The bank offers a vast array of services to comprehensively address the diverse needs of this segment,” they said.

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