The world’s best for international China clients: DBS
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The world’s best for international China clients: DBS

In 2023, Singapore attracted S$12.7 billion ($9.43 billion) in fixed asset investments, amid a challenging global environment, according to data from the country’s economic development board. The previous year it was even higher, at S$22.5 billion.

It is a reminder of the growing relevance and soft-power clout of the Lion City, the financial fulcrum of a region – southeast Asia – that has so far skirted the geopolitical tumult and vicissitudes of so much of the rest of the world.

Singapore’s safety and stability acts as a double magnet, drawing in a lot of corporate and institutional investment, and personal capital. Private wealth is flowing in from all over the world – the Middle East, Europe, south Asia and the rest of Asean.

Carol Shu-Yen Wu

And, of course, China. Hard data is hard to come by, but private wealth continues to flow out of the People’s Republic. It is not a torrent by any means, but pretty much every China-facing private banker is working to help high and ultra-high net-worth mainland clients allocate private capital to foreign funds, stocks and assets.

DBS is at the heart of this story: carefully helping international China clients to invest in global funds, assets and securities. This isn’t just happening in its home market: the lender helps many of the same clients to manage personal capital across multiple markets, including the Asean region and greater China, encompassing the mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong. These areas fall under the leadership of Carol Shu-Yen Wu, head of private bank in North Asia.

The work it does for clients is valuable and complex. Wealth flows out of China to be put to work in global assets – as you would expect, given the market’s immense wealth, and the desire of wealthy mainland families to diversify their portfolios, travel and buy foreign real estate.

This process works both ways, of course. Plenty of private wealth is also flowing back into China, in part to be put to work in philanthropic endeavours: building schools and hospitals, and supporting charities.

DBS is carefully helping international China clients to invest in global funds, assets and securities

DBS cites a case study to highlight best how the bank serves the multi-jurisdictional needs of HNW clients. The central character is an entrepreneur with more than $700 million in financial assets, who runs a business making high-end personal mobility components.

Though she had banked over the years with various Taiwan, European and North American lenders, none of them was ideally placed to provide her with the seamless wealth-management and planning services she required.

Enter DBS. When first introduced to the bank in Singapore, she was just looking for a place to park a small sum of money. But headwinds in China – rising costs, tightening labour regulations and geopolitical tensions – pushed her to relocate her factories to other markets, notably Vietnam.

Over time, she put more of her capital to work with Asia’s best private bank. In recent years, DBS has arranged commercial bank loans in New Taiwan dollars, and its relationship managers have helped her to understand the regulatory landscape in the markets in which she operates. She is currently setting up a single-family office with the bank.

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