Singapore: DBS continues to dominate
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Singapore: DBS continues to dominate

Singapore’s status as a regional hub and burgeoning centre for private banking attracts many global banks, but local bank DBS maintains its pre-eminence.

Singapore is a microcosm of southeast Asia where competition between banks is concerned. There is a dominant local player in the form of DBS, a few smaller local banks and sizeable operations for most global banks.

Singapore is a relatively small economy, with GDP about a third of Indonesia’s, but its advanced infrastructure and sound regulatory framework mean it is the only real choice as the regional hub for the Asean region.

Many global banks view it as the logical centre of Asia-Pacific operations, leaving Hong Kong to concentrate on Hong Kong and Greater China. Singapore is undoubtedly a global financial centre with real clout. It is the fourth-largest FX trading centre in the world and the destination of choice for private banks from across Asia and, increasingly, around the world.

Although Singapore’s status on a global scale is assured, some observers regard its domestic market as overbanked, with a fee pool that is lumpy at best, meaning banks are often overly reliant on earnings from the odd large M&A deal.

Perhaps as a result, DBS has been making efforts to diversify its earnings away from Singapore and Hong Kong and has established branches in India, China and Indonesia among others.

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