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DBS’s Gupta pans banks’ dividend cuts, sees Covid-19 as threat to all

Piyush Gupta, head of Singapore’s DBS Bank, tells Euromoney that scrapping dividends now is a mistake, discusses the mental stress of working from home, and says a multi-year recovery will hit banks hard and lead to mergers and job losses.

Piyush Gupta 780

When Euromoney catches up with Piyush Gupta, he is keen to discuss the second great financial challenge of the 21st century through both a wide and a narrow lens.

Before we speak, the chief executive of Singapore’s DBS Bank asks his media team to email a file detailing all of its Covid-19 relief measures.

It’s almost, but not quite, as long as one of those iTunes user agreements. To pluck three at random, DBS is offering: 50 free electronic transfers a month to Singapore firms (up from 30); grace periods on personal loans to Chinese clients; and, in India, co-branded insurance products that pay out first and fast to coronavirus victims.

Its complexity and reach testify to the geographic and systemic nature of DBS – and to the parlous state of the banking sector as it grapples to contain the fallout from coronavirus. Twelve years on from the global financial crisis, most banks are highly capitalized and think hard about how their actions affect themselves, their clients and society. They have mental bandwidth – DBS is no exception.

Gupta starts small and circles up.

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