Asiamoney Private Banking Awards 2020: Singapore


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© 2020

Results index


Best Domestic Private Bank: DBS

Best International Private Bank: Citi Private Bank

Best for Family Offices: DBS

Best for ESG: DBS

Best for Wealth Transfer/Succession Planning: DBS

Best for HNW: DBS

Award winners

Best Domestic Private Bank
Best for HNW
Best for ESG
Best for Wealth Transfer/Succession Planning
Best for Family Offices

Joseph Poon, DBS Private Bank
Wealth management is an increasingly important facet of finance to DBS, which was chosen by Euromoney, Asiamoney’s sister publication, both as the world’s best digital bank in 2018, and the world’s best bank in 2019. 

Its wealth management division reported a 16% year-on-year rise in income in the full year 2019, and now accounts for more than one fifth of group income.

The Singapore lender stands apart in its home market, the result of over a decade of far-sighted and clear-minded decisions cascading down from the office of chief executive Piyush Gupta. But it has other stars too, including its group head of consumer banking and wealth management Sim S Lim and group head of DBS Private Bank Joseph Poon.

DBS benefits from its own decisions, but also from the immense and inherent value of the Singapore brand. It is one of the very few countries with a triple-A credit rating. Its government is committed to supporting private banking, tweaking its rulebook to make it more attractive to global family offices. A sharp rise in the number of FOs relocating to the country in recent years has been a huge boon to the bank.

But then so has DBS’s shrewd decision to position itself as the obvious financial repository for leading family groups across southeast Asia. When wealth passes to a second- or third-generation group of family members in the likes of Indonesia and Malaysia, they often put a large portion of that money to work, not in a local lender, but in a systemically important lender from Singapore. And nothing shouts the words ‘Singapore’ and ‘systemically important’ louder than DBS.

DBS is always looking a little bit further along the curve, in search of new services and products to support its clients. Its Wealth Continuum platform, launched back in 2011, continues to provide customers with a panoramic picture of their portfolios.

High net-worth customers can tap into its Treasures Private Client platform, which also includes access to DBS’s exclusive lounge in Singapore’s Changi airport. The service brings gourmet food and beverage and luxury travel privileges, with airport ambassador services in select Asians cities. 

In 2018, DBS extended the service to Taiwan and Indonesia, as it continues to spread its wings around the region.

And still it continues to innovate. In the second half of 2019, DBS unveiled first its barbell investment strategy, then its Barbell Index Note, which lets clients invest in a single portfolio that tracks to the CIO’s views. 

Between its launch in August and late March 2020, the note pulled in S$404 million ($283 million) in client investment.

Readership of DBS research has risen five-fold during the coronavirus pandemic, as HNWs turn to the bank to understand what Covid-19 means, how it will affect their portfolios, and why they should remain invested in the market. 

Knowing what clients are reading – and what they want – in turn helps the bank to build products around them. As ever in Singapore, DBS is way ahead of the curve.

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Best International Private Bank
Citi Private Bank

No foreign financial institution comes close to competing with Citi in Singapore. The US firm’s breadth and depth in the Lion City is unparalleled, and it stretches deep into the private banking realm. 

As it does in other markets, Citi breaks up its wealth demographic into five pillars: emerging affluent, affluent, high and ultra-high net-worth, and mega wealth. 

While it focuses keenly on all of them, the key number is $10 million, above which an individual or a family can become a private bank client.

Given that you cannot be considered a regional power in private banking without a serious Singapore presence, this matters. 

Citi’s success is no accident. It opened its first office in 1902, and is the largest foreign banking employer in the city-state. Singapore is home to a number of its strategically important hubs, including its Asia Pacific Citi Service Centre, and one of its six global Innovation Labs.

These are central to its enduring success. Its Singapore Lab is filled with specialists focused on serving UHNW individuals and ensuring that global clients know what is in their portfolio, and why it matters. It’s a constant process of communication and education, a single point where the client is offered a customized portfolio, tailored to their risk appetites.

The bank’s Labs interconnect globally, ensuring the client secures the best possible immediate and long-term financial advice. That is of immense value, particularly given a chaotic global political environment and the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic to all firms and families.

Singapore is filled with foreign financial institutions offering world-class advice, across stocks and bonds, commodities and real estate, wealth transfer and succession planning, to the country’s, the region’s and the world’s wealthiest families. But no one does it there on a better, bigger and broader scale than Citi.

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