Singapore's best domestic bank 2018: DBS
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Singapore's best domestic bank 2018: DBS


Piyush Gupta, Group CEO, DBS.JPG
Piyush Gupta, DBS

It’s hard to compete against DBS, led by Piyush Gupta; the bank reported record earnings last year, with total income rising 4% to S$11.92 billion ($8.7 billion) while net profit, also up 4%, came in at S$4.39 billion. Of the income, Singapore accounted for S$7.79 billion, up 3.4%.

Admittedly, return on equity dipped by 0.4 percentage points to 9.7% last year, but DBS appears to have made up for that rapidly. For the first quarter of 2018, return on equity was 13.1%, the highest in a decade.

What is notable though is that growth at DBS has come from across various business divisions, rather than the firm being overly reliant on one or two businesses. Total income from consumer banking, for instance, rose by a hefty 9.2% last year to S$4.67 billion, while profits before tax from the division rose 10.3%.

Wealth management also did well, with the segment’s income rising 25% to S$2.1 billion in 2017. Assets under management got a 24% boost to S$206 billion, propelled in part by DBS’s acquisition of ANZ’s wealth management and retail businesses across the five markets of China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Indonesia.

DBS also managed to weather weakness in the oil and gas sector reasonably well, as reflected in the growth in its institutional banking operations. Total income rose a tiny 1.1% last year to S$5.28 billion, but within that part of the bank, SME income grew 11%, while income from corporates dropped 3% in 2017.

Then there is DBS’s cash management and open account trade businesses – both of which are on solid footing. Cash management income grew 32% last year, while the open account trade business delivered 14% revenue growth, much of which was attributed to 195 new client mandates, worth in excess of $9.2 billion. Even in a highly competitive market for investment banking mandates in Asia, DBS bagged key clients across both the equities and debt capital markets.

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