Upfront with Sunny
“We will accelerate acquisition, deepen engagement with customers, and grow our Premier Banking business.”
Sunny QuekGlobal Consumer Financial Services
With Singapore and the region in “recovery” from the Covid pandemic, what drove the consumer banking business in 2022?
2022’s volatile market conditions negatively affected equities and fixed income markets. Yet, we were able to seize opportunities thanks to our well-positioned business and strong foundations.
We beefed up staff strength, growing client advisors and relationship managers 10% since 2019. Improvements to our Group Wealth Platform for affluent customers in Singapore and Malaysia have also contributed to our overall performance. Customers can monitor investments via a single wealth account and access a wide range of best-in-class investment products and solutions, backed by reliable and consistent advice from investment specialists across the Group.
Our AUM growth has averaged above 10% annually for the past five years.
Digitalisation has been another key to our success. We have always led the industry in market-moving digital innovations. We offer one of the most comprehensive digital wealth offerings of any bank on our OCBC Digital app, including access to equities trading, robo-investments, 24/7 FX and precious metals.
Our customers can make Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions directly from digital banking channels — a first in Singapore — and we enabled eligible Singaporeans to collect government pay outs at ATMs using facial biometrics. We leveraged the Singapore Financial Data Exchange (SGFinDex) and integrated data from seven insurers to provide holistic financial planning to customers.
Digital wealth sales have grown more than four times in two years. We even grew our base of active digital customers to 64% from 58% in 2021.
I am happy with the agility we showed in a fast-rising interest rate environment which enabled us to remain competitive in both the loans and deposits businesses despite the challenging operating environment.
What are your key areas of focus for 2023?
We will accelerate acquisition, deepen engagement with customers, and grow our Premier Banking business.
While we seek to replicate our Singapore success in Malaysia, Indonesia and Hong Kong, we expect competition from new digital bank entrants and incumbents alike. I believe customer-centric digital offerings, complemented by the human touch, is key in setting us apart and helping to move customers towards primary banking relationships with us.
Hence, even as we double down on digital banking capabilities, we will continue to improve the branch experience.
We must move towards a single offering where the differentiation between ‘physical’ and ‘digital’ is removed. Customers should always feel they can engage with just one channel — the bank. We will leverage data and design to create seamless and hyper-personalised experiences for customers to achieve this.
As global travel picks up, we are optimistic about consumers’ return to discretionary spending. In Singapore, travel accounted for one third of the overall growth in card spend in 2022. We improved the proposition of our OCBC 365 credit card and reinstated the ‘Spend’ bonus interest category on our flagship OCBC 360 account, while revising interest rates to remain competitive. We relaunched our OCBC Cashflo credit card as ‘NXT’ to capture younger customers. Since then, monthly OCBC 360 account openings have more than doubled, and monthly OCBC 365 credit card acquisitions have increased more than 80% on average. In 2023, we expect demand to remain healthy.
What opportunities do you see in sustainable finance and investments and how do you plan to seize them?
Our sustainable financing sales have grown fourfold from 2021, and more than 80% of our recommended funds have a minimum ‘BB’ MSCI ESG Rating in 2022.
Increasing transparency is important so customers have information to make sustainable choices. We launched ESG ratings for our OCBC RoboInvest portfolios and two ESG-integrated funds in 2022, with more on the way.
We must tap on innovation and organisational partnerships to drive sustainability. We began a research initiative with the National University of Singapore to understand what messages would encourage Singaporeans to adopt electric vehicles. These insights will enable us to develop relevant products and services for customers.