Upfront with Teck Long
“With a strong foundation in place, coupled with our robust international franchise, deep sectoral expertise and strong digital capabilities, we are well placed to seize opportunities and support our customers in the coming years ahead.”
Tan Teck LongGlobal Wholesale Banking
What were some of the highlights in 2022?
The Wholesale Banking Division was able to navigate the volatile economic landscape successfully, achieving a record operating profit in 2022, close to 50% higher than a year ago. This was supported by broad-based loan growth, higher treasury income and interest rate hikes.
We have achieved good outcomes in tapping flows between Greater China and ASEAN, focusing on sustainability and effective data analytics to target customer segments for business generation and risk management.
To better support increasing ASEAN-Greater China trade and investment flows, we expanded our Greater China Business Office coverage beyond Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, to include Indonesia. With the expanded network, we were able to better support Greater China corporates investing in ASEAN.
In Singapore, we deepened our partnership with the public sector to broaden the suite of digital solutions to better serve the community. Collaborating with GovTech, the government technology agency that drives digital transformation in the public service, we rolled out a national digital payment service through GovWallet on the LifeSG mobile application for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents to receive government payments, instead of cheques and paper vouchers. They can either transfer the payments to PayNow NRIC-linked bank accounts, or spend them at merchants that accept payment via PayNow UEN or NETS QR.
Our records show that close to 3 million transactions, totalling over $100 million, were made through this service in 2022.
We continued our digitalisation efforts to acquire and deepen our relationships with SME customers as well as improve customer experience. To help our SME customers better understand their businesses, we launched Business Trends on our Business Mobile Banking app, providing personalised data-driven insights on sales, expenses and cashflow. Leveraging data analytics, we were able to better identify loan opportunities from our SME customer base. We were also the first bank in Singapore to enable digital passport authentication for foreign business owners.
As Malaysia and Indonesia wound down their moratorium schemes, we have proactively engaged and supported our SME customers in these markets to assist them with a smooth transition. We will continue to support SMEs as they recover and grow.
What progress has been made on the sustainable financing front?
Good progress was made in growing our sustainable finance commitments during the year. We achieved over $10 billion in new sustainable finance commitments, bringing our total commitments to $44 billion — on track to achieve our target of $50 billion by 2025. In addition, we completed almost three times as many sustainable and green bond deals, tripling the proceeds raised in 2021.
What was particularly pleasing to see was a shift by SMEs — who play a crucial role in addressing climate change — in how sustainability is viewed. They now see sustainability as a business risk consideration, where it is a key driver of business viability and long-term survival, as opposed to a good-to-have.
This shift contributed to over 600 SMEs and mid-cap corporates across Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong, taking up sustainable financing in 2022 — close to three times higher than a year ago.
We signed up to the United Nations-convened, industry-led Net-Zero Banking Alliance and are on track to unveil our sectoral financed emission targets in 2023. To achieve net zero by 2050, we have begun developing a systematic plan.
To drive the transition, we will heighten client engagement, develop new financing solutions and collaborate with partners to build ecosystems and encourage innovations in climate solutions.
What is your outlook for 2023?
The economic outlook for 2023 is expected to remain uncertain, with headwinds such as interest rate hikes and a slowdown in global demand.
We will continue to remain nimble and stay focused on executing our ASEAN-Greater China strategy. ASEAN continues to register strong economic growth due to its young demographics, macro trends of investing in ASEAN to improve global supply chain resilience and continued ASEAN-Greater China trade and investment flows. With Mainland China re-opening borders, this is expected to provide a boost for the region.
Sustainability will continue to be a multi-year trend and opportunity for us. We are committed to working with industry peers, customers and policymakers to transition into a low-carbon world.
With a strong foundation in place, coupled with our robust international franchise, deep sectoral expertise and strong digital capabilities, we are well placed to seize opportunities and support our customers in the coming years ahead.