We have also seen meaningful growth in the penetration rate of our clients within alternative investing, having invested in our alternative capital platform over the last few years.

Receiving various accolades – such as ‘Best Overall Asia Private Bank’ by WealthBriefing Asia and ‘Best Client Reporting Platform in Asia’ by Professional Wealth Management is testament to our commitment to our clients.

On the people front, we made new strategic senior appointments across our three hubs in 2023 to shore up our bench strength. We are committed to creating opportunities and strengthening the organisational culture for our people, also our greatest asset, to collaborate, succeed and thrive.

Sharpening our focus

Coming into this role in March last year, I had a very clear goal for Bank of Singapore; to be the top Asian Private Bank – rooted in Asia, but global in perspectives.

I am confident that this is within our reach given our stellar track record.

This is despite the Bank being one of the youngest private banks in the industry.

Singapore’s growing stature as a global wealth management hub and Asia’s rising prosperity, position us well to achieve our goal.

Building on the previous successes, we intend to sharpen our capabilities for the next stage of growth. As such, we went through a reorganisation in 2023, with a view to ensure we have the right pillars and engines for the next phase of growth.

One part of the reorganisation was about working to reduce cross-border management by business heads with more robust in-market oversight and governance, while sharpening our focus on family offices and financial intermediaries.

A dedicated advisory platform for our family office and financial intermediary clients has been created, to provide them with customised solutions and services to meet the increasing demand for wealth planning and portfolio advisory. We are confident that the enhanced platform will further accelerate our growth in this segment in the coming years.

In fact, there is potential for the financial intermediary segment in Asia to grow to similar levels as that of Europe’s. Based on our estimates, the segment constitutes about 30% of the private wealth business there.

We also strengthened hub-to-region strategies. Meaning, Singapore will clearly serve Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Japan, as well as Non-resident Indian (NRI) and Chinese clients. Hong Kong will serve Hong Kong SAR, China and Taiwan. The Dubai and European offices will serve the Middle East, Europe and the NRI clients there.

A unit dedicated to driving One Group collaboration to meet our ultra-high net worth clients’ business and financial needs beyond wealth management has been set up. We want to make it clear that we offer a comprehensive suite of financial solutions (from corporate and commercial banking to treasury and insurance) through the OCBC Group’s strong network across ASEAN and Greater China.

Our Chief Investment Office is now a standalone unit. This will strengthen our value proposition of becoming the go-to bank for mandate solutions and discretionary portfolio management.

We will continue to strengthen our alternative investments offering by expanding our platform for greater access to direct co-investments into private companies, as well as a much more comprehensive suite of hedge fund solutions and portfolios.

Looking ahead

Heading into 2024, the economic outlook may weaken given restrictive monetary policy settings and geopolitical uncertainties.

The private banking space remains a crowded one. So does the financial intermediaries space. Fintech proliferation and digitisation will also continue to make asset management easier for clients to execute.

That said, this will not deter us from our commitment to clients. We will continue to help them navigate the challenges ahead, access opportunities, manage risks and align their portfolios to their investment goals.

We must clearly differentiate ourselves. Our role is to educate and advise, to help our clients navigate the volatile wealth landscape. Access may be easy to get nowadays but the expertise we have must and will remain valuable to clients through the generations.

The development of our talent and a strong sense of teamwork are an area that the management team and I pay particular attention to.

While we continue to invest in digital tools to provide timely and personalised advisory services and investment solutions, people remain firmly at the centre of our strategy.

We want everyone to win together. Growth, we believe, will come as a result of teamwork and a sense of togetherness.

Bank of Singapore organized the “In Conversation with The Right Honourable Dame Jacinda Ardern” client conference in November 2023. The former New Zealand Prime Minister shared her views on several topics in a dialogue hosted by prominent business leader Mr Ho Kwon Ping.