Record Financial Results

Our 2023 net profit rose robustly to an all-time high of $7.02 billion, with return on equity at 13.7%. Income growth was diversified across our business franchise accompanied by strong cost discipline, whilst our healthy credit portfolio quality reflected our prudent risk management. Our capital and liquidity positions remained strong, with Common Equity Tier 1 Capital Adequacy Ratio at 15.9%. We maintained our credit ratings of Aa1 from Moody’s and AA- from both Fitch and S&P, placing us as one of the world’s most highly-rated banks. Our Group CEO, Helen Wong, will further discuss in detail our financial results on pages 8 to 11 of this report.

Higher Sustainable Dividends

The Board has recommended a final dividend of 42 cents per share, bringing the full year 2023 dividend higher to 82 cents, up 21% from 68 cents in 2022. This represents a payout ratio of 53%, comparable to last year. This is in-line with our declared dividend policy, which we announced in February 2023, to distribute a target payout ratio of 50% to our shareholders, barring unforeseen circumstances.

Our dividend payout strikes a balance of providing attractive returns to shareholders as they share in the benefits of OCBC’s growth, whilst allowing OCBC to maintain a strong capital position to handle any adverse effects stemming from ongoing geopolitical and macroeconomic challenges. Our capital strength will also enable OCBC to seize future opportunities that complement our strategy and purpose; and indeed, we have deployed resources in 2023 to acquire businesses in Indonesia and Malaysia.

Refreshing Our Purpose, Values and Ambition

2023 marks OCBC’s 91st year of continual operations. Amid a challenging external environment, it was timely that the Board initiated over the course of the year, an exercise to refine and reflect on the key drivers that have contributed to OCBC’s longevity. The result was a renewed clarity of our Purpose, Values and Ambition, and the Board will work to ensure that future generations of employees will continue to do the right things for all our stakeholders.

Powering Our Ambitions Forward

Our ambition for OCBC’s future is bold: to be Asia’s leading financial services partner for a sustainable future. Very few banks in this region can rival us in the diversity and inter-connectedness of our franchise, developed through both organic and inorganic growth over the decades. We are uniquely a financial group that possesses a remarkably comprehensive banking, wealth management, insurance and asset management franchise which clearly differentiates us from our peers, in both structure and capabilities. We have a standalone leading private bank in Asia, Bank of Singapore; the oldest and most established life insurance group in Singapore and Malaysia in Great Eastern Holdings; and one of the largest asset managers in Southeast Asia, Lion Global Investors. We have also a sizeable stake in our associate, Bank of Ningbo, a domestic systemically important bank in China that is ranked amongst the top 20 largest Chinese banks by assets as of June 2023.

We have deep network presence in our core markets of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Greater China. Our regional and international network has been progressively expanded beyond our core markets to support customers seeking new markets, and we will continue to explore opportunities to further our presence.

We are acutely cognisant of the ongoing geopolitical and structural shifts which will substantially reshape the future operating landscape. While these present challenges, they also provide OCBC with generational opportunities to leverage on new wealth, investment and trade flows. We are well poised to support offshoring of manufacturing activities into Southeast Asia given our extensive network in this region. We are also able to capture cross-border wealth flows through both our established Private Banking hubs in Singapore, Hong Kong SAR and Dubai, and our extensive regional Wealth Management centres.

It is imperative that we develop a sharp focus on how we capture these new opportunities and position OCBC for the future. In the coming years, we will work to derive more value from our market-facing franchises and build stronger operational resiliency and efficiency, all underpinned with the best-in-class technologies. This will be accompanied by a reiteration for greater internal synergies and collaboration within OCBC and with the wider Group, including Great Eastern Holdings and Lion Global Investors.

We are confident that OCBC has the capital and people resources to do so. The Board will ensure that there is close alignment with Management and within all OCBC Group entities in achieving our goals, to deliver greater value to our shareholders in the years ahead.

Guiding Best Outcomes for a Sustainable Future

The Board remains committed to sustainability in OCBC’s operations, and will champion the transition to a net-zero future and will work in alignment with the communities where we operate to support their aspirations. We will also remain steadfast in our diversity commitments. This was underscored by the creation of a Board Sustainability Committee in February 2023, which will provide board oversight of sustainability matters for OCBC.

We consciously refresh the Board composition periodically to ensure a diverse and well-balanced representation of gender, experience, skills and age. This approach is also adopted by all our subsidiaries. In September 2023, we warmly welcomed Mr Seck Wai Kwong, who joined the Board as an Independent Director. The Board implements the same practice in its appointment of senior management. In 2023, we appointed both our Head of Greater China and CEO of OCBC Hong Kong, and CEO of OCBC China through internal talent rotation.

Looking Ahead

Navigating the complex geopolitical environment in 2024 will continue to be very challenging. Severe disruptions to supply chains could also affect our regional economies. Notwithstanding the possibility of rate cuts over the course of this year, the fact is that interest rates will remain elevated and that will challenge the financial abilities of some businesses and individuals to service their existing loans.

These events are unprecedented in recent times. Therefore, we have to continue to be highly vigilant and nimble in taking decisive action where needed. We will boldly handle these challenges and are confident that OCBC will deliver greater value into the future.


In closing, I would like to thank my fellow Board members for their wise counsel and insights over the course of 2023. On behalf of the Board, I also express my gratitude to our dedicated employees who exemplify our purpose and values in the market-place. To our shareholders, customers and communities, we humbly thank you for your continued trust and support.

Andrew Lee
February 2024