Months after setting up a branch in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Bank of Singapore, a wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore-based OCBC Bank, is now looking to accelerate its Middle East expansion plans.
According to a Bloomberg report, Bank of Singapore is planning to hire around 20 executives to manage the private wealth of Middle East citizens. OCBC currently has about 45 relationship managers in Dubai alone.
In February 2017, Bank of Singapore opened its first branch in DIFC, as part of its strategy to capitalise on fast-growing population of ultra-high and high-net worth individuals (HNW) in this region. The Middle East is home to a number of HNW individuals and private wealth in the region is expected to increase faster than traditionally strong areas like North America and Europe in the coming years. According to Boston Consulting Group, by 2020, private wealth in the Middle East and North Africa is set to rise at a compound annual rate of over 8% to $11.8 trillion.
Set up in 2004, DIFC is home to about 200 wealth and asset management companies. Bank of Singapore opened its first representative office in Middle East in 1996.
The report suggested that Bank of Singapore will finish hiring the new relationship managers by 2018. It added that most of them will be located in Dubai, while some of them could join the bank’s operations in Singapore and Hong Kong.
It also cited Bank of Singapore’s Global Market Head for South Asia and the Middle East, Vikram Malhotra, as saying that the bank has recorded a sharp rise in the assets under management in the Middle East, as well as from the non-resident Indians in 2017.
A recent Capgemini study indicated that Dubai is the second most preferred offshore investment destination for wealthy Indians. In the second quarter of 2017, 14.4% of overseas assets of Indians were in Dubai and 22% of Indian wealth had reached Singapore.
In 2016, Bank of Singapore had acquired Barclays PLC’s wealth and investment management business in Singapore and Hong Kong, hoping to further strengthen its presence in leading Asian markets. The acquisition resulted in Bank of Singapore’s total assets under management rising to over US$75 billion, compared to US$22 billion in 2010 when the bank was formed. With the acquisition, Bank of Singapore also added 60 executives to its team of private bankers serving ultra-high net worth individuals and high net worth individuals.