Mon, Mar 19, 2018 - Page 14 News List

Bank of Singapore to expand family office business


Bank of Singapore Ltd chief executive officer Bahren Shaari poses for a photograph in Singapore on Thursday.

Photo: Bloomberg

Bank of Singapore Ltd (新加坡銀行), the private banking arm of Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp (OCBC, 華僑銀行), is looking to expand its family office business as the city-state rolls out the red carpet for wealthy investors.

“We are seeing increasing demand for families moving into the next generation to set a proper structure in place to manage family wealth,” chief executive officer Bahren Shaari said in an interview on Thursday. “Singapore is promoting that, to let families use it as a base to manage their investment activities globally.”

Bank of Singapore’s expansion would heighten competition with European firms such as UBS Group AG and Credit Suisse Group AG, who have long dominated this space.

Singapore family offices had average assets under management of US$857 million last year, nearly double the Asia-Pacific average of US$445 million, according to a survey of 262 such offices in a UBS/Campden report.

The expansion is to be spearheaded by Lee Woon Shiu (李文修), a managing director who currently looks after Bank of Singapore’s wealth planning and trust solutions, Shaari said.

While the bank does not plan to substantially increase the number of relationship managers it employs from about 400 now, it aims to double assets under management to US$500 million per banker over the next three to four years, he told Bloomberg TV on Friday.

Bank of Singapore also plans to open a new Taiwan unit to tap OCBC’s onshore presence.

The expanded family office business in Singapore would especially focus on rich families from China, Europe, and the Middle East, who are looking to invest in the Southeast Asian nation.

The Singapore government provides incentives including tax exemptions for funds managed by family offices for both offshore and onshore vehicles.

That offers the advantage that the offices would not pay Singapore tax on most of its investment gains, Shaari said.

Bank of Singapore’s assets under management rose to US$100 billion last month, after increasing an average 21 percent each year over the past five years.

The bank ranked No. 7 among Asia’s largest private banks in 2016, data compiled by Asian Private Banker showed.

To help expand its wealth and family office business in Europe, Bank of Singapore hired Anthony Adriano Simcic this month from HSBC Private Bank in Luxembourg. Simcic is to remain in the European city, which would be used as a base in addition to London.

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