Published: 18:49, May 29, 2024
OCBC Bank to pursue twin-hub strategy for business growth
By Oswald Chan
Rickie Chan (left), Greater China head of private banking at OCBC Bank and chief executive at Bank of Singapore Hong Kong Branch; Helen Wong (center), OCBC Bank Group chief executive officer; and Wang Ke, CEO of OCBC Hong Kong and head of Greater China at OCBC Bank (right), are photographed at the bank’s media luncheon held on May 29, 2024. (OSWALD CHAN / CHINA DAILY)

Singaporean lender OCBC Bank says it will leverage its operation base in Hong Kong and Singapore to support the bank’s two-way business flows between the Chinese mainland and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries.

“Our mainland business is to support the connectivity between the Chinese mainland and ASEAN. With the rise of ‘China Plus M’ strategy, more global companies are diversifying their businesses to ever-more countries, so that OCBC Bank also needs to consider diversifying its markets,” OCBC Bank Group Chief Executive Officer Helen Wong said.

“We have to recruit more talent and invest our business capability in transaction banking and capital management by providing more banking products and solutions. It is not about acquiring another mainland bank for business expansion,” she added.

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Wong expressed her hope that the investment can make their products and services a better channel for supporting their mainland corporate clients going out.

Putting geopolitics aside, as many clients become wealthier and more sophisticated, they understand that they need to diversify their assets, and we see a lot of opportunities in this space.

Rickie Chan, OCBC Bank

Between now and 2026, OCBC Bank will invest HK$1.5 billion ($192 million) into modernizing its technology platforms, channels and facilities across the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan markets. The bank will also hire over 300 new engineering professionals over the next three years on the mainland to support the banking group’s digital transformation and complement business growth.

Rickie Chan, Greater China head of private banking at OCBC Bank, and chief executive at Bank of Singapore Hong Kong Branch — OCBC Bank’s private banking arm — agreed that the private bank is adopting a hub-driven strategy to capture the wealth management business potential in the Asia region.

“Putting geopolitics aside, as many clients become wealthier and more sophisticated, they understand that they need to diversify their assets, and we see a lot of opportunities in this space,” he said.

“One core element of the twin-hub strategy is that Hong Kong and Singapore can grow together. It is more a win-win value proposition rather than a zero-sum game scenario,” said Wang Ke, CEO of OCBC Hong Kong and head of Greater China at OCBC Bank.

The combined four markets of the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan are key contributors to OCBC Bank. In 2023, these four markets accounted for 21 percent of the banking group’s profit before tax, compared to just 6 percent in 2013.

Last year, OCBC Bank recorded a net profit of S$7 billion ($5.19 billion), up 27 percent from a year ago.