Shareholders quiz DBS about contingency plans, POSB's deposit rates

Shareholders' queries ranged from whether POSB could offer higher interest rates on savings deposits to what contingency plans DBS has in case of telco network failures. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS
Shareholders' queries ranged from whether POSB could offer higher interest rates on savings deposits to what contingency plans DBS has in case of telco network failures. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Shareholders of DBS Group posed a wide range of questions to the bank's directors on Monday at a two-hour annual general meeting.

Their queries ranged from whether POSB could offer higher interest rates on savings deposits to what contingency plans DBS has in case of telco network failures.

POSB's social role in Singapore came up as a topic of discussion several times throughout the meeting, with shareholders bringing up issues such as service levels and deposit rates.

In response, chief executive Piyush Gupta said the bank has to balance its commercial interests with that of its stakeholders, including customers.

He noted that the bank's interest margins have shrunk substantially over the past few years as global interest rates sunk to historic lows, while deposit rates have fallen at a slower pace.

"The reality is that banks have absorbed some of the reduction in rates," he said. "We have already made a balanced compromise. We have a range of subsidised loan packages for social enterprises and mortgage products with much lower rates for HDB home owners."

Mr Gupta added that DBS has implemented various initiatives over the past few years to raise service standards at all its branches.

Peak hour branch waiting times have fallen from two hours previously to 40 minutes now. Most customers now wait an average of 15 minutes.

DBS has also tied up with Buzz pods and 7-Eleven to offer more convenient cash withdrawals for customers.

Another major topic of discussion was an increase in the directors' pay packages. DBS board member Euleen Goh explained that the bank hiked pay as its directors were previously among the lowest paid across Singapore banks.

In addition, as banking is becoming more complex, DBS wanted to raise the irdirectors' remuneration to be more in line with the market, she aded.

Ms Goh was chairing the meeting on behalf of DBS chairman Peter Seah, who is in the hospital after a mountain biking accident over the weekend.

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