Bank of S'pore hiring staff for Mid-East wealth

The private-banking arm of OCBC Bank is adding more staff in Dubai, as the Singapore lender seeks a greater role in managing the money of the Middle East's wealthy and of Indians living overseas.

Bank of Singapore plans to hire about 20 relationship managers next year to cater to non-resident Indians and rich people in the Arab world, according to Mr Vikram Malhotra, the bank's global market head for South Asia and the Middle East.

Most of the additions will be based in Dubai, though some will be located in Singapore and Hong Kong to bolster the bank's non-resident Indian teams in those cities, Mr Malhotra said in an interview last week.

Bank of Singapore opened a Dubai branch in February and currently has about 45 wealth managers in the city, which serves as a regional financial hub for the oil-rich Persian Gulf region.

The total wealth in the Middle East grew 5 per cent last year to US$2.4 trillion (S$3.2 trillion), according to estimates from consultancy Capgemini.

Bank of Singapore has seen a "phenomenal growth in the assets under management" in the Middle East and from wealthy overseas Indians this year, said Mr Malhotra, who joined the private bank from Barclays when the London-based bank sold its wealth units in Hong Kong and Singapore to OCBC last year for US$227.5 million.

About 15 former Barclays wealth managers joined Bank of Singapore in Dubai, he added.

All of the clients inherited from Barclays "are still here and growing", said Mr Malhotra, who headed South and South-east Asian wealth operations when he was at the British bank.

At the time of completing the acquisition last year, Bank of Singapore said it would gain more than 60 relationship managers from Barclays, bringing the total at the private bank to about 400.

Dubai is second only to Singapore as an offshore destination for Indian wealth, according to Capgemini.

About 22 per cent of their overseas assets went to Singapore in the second quarter, with 14 per cent going to Dubai and 13 per cent to London, the research firm said in a report last month.

Apart from non-resident Indians in the region, Bank of Singapore sees particular opportunities in managing the wealth of citizens of the United Arab Emirates, Mr Malhotra said.

BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 20, 2017, with the headline 'Bank of S'pore hiring staff for Mid-East wealth'. Print Edition | Subscribe