Kenneth Lai promoted to OCBC's head of global treasury

Kenneth Lai joined OCBC in 2012 as head of international treasury. PHOTO: OCBC

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - Banking veteran Kenneth Lai was named OCBC's new head of global treasury effective on Oct 1, in an internal appointment that is part of the bank's leadership renewal.

He will be reporting directly to OCBC's group chief executive officer Samuel Tsien, and will also be appointed as a member of the bank's management committee.

Mr Lai will be taking over from Lam Kun Kin, senior executive vice-president and head of global treasury, who is retiring after 33 years in the financial industry.

Having joined OCBC in 2012 as head of international treasury, Mr Lai managed all international treasury centres under OCBC Bank.

Under his watch, he had "significantly expanded and strengthened the bank's international treasury operations, product and market coverage, as well as earnings contribution", according to a statement by OCBC.

After the acquisition of Hong Kong's Wing Hang Bank in 2014 to become OCBC Wing Hang Bank, Mr Lai also helped to transform the two treasury platforms in Hong Kong into a hub covering North Asia.

Since 2015, he has also been responsible for the bank's asset and liability management globally, strengthening its liquidity deployment and funding centralisation.

Prior to OCBC, his 30-year career spanned different geographies in Asia and different functions across trading, sales and asset liability management.

He last worked for Ta Chong Bank in Taiwan, where he was appointed as head of financial markets by the Carlyle Group to help revamp its investment buyout.

Between 2001 and 2008, he held several key appointments with ABN Amro Bank in Singapore, including Asia head of local markets FX and Asia head of institutional sales, as well as its head of global markets Malaysia based in Kuala Lumpur. He started his career at Banker Trust Company and has also worked for other financial institutions including Merrill Lynch and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.

On the appointment, Mr Tsien noted that Mr Lai is "no stranger to OCBC", whose "strong leadership and business acumen have enabled him to significantly expand and strengthen the operations". This has increased the earnings contribution of all overseas treasury centres, he pointed out.

Mr Lai's additional role in asset liability management has also enhanced the bank's liquidity management capabilities and funding optimisation, he said.

Mr Tsien added: "Ken's latest appointment is another testimony of how we actively manage ahead for succession planning where we review regularly our mid to senior-level management bench strength on a forward-looking basis."

He also thanked the outgoing Mr Lam for his contributions over the past 13 years. Mr Lam had joined OCBC in 2007 as executive vice-president and head of global treasury, and then appointed senior executive vice-president in 2011. In addition to global treasury, Mr Lam oversaw the Bank's Global Investment Banking from 2012 to February 2020.

"Not only has Kun Kin enhanced the business models which have expanded our regional diversification and strengthened our customer engagement, he has built a strong work culture in the trading room that promotes prudent risk taking and control," said Mr Tsien. "He has also invested in a robust infrastructure centred on active utilisation of technology. We greatly appreciate Kun Kin's dedication and leadership in building our business franchise and wish him well in his retirement."

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