SINGAPORE - Swiss bank UBS's Asia Pacific business achieved its best-ever quarterly wealth management performance in the first three months of the year.
UBS announced the results on Wednesday (April 28) - the same day it officially moved into its new office at 9 Penang Road - the bank's largest centre in the region.
Profit before tax for its Asia Pacific arm rose 21 per cent year on year to US$0.9 billion for the three months to March 30.
Assets under management reached an all time high of US$761 billion, up 40 per cent year on year, while invested assets under the global wealth management unit jumped 42 per cent to US$576 billion.
Asia Pacific president Edmund Koh said: "Asia Pacific started off the year at a record pace, achieving the region's best-ever first-quarter performance... on the back of strong markets and higher client activity.
"Asia-Pacific is a key growth area for UBS and today it contributes 37 per cent of the group's profit before tax."
He added that Singapore is one of the bank's top two wealth management centres in the region and the South-east Asian headquarters for the investment bank. It is also the regional hub for foreign exchange, rates and credit.
The new space near Dhoby Ghaut accommodates the bank's 3,000 or so employees and provides client lounges across its 400,000 sq ft.
It also hosts the UBS university campus, which provides areas for clients and staff to take virtual and physical classes, and the bank's first global cyber fusion centre, a facility that brings together information security technology to mitigate online risks.
An innovation hub with technologies like virtual reality and artificial intelligence to focus on the future economy has been set up as well.
UBS's country head of Singapore, Mr August Hatecke, said that the importance of Singapore is "growing very fast" especially in the last year, with assets here doubling in the past five years.
Mr Koh noted that Hong Kong would roughly have taken take 75 cents of each dollar of new assets, while Singapore would have 25 cents. But this balance has shifted to 50-50.
"Within South-east Asia itself, the wealth growth of new companies is actually phenomenal... Singapore benefited from that growth, and not because of issues in Hong Kong," he noted.
Singapore's communication standards, rule of law, cosmopolitan talent pool and trust that the Government has built are factors that make it a hub.
Mr Koh said: "The growth of Singapore as an epicentre for the Asia Pacific will be very important as it draws its balance as a counterweight across the tension that you will see around the world, whether politically or economically."
Mr Hatecke, who is also co-head of global wealth management for the region, added: "Talent development has always been important to us, as we nurture a future generation of bankers for Singapore."
One of the growth areas here will be in family offices, he added, as wealthy clients come to Singapore and bring their assets along.
He said: "We definitely have big plans here in (Asia Pacific) because we see a growing region ...We have plans to expand our business and grow our teams."