Keep cool amid market volatility: DBS chief

DBS Group chief executive Piyush Gupta presenting the bank’s outlook for the second half of 2016 at a client luncheon on July 8, 2016.
DBS Group chief executive Piyush Gupta presenting the bank’s outlook for the second half of 2016 at a client luncheon on July 8, 2016.PHOTO: DBS

This has been an eventful year with Brexit being the latest event to shake market confidence globally but DBS Group chief executive Piyush Gupta advises investors to keep a cool head.

"Stay calm, don't panic, and go through the noise," said Mr Gupta, noting that such a strategy is important, particularly as financial markets appear to be "dislocating" from the real economy.

Mr Gupta told a client lunch held to hear the bank's outlook for the second half of 2016 that Britain's decision to leave the European Union raises the question of whether the major investment banks will move out of London.

"It's not easy to do that... to move out of London," he said, adding that he expects London to continue to maintain its importance as one of the leading financial hubs in the world, which has been well-established over the past decades.

Mr Gupta's comments come on the back of news that British Chancellor George Osborne and some of the biggest investment banks in the United States - including Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley - have pledged to safeguard London's status as an international financial centre in a post-Brexit Britain.

A joint statement from Mr Osborne and the investment bank leaders said: "Britain's decision to leave the EU clearly presents economic challenges, which we are determined to work together to meet."

The biggest challenge in Britain is political leadership, said Mr Gupta.

"Today nobody is driving the ship," he added, referring to the leadership vaccum in Britain as the ruling Conservative party moves to find a leader to replace outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron.

Mr Gupta said the country will face more uncertainty if this continues for a long period.

Still, amid all the volatility that is expected to rack markets globally, DBS chief investment officer Lim Say Boon believes there is a bright spot for investors - in Asia ex-Japan income stocks.

Mr Lim told the lunch gathering he expects Asia ex-Japan income stocks to outperform global equities in the second half of the year, as economies in this part of the world have a lot more room to see an upside, compared with the US market, for instance. He noted that dividend yields in Asia ex-Japan, at 3.3 per cent, are much higher than the global average of 2.7 per cent.

He also expects China to continue to ease monetary conditions cautiously, through lower interest rates, higher loans growth and a weaker currency, which will be a boost for H-shares (Chinese shares listed in Hong Kong) .

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 09, 2016, with the headline 'Keep cool amid market volatility: DBS chief'. Print Edition | Subscribe