Awards for Distinction 2016 – Best Private Bank – Singapore



Bahren Shaari

Bahren Shaari
chief executive officer
Bank of Singapore

It is in moments like these, when client portfolios face excessive turbulence and transactional flows dry up, that the traditional private banking model is at its most compelling. The delegation core portfolio management duties (especially in a still ultra-low rate environment) the avoiding of excessive client-directed risks is a lofty ideal that few banks have managed to meet.

However, Bank of Singapore’s pursuit of this ideal has, in turn, insulated clients and bankers from the risks posed by unsound opportunities, undisciplined investing and unchecked zeal. Unwilling to settle for just gathering brokerage revenue from regional HNWIs, Bank of Singapore has cultivated a diverse business that encompasses all facets of wealth management.

It has already built a deep pool of discretionary assets – its last publicly disclosed penetration rate of 17% has since grown to over double Asian Private Banker’s estimate of the industry average in Asia. The bank has achieved this impressive rate in a mere eight years, even as pedigreed European players struggle to break double digits. Its focus on fee-based offerings has enabled it to moderate expenses and register a cost/income ratio significantly below industry average.

The bank’s investment solutions have been proven to deliver long-term returns across the board. Its equity, fixed income and funds solutions have all posted benchmark-beating performance. Perhaps the most indicative quantitative hint of the bank’s culture of risk management is the track record of its buy, sell or hold recommendations: its marginal sell recommendations have still eked out slight gains, illustrating a healthy skew towards risk aversion.

Most impressive is that Bank of Singapore has achieved such stable growth amidst its integration of Barclays’ wealth businesses in Hong Kong and Singapore – a deal that saw it transfer US$13 billion in AUM and more than 60 bankers.

Bank of Singapore’s rise owes a lot of its success to the arm’s-length relationship it has with parent group OCBC. Running on a separate balance sheet, profit and loss account and with independent management, Bank of Singapore has circumvented the challenges that many Asian peers face when building out private banking arms, including resource sharing across platform and talent.

Bank of Singapore is Asian Private Banker’s Best Private Bank – Singapore for 2016.