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How Bank of Singapore is tapping this Southeast Asian jewel

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Olivier Denis believes that what sets BOS Wealth Management Malaysia (BOSWM) apart from its local Malaysian competitors is the global solutions Bank of Singapore has on its product platform.

“Most of the Malaysian HNWIs have existing global exposure,” the global market head of Singapore, Malaysia and international, told Asian Private Banker. “And we want to complement the client’s portfolio with our wider range of offerings globally and locally.”

“We can actively invest and advise on ringgit-based investments and have ringgit hedges on the non-Malaysian investments made,” he said, adding that demand for wealth solutions is increasing in the Southeast Asian country.

Between 2021 and 2026, Malaysia is expected to see a 43% increase in the number of UHNW individuals — one of the fastest rates of growth in Asia, according to Knight Frank.

Because BOSWM is licensed by the Securities Commission Malaysia, it can provide investment advice and portfolio solutions in Malaysia directly to customers in Malaysia. For Denis, this means that BOSWM has an edge over global competitors that do not have a Malaysian set-up

BOSWM is 100% owned by Bank of Singapore and is part of the OCBC Group, which considers Malaysia and Singapore as two of its key markets. It offers customised wealth management solutions and investment advisory services to UHNW and HNW clients.

Apart from BOSWM, OCBC’s presence in Malaysia include OCBC Bank (Malaysia) Berhad and Great Eastern Life Assurance (Malaysia) Berhad.

Customising DPM offerings

Through Bank of Singapore and BOSWM, Denis feels OCBC is uniquely positioned to manufacture solutions tailored to HNWs across generations. Malaysian HNW investors are as sophisticated as investors elsewhere in Asia, but tend to have higher return expectations.

“They are open minded when it comes to new solutions, and DPM is not new to Malaysia, but the existing offerings often come with limited customisation. This is where we believe the opportunity lies.”

BOSWM offers a full range of DPM services specifically designed for HNWIs, with customisation and access to a wide investment opportunity set across asset classes, both local and foreign. The group invests in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, but Asia makes up the largest part of client allocations.

Currently, BOSWM is building core strategies for clients as the base asset allocation in their respective portfolio, and at the same time it is looking at alternatives that fit clients’ appetite. It is also working on bringing non-discretionary solutions to the Malaysian market.

“This model provides ongoing engagement with the customer, who has involvement throughout — in terms of asset allocation, vehicle and securities selection — which we believe will prove very popular here in Malaysia,” he explained.

Sharia complements ESG

With growing personal wealth, Denis believes there is a need and opportunity for products that meet the values of Islamic finance and provide access to a wide range of investment themes and asset classes — ESG being one of them.

Since globally there has been a growing demand for both ESG and Sharia-compliant investments, he is expecting to see strong growth in investments that integrate both these segments.

“Fundamentally, ESG and Islamic finance are complementary investment approaches with many shared principles, such as being a good steward to society and the environment,” he said. “Hence, the trend is towards a convergence between ESG and Sharia investing.

Among the ASEAN6 countries, Malaysia is leading in the issuance of sustainable and responsible investing sukuk, according to Ernst & Young Consulting. The total value of issued sukuk stands at US$3.9 billion.

In equities, Bursa Malaysia launched the FTSE4Good Bursa Malaysia Shariah (F4GBMS) Index in July 2021 to meet the demand for ESG and Sharia-compliant index solutions.

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