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Is Singapore's DBS the best place to work in wealth management?

It’s a good time to be a private banker in Singapore. And it's an even better time to be a private banker at DBS. 

Analysis from market intelligence provider Tricumen suggests that Singapore, as well as Australia, is becoming the place to be for wealth in Asia. Chinese investors are moving money there and Middle East investors are wary of regional instability, so Singapore is winning on both counts.  

And if you're based in Singapore, DBS might be the best place to be.

The two charts below explain why. They show relative performance, measured by metric in the title. The banks named  are compared to a group average for operating revenues per full time employee and to operating revenues generated by assets under management. The average is shown by the dashed line, with the lines emanating from the centre indicating half a standard deviation from the average. The further from the centre the better. 

 

DBS is, by quite some margin, the most efficient in terms of operating revenue per front office full-time employee. It’s nearly three standard deviations above the peer-group average, far outperforming its closest rivals – Goldman Sachs, HSBC, and JPMorgan, which, comparatively, barely beat the average. Compared to its peers, DBS's wealth managers are miles more efficient at making money, given how many of them there are.

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The only slight problem is that... Well, DBS isn’t actually all that efficient. Tricumen says the bank is bang-on average for operating revenue generated for Asets Under Management (AUM). It's on par with Deutsche Bank or Bank of America in terms of revenue per dollar under management - banks that it outperforms in terms of revenue per employee. RBC is the top dog in terms of using assets efficiently, followed not that closely by Wells Fargo and Standard Chartered.

DBS' wealth management team has had a good 2023 - including the third quarter. Revenues for the division were up 22% on the previous year, which CEO Piyuesh Gupta put down to the bank's diversification both geographically and in terms of product offerings. Speaking in a call with analysts, he noted that whilst China had declined, India had grown by 20%, and that the bank was on track to double its book within three to four years.

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AUTHORZeno Toulon

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