Southeast Asia’s largest bank as measured by assets, Singapore’s DBS, has confirmed a report that it is planning to quadruple the size of its London wealth management office, opened just last year with a staff of three, as it aims to accommodate high net worth Asian investors in the UK, post-Brexit.
A bank spokesperson confirmed to International Investment this morning that DBS is “targeting a total headcount of six” in its London office by the end of this year, and hopes to double that next year.
The London team, which currently works out of offices near St Paul’s Cathedral, reports to Rob Ioannou, head of International at DBS Private Bank.
The spokesperson was responding to questions raised by a report in the Financial Times that said DBS was planning to expand its London wealth management presence “in a post-Brexit endorsement of the UK as a destination for rich Asian investors”.
The FT quoted Tan Su Shan, head of wealth management at DBS, as praising the “long term prospects of London”, as well as its relative value, which has increased recently as a result of the weaker UK currency.
As reported, DBS unveiled its London office to accommodate ultra-high-net-worth private clients and family offices last July, less than a month after the UK voted to leave the European Union on 23 June. At the time, DBS chief executive Piyush Gupta defended London’s future as a key financial centre.
According to Tan, the DBS offering in London is being expanded to include more UK-based asset management services, in response to what is seen as the current attractiveness to Asian investors of the UK as an investment market.
Assets booked from Asian investors would “not be booked in the UK but in Singapore or Hong Kong”, the FT report notes.
It also quotes Tan as acknowledging that DBS, like other Singapore and Southeast Asian financial institutions, had seen outflows as a result of Indonesia’s major tax amnesty programme, which, as reported, ended in March.
Indonesian officials have said that that money held in Singapore accounted for 57% of the total funds repatriated, and for about three quarters of total assets declared under the amnesty.
DBS was established in 1968 as the Development Bank of Singapore, and is often described as having played a key role in the city-state’s evolution after its independence. It changed its name to DBS in 2003.