Bank of Singapore goes on hiring spree as it bets on ‘bullish Hong Kong’

The private banking arm of the second largest lender in Southeast Asia is also keen to expand its family office business in these four markets, citing the growing needs of wealthy families to help set up such offices to invest their wealth, plan succession and manage charities.

“We want to help families set up individual family offices and, at the same time, we would also like to provide an external investment services platform for multifamily offices,” Moo said.

The Hong Kong and Singapore governments offer a range of incentives, such as tax cuts and investment migration schemes, to lure wealthy families to set up in the competing cities.

The demand from family offices for such services was so big that both markets could thrive, Moo said, adding that the recent market rally has drawn the attention of clients who want to invest in the Hong Kong and mainland stock markets.

Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index has gained more than 16 percent since the China Securities Regulatory Commission, the mainland’s securities watchdog, last month unveiled five measures to support the city’s capital market and enhance cross-border trading.

“Some clients have started dipping their toes again in the market, buying stocks in Hong Kong and mainland China,” Moo said, suggesting to keep an eye out for companies in the artificial intelligence space.

Moo, who joined Bank of Singapore a year ago, is an industry veteran who has had stints at Goldman Sachs and Julius Baer previously.

He is targeting a combined headcount of 500 relationship managers in Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai by the end of 2025, from 450 now.

Bank of Singapore expects to leverage the three cities’ strengths for its expansion: Singapore’s closeness to Asean and India, Hong Kong as the gateway to the Greater Bay Area and China, and Dubai as the stepping stone into the Middle East.

“Previously, only a few international private bank clients put their assets in Asia as part of their diversification strategy,” Moo said. “Now, investing in Asia and the Middle East is part of their strategy to achieve high growth.”

Bank of Singapore, the private banking unit of Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp (OCBC), is expanding its family office business in Hong Kong, as it is bullish about its growth prospects in the city and mainland China.

It has increased its headcount, mainly relationship managers and senior bankers, by 15 percent in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan in the first four months of this year, CEO Jason Moo said. Assets under its management in these markets have risen by 10 percent between 2021 and 2023, he added.

“We have hired more bankers here as we have ambitious plans to grow in Hong Kong,” he said in an interview with the Post, citing the ongoing stock market rally as a factor. Apart from its home base Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai are the two other cities targeted for expansion, he added, noting these three cities are where “we will focus the most in the coming years”.

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