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DBS Group and iFast Corp divide the spoils

The Edge Singapore
The Edge Singapore • 4 min read
DBS Group and iFast Corp divide the spoils
DBS reported record earnings for FY2022 and having paid $2 per share in dividends for FY2022, is guiding to pay $1.68 on an annual basis / Photo: DBS
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BANKING & INVESTMENT SERVICES + INSURANCE + FINTECH & INFRASTRUCTURE

DBS Group Holdings is a company that requires no introduction to anyone in Singapore. The country’s largest bank provides the full range of banking and financial services from the largest multinational corporations requiring complicated financing needs to the eager-beaver primary school child opening a savings account in a bid to understand how money works. From its home market of Singapore, DBS has built a presence in about 20 markets, as it maintains “AA–” and “Aa1” credit ratings, which are among the highest in the world.

In FY2022 ended December 2022, DBS reported record earnings of $8.19 billion, up 20% over the preceding year. This achievement, plus earnings growth from the two preceding years, helped the bank win the growth in the profit after tax (PAT) category among its sector peers at this year’s Billion Dollar Club (BDC). It took home the overall sector winner title as well.

According to DBS, earnings were propelled by tailwinds from a rising interest rate environment, with net interest margin increasing after three years of decline, influenced by higher rates set up by the US Federal Reserve Board to tackle the big problem of inflation. Even though it has become costlier to borrow, DBS was still able to grow its loan book on constant currency terms by 4% in FY2022.

DBS has made sure it continues to reward its shareholders. With record earnings and a strong capital base, DBS paid a total FY2022 dividend of $2 per share, which includes a 50-cent special dividend. Barring unforeseen circumstances, the annualised dividend going forward will be $1.68 per share.

See also: The Edge Singapore unveils winners of 2023 Billion Dollar Club

DBS says its “solid financial performance” is the result of the “structural shifts” made over the past decade, ranging from the buildout of higher return business lines or the pervasive digital transformation that began in 2014.

iFast Corp has been a regular winner at the BDC over the years. This year, it topped the returns to shareholders and weighted return on equity (ROE) categories. iFast, which was set up in 2000 and listed in December 2014, is famous for being among the earliest financial institutions to make use of online channels to reach out and sell to consumers. Specifically, it did so with the hugely popular online unit trust platform, Fundsupermart. com more than 20 years ago.

Since then, the company steadily expanded its offerings to many other asset classes and product ranges, reshaping itself as a comprehensive wealth management platform with assets under administration (AUA) of $18.81 billion as at June 30.

See also: Celebrating the top listed companies in Singapore

iFast offers access to over 18,000 investment products including over 12,000 funds from over 310 fund houses, over 2,000 bonds, stocks and ETFs listed on the Singapore, Hong Kong, US, Malaysia, and China A stock exchanges, as well as services including online discretionary portfolio management services, research and investment seminars, fintech solutions, and investment administration and transaction services.

While iFast previously tried to win a Singapore digital bank licence but did not succeed, that has not stopped the company from securing the right to do so elsewhere, specifically in the UK.

At times, iFast grew by other means too. On Aug 31, it announced it is taking over the investment and insurance business from MoneyOwl, a financial advisory company which is set to wind down by Dec 31. As part of the process, MoneyOwl will transfer its investment and insurance business to iFast Financial, which is already the current custodian of MoneyOwl clients’ investment accounts.

Lim Chung Chun, iFast’s chairman and CEO, says his company is committed to providing the best support to MoneyOwl’s clients and ensuring a seamless transition. “iFast will be able to provide the convenience of a digital trading platform, coupled with advice across various product types from licensed wealth advisers and we believe this will support the clients’ wealth management and protection needs,” he says. 

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