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OCBC to invest HK$1.5 bil into tech and facilities across Greater China, hire 300 software engineers in China

Jovi Ho
Jovi Ho • 6 min read
OCBC to invest HK$1.5 bil into tech and facilities across Greater China, hire 300 software engineers in China
From left: Bank of Singapore's Rickie Chan; OCBC group CEO Helen Wong; and Wang Ke, head of Greater China and CEO of OCBC Hong Kong. Photo: OCBC
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Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) will spend some HK$1.5 billion ($260 million) to upgrade its technology and facilities across Greater China by 2026, as part of an “accelerated” push to improve customer and staff experience with updated platforms, products and facilities. 

Of this sum, close to HK$1 billion will go towards modernising OCBC Hong Kong’s technology platform. By 2026, the bank aims to standardise 90% of its channels, services, products and infrastructure, among others. 

The remaining HK$500 million will go into workplace upgrading for OCBC’s third major site in Hong Kong, says Wang Ke, head of Greater China and CEO of OCBC Hong Kong. “We are signing a new lease for an office… to provide [a] better working environment for our staff and it is also more convenient for them to commute.” 

The bank will also hire some 300 software engineers in China over the next three years to support the group’s digital transformation. OCBC’s new hiring target is up 75% over its talent pool of some 400 software engineers as at end-2023, which are largely based in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.

OCBC group CEO Helen Wong unveiled these plans at a May 29 briefing in Hong Kong. Speaking to analysts and media, Wong says Greater China is a key contributor to the group and has grown “significantly” at a CAGR of 24% over the past decade. In FY2023, Greater China contributed 21% of OCBC’s $8.4 billion in group profit before tax. 

According to Wong, OCBC’s Greater China franchise revenue in Asean grew 39% y-o-y in 2023. Over the past decade, OCBC saw 10% CAGR growth in customer loans in Greater China. OCBC’s Premier Banking customer count in Greater China grew 30% y-o-y between 2022 and 2023. 

See also: From 2023: OCBC to invest more than $50 mil into banking Greater China, targets $3 bil incremental revenue by 2025

OCBC’s clients are also served by more than 50 dedicated regional Asean-Greater China wholesale relationship managers, supported by a network of over 400 branches in offices across Greater China and Asean. 

Greater China

See also: From 2023: OCBC eyes fund flows from foreigners relocating to Singapore

Wang succeeded former OCBC Hong Kong CEO Ivy Au-Yeung in December 2023. He was appointed OCBC’s Greater China head in November 2023. 

Prior to his appointment as CEO of OCBC Hong Kong, Wang was CEO of OCBC Wing Hang China — now OCBC China — from December 2019 to October 2023. 

OCBC China was renamed in November 2023, while OCBC Wing Hang Hong Kong was renamed OCBC Hong Kong in July 2023 at the bank’s branding and strategy refresh.

Wang says the bank serves more than 200,000 retail customers in Hong Kong. OCBC Macau, meanwhile, serves more than 20% of Macau’s population. “Our Macau business is roughly one-third the size of Hong Kong; it’s quite meaningful.”

Wang says wholesale banking in OCBC Hong Kong delivered double-digit growth over the past five years. During this period, OCBC Hong Kong grew loans at more than 10% CAGR, deposits at more than 15% CAGR and income at more than 20% CAGR.

OCBC Hong Kong’s continued investments into transaction banking capabilities have supported corporates looking to expand into Greater China and Asean, with 30% growth in related deposits last year, says Wang in his presentation. 

The bank is also making strides in acquiring affluent customers, with a 47% y-o-y rise in the number of Premier Banking customers in Hong Kong. OCBC Hong Kong’s Premier Banking assets under management (AUM) also grew 29% y-o-y. 

See also: Great Eastern’s 20th anniversary puzzler

According to Wang, OCBC Hong Kong currently employs more than 2,400 staff, while OCBC Macau has more than 450 staff. As of 2023, OCBC Hong Kong has assets of some HK$363 billion, while OCBC Macau has assets of some HK$32 billion. 

BOS Hong Kong’s ‘ambitious’ AUM goal

Rickie Chan, CEO of Bank of Singapore (BOS) Hong Kong branch, closed off the May 29 presentation by announcing a target to grow AUM by 50% by 2026, compared to end-2023 figures. 

Chan, who is also BOS's head of private banking for Greater China, acknowledged that this target is “ambitious”. While BOS does not disclose its AUM by market, Chan says Greater China is the private bank’s “second-biggest market” after Asean. 

OCBC group wealth management AUM, which includes BOS’s AUM, ended the year at some $263 billion. At last July’s briefing in Hong Kong. BOS global CEO Jason Moo said he aims to increase global AUM to US$145 billion by end-2025, having tripled its AUM in the decade between 2013 and 2022 to US$124 billion. 

The AUM figure is volatile due to asset prices, says Chan, and it was at some US$116 billion “the last time [he] looked at it”. 

Chan joined BOS in February and has over 28 years of experience in private banking, wealth management and capital markets. He was formerly Credit Suisse’s CEO of its Hong Kong branch and its head of global wealth management for Greater China.

Chan’s move to BOS came about a year after global CEO Jason Moo joined from Julius Baer. The two had worked together at Goldman Sachs, and their tenures overlapped between 1998 and 2012. 

BOS is growing “at the right time, at the right place [and] with the right strategy”, says Chan, citing a 2023 report by Boston Consulting Group that forecast Hong Kong will be the world’s largest booking centre by end-2027. 

The private bank will need a larger force to capture these new funds. Last July, Moo said he will grow BOS’s team of RMs from some 400 then to 500 by end-2025. According to Chan, BOS ended April at “close to 450” RMs. 

BOS grew its total number of relationship managers (RMs) by 15% between January and April, “and the pace of the growth will likely continue for the balance of the year”, says Chan to The Edge Singapore. However, he declined to provide the RM strength of BOS Hong Kong. 

“One of our core pillars, started by Jason, is to develop and further expand [our] dedicated unit to support family offices and our EAM [external asset manager] business,” says Chan. “This is ongoing and we are putting a lot of resources in, given the demand in both areas.”

If a family office is considering between Hong Kong and Singapore, how would BOS advise them? Chan says he has seen “quite a few cases” where clients set up family offices in both cities. 

“I want to emphasise that it’s not a zero-sum game between the two cities, and both cities can thrive together and it can be very complementary,” says Chan. “If Hong Kong does better, Singapore will do better. If Singapore does better, Hong Kong will catch up.”

Last July, OCBC unveiled a target of $3 billion in cumulative incremental revenue between 2023 and 2025. In FY2023 ended Dec 31, 2023, the bank achieved the first part of this three-year target by logging $500 million in incremental revenue. The bank’s leaders are confident that it can log $1 million in incremental revenue by end-FY2024 and the remaining $1.5 million by end-FY2025. 

In May, OCBC posted net profit of $1.98 billion for 1QFY2024 ended March 31, 22% higher q-o-q and 5% higher y-o-y. Along with the release of its 1QFY2024 results, OCBC also announced a $1.4 billion privatisation bid for Great Eastern Holdings G07 -

.

Shares in OCBC closed 11 cents lower, or 0.80% down, at $14.39 on May 29. 

Photos: OCBC

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