OCBC added headcount, boosted bonus pools, and invested in wealth management and technology as its Q3 profit increased 19% to S$1.22bn.
Operating expenses rose 8%, largely attributed to a “rise in headcount to support business growth, compensation associated with increased business volumes, as well as lower government job support grants as compared to a year ago”, according to the bank’s Q3 financial results. The firm did not provide a headcount number for Q3; these are only published in its half and full-year reports. It employed 30,619 people as at end-June.
Group CEO Helen Wong hinted at more hiring to come: “We continue to enhance our capabilities through investing in our people, accelerating digitalisation and expanding our regional presence.”
Much of that investment is likely to be in wealth management. OCBC wants to “strengthen” its private banking capabilities across Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, and London, which suggests more hiring is on the cards at its Bank of Singapore (BoS) unit. As at 30 September, assets under management at BoS expanded 6% from a year ago to US$123bn, “driven by continued inflows of net new money and positive market valuations”. Total wealth income across OCBC – from insurance, premier and private banking, asset management and stockbroking – hit a record high for the first nine months and made up 35% of the group’s income for Q3.
OCBC has tied up with Ping An Bank to provide wealth management services across China’s Greater Bay Area under the new Wealth Management Connect scheme. OCBC announced earlier this year that it is doubling the number of relationship managers for wealthy Chinese clients to 500 by 2023, both in its main operations and in BoS.
Across its businesses, including wealth, Singapore’s second largest bank is moving towards a “twin hub regional model” for Singapore and Hong Kong as it aims to tap investment flows between ASEAN and Greater China. OCBC wants to “enhance Greater China transaction banking and investment banking to support inbound and outbound clients”, according to Wong’s CEO presentation, which highlighted future priorities. This focus on “regional coverage” is again likely to generate hiring as OCBC aims to strengthen its “talent pipeline and management bench strength”.
More hiring in technology is also likely. Wong said OCBC is accelerating its digital transformation, fast-tracking the modernisation of its tech stack, scaling up an agile delivery model, and introducing a data-driven culture.
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