Final Word 2019: Sim S Lim, DBS Bank

Sim S Lim, group head, wealth management and consumer banking, DBS Bank shares his views with Asian Private Banker in ‘The Final Word’, a year in review by the region’s private banking leaders as they share their thoughts and opinions on key issues around industry trends, business performance, investments, regulations, and technology.

Industry Trends | What is the single biggest challenge and the single biggest growth opportunity for your business today?

We’ve invested significantly in digitalising our business and enhancing client experiences, and are proud to have made good progress — take DBS iWealth for example, which was accorded global no. 1 for wealth apps by Cutter Research in 2018. However, the pace of change in the private banking industry remains relentless and we cannot rest on our laurels. In order to stay relevant in an era where the divide between winners and losers is becoming increasingly stark, it is imperative that we adapt to, and stay ahead of, the new world order.

We are challenging ourselves to achieve hyper-personalisation, such that we ‘bank for one’. This refers to understanding each and every client as an individual, being cognisant of their preferences and providing personalised propositions. It is the ability to anticipate their needs before they do and help address them, such that the bank is seamlessly integrated in their daily lives.

This is no easy feat and will take time, but we are committed to the journey. We continue to invest in digital transformation and innovation, and will refine, iterate, and improve our capabilities as we work towards achieving this goal.

The single biggest growth opportunity is Asia, a region that is abound with potential. We’re on the cusp of a significant intergenerational wealth transfer, with an estimated US$2.7 trillion slated to change hands in the coming 10 to 20 years. Many of our clients are from the founding generation and as they age, they’re becoming more concerned about handing over the reins to their heirs, as well as preserving the family’s wealth and legacy for future generations. Against this backdrop, we expect to see tremendous interest and opportunity in areas such as trusts, legacy, and governance for the next decade or more.

Investments | What are the key investment themes that your private banking will focus on in 2020?

For 2020, we maintain a constructive stance on risk assets. The recent rebound in US Treasury yields connotes higher investor confidence in the economy, which augurs well for the outlook of the S&P 500. On a cross-asset basis, global bonds remain significantly more expensive than equities, which encapsulate better risk-reward.

Our Chief Investment Office continues to advocate a barbell investment strategy, which entails building overweight positions in two areas — stable income-generating assets on one end, and secular growth themes on the other. For the former, we are positive on Singapore REITs, Chinese banks, and Europe energy companies for their high dividend yield. For the latter, we favour winners of the ageing, digitalisation, and sustainability trends, which include thematic sectors such as technology, automation, and millennial consumption.

Technology | If we can agree that effective private banking relies on banks having a deep understanding of client needs and behaviours, how are you leveraging tech and data to deepen this understanding?

Data’s true value lies in its potential to become actionable intelligence, and that’s where technology comes into play. Through the likes of artificial intelligence and machine learning, we are able to convert data into information, then knowledge and, ultimately, wisdom.
DBS Private Bank strongly values client relationships, and having a good understanding of our clients’ wants, needs, and interests has always been fundamental to us. Data and technology hold the potential to push us further up the curve — when effectively harnessed, they can provide us with a more informed understanding of our clients, enabling us to provide the right client with the right insights, the right solutions and the right proposal, all at the right time.


Meet 2019’s industry leaders in the full round up of of Asian Private Banker‘s The Final Word 2019.

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