2016

Leading the way in Singapore and the region

August 2016 | Forbes Asia

UOB Private Bank is an integral part of UOB, which is one of Asia’s leading banks with a global network of more than 500 global branches and offices. It boasts a presence in 19 countries and territories in Asia Pacific, Europe and North America and is rated with an ‘Aa1’ from Moody’s and ‘AA-’ from Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings.

UOB Private Bank is dedicated to managing the wealth of its ultra-high net-worth clients, and preserving their wealth for future generations. It offers customised advisory and solutions that draw on the Bank’s full suite of personal, business and investment services as part of its one-bank approach. “Through business cycles, we have grown with and stood by our clients by harnessing the strengths of our fundamentals,” said Ms Ong Yeng Fang, Head of UOB Private Bank. “Our Asian heritage and Southeast Asian roots give us an established and integrated network, a deep pool of talent and experience, a strong balance sheet, and robust risk management.” “At every point in addressing our clients’ business or personal needs, we want to provide them with the right solution. This requires an unwavering focus on ensuring we deliver an extensive and suitable suite of products and services, with necessary due diligence,” Ong said. Ong noted that it is important that her team not only possesses the right skills, but also the right mindset and values that will build and maintain the trust they earn from clients.” We must constantly strive for excellence, and harness relevant technology to continuously improve client experience and adapt to their changing needs,” she added.

Three critical pillars

UOB Private Bank cites three key pillars for its success: People, Investment Solutions, and Processes & Systems. UOB Private Bank hires senior practitioners to fill key functions to build up a strong management core. This helps support business strategy and growth. Client-facing employees participate in tailored programmes to help them customize best investment strategies for clients. And the bank’s suite of extended product offerings provides an open architecture investment platform that gives best quality sales and advisory processes to suit clients’ long-term needs. “As we progress on these fronts, our priority is to enhance our infrastructure, streamline business and front-to-back processes, as well as leverage technology to improve operational efficiency and productivity,” said Ong. “Our ultimate aim is to deliver a client experience that is consistently unique to our private bank.”

UOB Private Bank is also upgrading its core operating system, automating risk management capabilities and rolling out a new client engagement tool. This provides a 360-degree view of clients’ profiles and investment positions anytime, anywhere, to facilitate discussion between bankers and their clients. As a result of its client-focused commitment, UOB Private Bank was named Best Private Bank in Southeast Asia at the recent WealthBriefingAsia Singapore awards. “This award inspires us further to deliver the highest level of service to our clients as we help them to protect and grow their wealth for generations to come,” said Ong.

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UOB crowned Best Private Bank in Southeast Asia at the WealthBriefingAsia Awards 2016

July 2016

UOB received top honours at the WealthBriefingAsia Singapore Awards 2016, which recognises the most outstanding individuals and firms in financial services. UOB Private Bank (UOBPB) was named Best Private Bank in Southeast Asia. The awards ceremony took place on 9 June 2016.

Commenting on UOBPB’s win, the judges said it was “a hard fought category, but recognised UOB had the numbers that support this contention”. The judges said they were also impressed by the way UOBPB’s success is “relationship driven, and guided by a management rooted in traditional family office values and vision”.

“We are delighted to win this prestigious award and it is a great honour indeed. This is testament to the unity, commitment and hard work of our team over the past two years. This award inspires us even more to deliver the highest level of service to our clients as we help them to protect and grow their wealth for generations to come,” said Ms Ong Yeng Fang, Head of UOB Private Bank.

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A Journey of Transformation

20 July 2016 | The Business Times | Who’s Who in Private Banking

Re-invigorating its business and people

UOB Private Bank is dedicated to managing the wealth of its ultra-high-net-worth clients, and preserving their wealth for generations to come. It offers dedicated advisory and customised solutions that draw on the Bank’s full suite of personal, business and investment services as part of its one-bank approach. Its success lies in its sound investment strategies, the rigour of its market analysis, the calibre of its people and the industry knowledge of its client advisers.

“At every point in addressing our clients’ financial needs, whether for their personal or business matters, we want to provide them with the right solution. This requires first and foremost, an unwavering focus on ensuring we deliver an extensive and suitable suite of products and services, with necessary due diligence conducted,” said Ms Ong Yeng Fang, Head of UOB Private Bank. “Second, it is important that our people not only have the right skills, but also the right mindset and uphold the values that will build and maintain the trust we have earned from our clients,” she added. Ms Ong said that her aim is to enhance processes internally so that the Bank’s client advisers can ultimately provide a higher level of service to clients. Many of them are first-generation Asian entrepreneurs who are now focused on succession planning as they hand over the reins of their businesses to the next generation.” We must constantly strive for excellence, and harness relevant technology to continuously improve client experience and adapt to their changing needs,” said Ms Ong. With these firmly in mind, UOB Private Bank accelerated its transformation journey internally, centred on its clients first, and client advisers.

Three Critical Pillars

This transformation focused on three critical pillars - People, Investment Solutions, and Processes and Systems. The past two years were focused on strengthening its management team and expanding its products and solutions offering. UOB Private Bank hired senior practitioners to fill key functions and built up a strong management core to support its business strategy and growth. The number of client advisers also increased by 48 per cent from a year ago. Client-facing employees participated in tailored programmes to equip them in better customising investment strategies for clients. Its suite of product offerings was extended to provide an open architecture investment platform, with its enhanced sales and advisory process guided by a long-term view of clients’ needs. “As we progress on these fronts, our priority this year is to enhance our infrastructure and business processes, streamlining front-to-back processes, and leveraging technology to improve operational efficiency and productivity. Our ultimate aim is to deliver a client experience that is consistently unique to UOB,” said Ms Ong. The Bank is upgrading its core system, automating risk management capabilities, and rolling out a client engagement tool that provides a 360-degree view of clients’ profiles and investments, along with relevant news, anytime and anywhere. This will ease communication between its client advisers and clients. Ms Ong is heartened that this transformation has not gone unnoticed. UOB Private Bank was named Best Private Bank in Southeast Asia recently at the Wealth Briefing Asia Singapore awards. “This award inspires us even more to deliver the highest level of service to our clients as we help them to protect and grow their wealth for generations to come,” she said.

A strong and stable bank

With Singapore as its home, UOB Private Bank benefits from its strategic location as a regional trade and commerce hub. UOB wealth management’s assets under management, which includes that of the private bank, grew to S$85 billion at the end of 2015, up 77 per cent from five years ago. UOB is a leading bank in Asia with a global network of more than 500 branches and offices in 19 countries and territories in Asia Pacific, Europe and North America. UOB is rated among the world’s top banks: ‘Aa1’ by Moody’s and ‘AA-’ by Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings.

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Building a Talented Team for Growth

24 February 2016 | The Business Times | Who’s Who in Private Banking

UOB started offering banking services to the merchant community since 1935. That entrepreneurial spirit, focus on long-term value creation and unwavering commitment to do what is right for its customers have been carried through generations of UOB employees. After all, what matters most in any strategy is having the capability and the right people to execute it.

“Banking is a people business. We need people with the right skillsets and importantly,the right values to help us build a sustainable franchise,” said Ong Yeng Fang, Managing Director, Head of UOB Private Bank. Hardworking, disciplined and passionate about her work, she epitomises the private banker that she expects her colleagues to be. “I’ve always emphasised to my people to never be complacent and to never stop looking for ways to improve,” she said. “It is very important to have fire in the belly. This is how I work and expect that of people working with me.” Committed to developing her team, she prides herself as a hands-on private banking head. “I have an open-door policy as they know that I am here to make a positive difference and am quick to sign-off on solutions to improve our processes,” she said.

A strong core management team

18 months ago, UOB Private Bank brought in a new management team helmed by Ms Ong to step up its operations. Her first hire was its Chief Investment Officer as well as Head of Investment, Product and Solutions, Neo Teng Hwee. Dr Neo has more than 20 years of experience including regional management roles in investments and money management, as well as asset management focusing on sovereign wealth funds. Under Dr Neo, two teams, one a team of specialists in fixed income and derivatives and another, a team to manage discretionary mandates for customers, were also recruited. Another key hire is Executive Director, Head of Risk Management, Alex Sim, who also oversees the middle office function, which covers a broad range of front-to-back functions, such as client on-boarding, trade support, credit monitoring and business change. Mr Sim has over 15 years of experience in managing risk, compliance and business change functions across wealth management. Other hires include regional market heads who are veteran private bankers with over 30 years of private banking experience, and a business management head in charge of business planning and administration, front-to-back project management as well as training. Not to mention also the existing employees who have in a large part, invested in the foundation of the private bank through their hard work and dedication. “With a team like that, we are using their areas of expertise to build for the future. As we drive the private bank’s vision together, each of them is a strong team player with a proven track record of being committed to the performance of client portfolios and placing the interests of customers as top priority,” Ms Ong said. Under this team, UOB Private Bank doubled its number of Senior Client Advisors from 50 in 2014 to 100 today and total private wealth employees have grown to around 300, underscoring its commitment to the local private banking talent pipeline. Ms Ong said she aims to develop a harmonious culture at the Bank such that there is a natural sense of camaraderie and team work. She urges her employees not to be caught up with their own portfolios but to also look out for one another. “I often tell them to institutionalise the mindset of teamwork across the whole platform.” What is ultimately rewarding for Ms Ong is that she is seeing results from her focus on hiring the right people. “UOB Private Bank is increasing its customer base, providing the banking services customers are looking for, while growing its profits,” said Ms Ong, who has been approached by private bankers in the industry who are excited by the developments taking place. UOB’s wealth management assets under management, which includes that of the private bank business, grew by 77 per cent to S$85 billion between 2010 and 2015. Today, the private bank is in a position to expand, in no small part due to its success in recruiting the right team for the job.

A strong and stable bank

UOB is among the world’s highest-rated banks, with an Aa1 rating from Moody’s and AA - from Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings. With Singapore as its home, the Bank has grown to more than 500 offices in 19 countries and territories in Asia Pacific, Western Europe and North America. UOB’s considered approach in managing its business has largely contributed to its success in navigating challenging economic cycles, while delivering shareholder value. “Especially with what’s happening in the markets now, customers want a strong and safe bank that they can bank with. For private bankers, UOB provides stability in management and an environment where they can be groomed to be well-rounded bankers. And all this has not gone unnoticed by people in the industry,” said Ms Ong. She said UOB continues to focus on the core fundamentals – ensuring balance sheet strength and building capabilities for the future.

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2015

Laying the foundations to build Asia’s top boutique private bank

22 July 2015 | The Business Times | Who’s Who in Private Banking

All about values

Ask UOB Private Bank managing director Ong Yeng Fang what defines the private bank and she will say without hesitation that it boils down to the key principles of trust, honesty and integrity.

“These are values that all our relationship managers are expected to have,” Ms Ong said. “These values and trusted relationships are among the key reasons why many long-time clients have stayed and even the next-generation chooses to carry on the tradition of banking with UOB.”

Given the challenging macroeconomic environment and increased scrutiny of financial institutions, trust in a bank now rides higher on a client’s priority list.

“There has been realisation that a bank’s stability and longevity cannot be taken for granted,” Ms Ong said. “Clients want to place their funds with a trusted bank not just for their own comfort and security, but for that of the next generation and beyond. We know that this makes UOB the partner of choice for many clients,’

“We stand for long-term thinking, trust and reliability. We have the tools and the people to cater to the needs of high net worth clients. This is aligned with their interests in looking to create and preserve wealth for generations to come.”

Sharpening the focus on solutions and talent

With 10 years of private banking and 17 years of corporate banking experience, Ms Ong took the reins at UOB Private Bank last year. Since joining, she has set strategic directions for the private bank.

The commitment of the bank’s management to build Asia’s top boutique private bank has been tremendous, she notes.

With a new chief investment officer onboard, UOB Private Bank has been expanding its range of investment solutions. This has also strengthened the investment advice and execution by its relationship managers in line with the house views on macroeconomic issues.

UOB Private Bank’s open architecture also allows the bank to source for financial solutions from both its in-house global markets team and external institutions, with the key objective of creating the best solutions for clients.

“With increasing demand for comprehensive services, client expectations go beyond the expertise of the financial market and they look more towards our client advisors to provide bespoke financing solutions for a variety of non-financial assets, whether it is hotel acquisitions or business acquisitions on a personal front, “ Ms Ong said.

Managing risks effectively remains fundamental as the bank expands. As such, the risk management function has been strengthened with the addition of a new head of risk, whose responsibilities include integrating and enhancing current risk practices across the bank.

With the expansion, UOB Private Bank’s team of relationship managers has increased by 50 per cent from the year before. Ms Ong stressed that the bank was expanding but not at the expense of quality. Despite active recruitment efforts in the past one year, interview success rates at UOB Private Bank stand at 25 per cent of the crème de la crème.

“When I look for people to come onboard, I look for people with character, a great attitude and the passion to do their best work for clients and the bank. This combination is not easy to find,” Ms Ong said.

There is also a focus on developing talent within UOB Private Bank. Besides regular lunch and learn sessions for relationship managers, UOB has worked with the Singapore Management University (SMU) to develop a flagship Advanced Diploma Programme in Private Banking that is Financial Industry Competency Standards (FICS) accredited.

Taking a one-bank approach

With an expanded solutions platform and continuous training for employees, UOB Private Bank is looking to strengthen its “one-bank” approach, ramping up cross-selling across its divisions.

While every private bank talks about cross-selling, Ms Ong notes that it is easier said than done. However, UOB has been able to do so successfully and is further institutionalising this cross-selling process because of the bank’s strengths in retail and wholesale banking.

For instance, given UOB’s strength in mortgage financing, several mortgage clients have been converted to private bank clients. Likewise, many of UOB’s private bank clients use the bank’s corporate and commercial financing solutions to support their business activities.

“We have seen very good referral flows not just locally but also across Southeast Asia.” Ms Ong says. “We are institutionalising this process and been very successful in our key markets of Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. Whether it's personal mortgage loans, corporate loans, trade financing or private banking advisory services, our clients are happy with the one bank approach.”

UOB Group’s assets under management grew from S$48 billion to S$80 billion between 2010 and 2014. As a Group, wealth management’s contribution to retail also grew from 24 per cent in 2010 to 47 per cent in 2014.

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