February 7, 2018 / 10:24 AM / 13 days ago

UPDATE 1-Bank of Singapore eyes more private bankers in Dubai as assets jump

(Updates to add 2018 outlook, staff numbers)

By Tom Arnold

DUBAI, Feb 7 (Reuters) - The private banking arm of Singapore’s second-biggest lender, OCBC, aims to add around 25 relationship managers to its Dubai office by 2020 as it targets more business from non-resident Indians and wealthy Middle East clients, a senior executive told Reuters.

Bank of Singapore’s assets under management have risen by around 30 percent in Dubai since launching in the Dubai International Financial Centre a year ago, said Vikram Malhotra, the bank’s global market head for South Asia and Middle East. The bank expects assets under management in Dubai to grow by more than 20 percent in 2018, he said.

“The non-resident Indian business is doing well for us, but there are opportunities to expand more in the GCC market,” he said in an interview, referring to the six countries which comprise the Gulf Cooperation Council.

“We are one of the larger players in the region and our aspiration is to be in the top three within all our markets. We are well placed to achieve that.”

The bank has close to 50 relationship managers in Dubai, up by around a 40 percent since 2016, and is targeting further growth by 2020. In Singapore and Hong Kong, the bank had around 45 relationship managers under his care, he said.

In total, the bank has more than 350 relationship managers in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Private wealth in the Middle East and North Africa is projected to reach $12 trillion by 2021, according to research from Boston Consulting Group.

Several international banks compete with local lenders for a slice of the private banking market.

Malhotra, who splits his time between Asia and the Middle East, joined Bank of Singapore from Barclays Wealth after the former acquired its Singapore and Hong Kong unit in November 2016.

Bank of Singapore’s assets under management stood at $95 billion as of September 2017, up 53 percent from a year earlier.

Many of its core clients in the region are non-resident Indians who have lived in the Middle East and Africa for decades, in some cases. It also has a smaller number of Middle Eastern clients, including wealthy families.

It is targeting attracting more clients from Africa, Malhotra said, declining to name specific countries.

OCBC’s private banking arm has had a presence in Dubai since 1996 through a representative office based outside the DIFC, the emirate’s financial free zone.

Reporting by Tom Arnold; editing by Jason Neely

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