“I see many more standing at the back”, Mr Piyush Gupta quipped as he addressed a full house of some 280 Singaporeans at the Distinguished Business Leaders (DBL) Series in London on 3 November 2012.
CEO of DBS Holdings and DBS Bank, Mr Gupta has been helming DBS for the past three years, during which time the bank has seen consistent strong growth. Under his leadership, DBS’ net profit hit a record high and crossed S$3 billion in 2011. This was a historic first for Singapore’s banking industry and makes DBS only the second Singapore-listed company to achieve that.
Believing in Asia and Leveraging off Singapore
Themed “Believing in Asia and Leveraging off Singapore”, Mr Gupta spoke on Asia as a region brimming with opportunities with Singapore being in the centre of the action in Asia, and DBS’ positioning as the Asian bank of choice for the ‘new’ Asia. Mr Gupta highlighted the tremendous growth opportunity in Asia where GDP was expected to be 17 percent more than the US in 2020. The Asian region, including China, India and ASEAN would be the key growth drivers.
Singling out four key drivers of growth for Asia, they were the increasing domestic consumption in Asia, an urbanising Asia driving infrastructure investment needs thus increasing investments, increasing exports with the integration of Asia leading to growing intra-Asia trade and lastly, fast penetration and rapid adoption of new technologies, with Asia expected to leapfrog digitally. Mr Gupta added that Singapore was a good experimental bed for new technologies as it allowed for quick success transfers to the rest of Asia.
Opportunities in Singapore’s financial services
Back home, Mr Gupta saw huge growth opportunities specifically in wealth management, capital markets, financial markets and technology & innovation. In wealth management for example, Mr Gupta shared that Singapore was sealing its position as a leading regional wealth hub. Assets under management in Singapore were at some US$1.03 trillion at the end of 2011, an 11 percent growth over five years. There was exponential growth in the number of wealth managers in Singapore, with many commercial banks expanding their operations in Singapore and boutique banks establishing or expanding their presence. As to updates on the financial markets in Singapore, Mr Gupta said that Singapore had positioned itself as a global foreign exchange trading / OTC interest rate derivates centre and a leading physical and financial commodities hub - battling London for the Number Two spot. An increasing number of commodities houses were also moving into Singapore or setting up regional hubs.
DBS’ vision for the future
Believing that the future of banking was an interactive one, DBS has launched new initiatives to place power in the hands of consumers. Mr Gupta highlighted DBS’ growing presence in three key Asian axes of growth - Greater China, Southeast Asia and South Asia. He shared that DBS’ strategy was to build an Asia-centric commercial bank which differentiated itself by adopting an Asian style of banking. Declaring “This is Asia’s Time”, Mr Gupta’s sharing was received with applause and appreciation from the home crowd.
Questions came in fast and furious
Attendees at the DBL Series were eager to engage Mr Gupta and hear his views on a myriad of issues. Questions ranged from whether DBS was considering expansion beyond Asia, how DBS would leverage on the planned integration of ASEAN stock markets, and its work-life programmes for its staff. Some also sought Mr Gupta’s views on current regulatory changes and their impact on banks. The questions were endless even as the talk gave way to a dinner of Asian delights.
Many also took the opportunity to network with newfound friends and catch up with old ones. On that note, the DBL Series in London ended with hearty chatter, warm stomachs and much of Mr Gupta’s nuggets of wisdom to mull over.
By Linda Wee