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Bank of Singapore seeks to expand its family office business

Bank of Singapore seeks to expand its family office business

SINGAPORE: Bank of Singapore, the private bank of Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp, is looking to expand its family office business as the city-state rolls out the red carpet for wealthy investors.

“We are seeing increasing demand for families moving into the next generation to set a proper structure in place to manage family wealth,” Chief Executive Officer Bahren Shaari said in an interview Thursday. “Singapore is promoting that, to let families use it as a base to manage their investment activities globally.”

Bank of Singapore’s expansion will heighten competition with European firms like UBS Group AG and Credit Suisse Group AG, who’ve long dominated this space. Singapore family offices had average assets under management of US$857 million in 2017,

The expansion will be spearheaded by Woon Shiu Lee, a managing director who currently looks after Bank of Singapore’s wealth planning and trust solutions, Shaari said. He said they’re hiring new bankers for the expansion but declined to disclose details. The new business will focus on rich families especially from China, Europe, and the Middle East, who are looking to invest in the Southeast Asian nation.

The Singapore government offers incentives including tax exemptions for funds managed by family offices for both offshore and onshore vehicles. That offers the advantage that the offices won’t pay Singapore tax on most of its investment gains, according to Shaari.

Bank of Singapore’s assets under management rose to US$100 billion in February, after increasing an average 21% each year over the past five years. The bank ranked seventh among Asia’s largest private banks in 2016, according to data compiled by Asian Private Banker.