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StanChart's digitalisation push nets more customers

Over 8,000 clients have used the bank's new personalised investment ideas tool since its launch last October

Mr Bhambri says the bank's strategy is to focus on wealth management business, "given the growing affluence in our region and the increasing appetite of our clients for protecting, investing and growing their wealth".


STANDARD Chartered Bank's digitalisation push is seeing results, with clients converting to transacting on a brand new platform and netting more customers to trade online.

The bank's strategy is to focus on the wealth management business, "given the growing affluence in our region and the increasing appetite of our clients for protecting, investing and growing their wealth", said Sumeet Bhambri, StanChart regional head, wealth management, Asean and South Asia.

The bank's wealth management business is growing at a healthy clip, he said in a recent interview.

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In Asean and South Asia, assets under management for the retail and private banking segments grew by 41 per cent and 25 per cent, respectively, in 2017 from a year ago.

In Q1 2018, wealth was one of the top contributors for StanChart's business in Asean and South Asia with a double-digit growth in income.

Wealth is one of the main income contributors to the Singapore business, which is no surprise given it is a key wealth management hub.

Singapore is also StanChart's second-biggest market, after Hong Kong. The wealth business contributes a third to the overall retail banking income in Singapore.

Wealth, the fastest growing product group in the bank, gained 20 per cent in 2017.

So it was natural that the bank picked Singapore to launch its new personalised investment ideas (PII) tool last October. Hong Kong should go "live" in the third quarter of 2018, said Mr Bhambri.

For priority clients, PII is a smart digital investment tool which generates suitable investment ideas for a client in just minutes, based on preset algorithm matrices. Priority clients have to place a minimum S$200,000 with the bank.

With the PII tool, relationship managers can help their clients prioritise buy, sell and hold investment ideas based on the client's risk appetite and existing investment holdings, added Mr Bhambri.

"In the past, this was done manually by the relationship managers - which was what you expected them to do - but now you've got an institutionalised tool which helps us institutionalise the whole advisory process," he said.

"Customers feel a lot more confident because what they get to see is this advice coming through a tool that is backed up by the rationale as to why the client should do what we are asking him to do."

Since the October launch, over 8,000 clients have used PII.

"Increasingly a larger percentage of our funds sales transactions are done using this tool," added Mr Bhambri. "So far, about 44 per cent of our total transactions are going through PII."

StanChart also revamped its seven-year-old online equity platform, considered one of the most competitive in the market but the technology then meant the offering was accessed only through a desktop.

Clients can trade on 15 exchanges in 10 markets, commission charges are 18 basis points for Singapore and 20 for other markets.

StanChart does not impose a minimum for online trading, and does not charge custody fees either.

The new completely rebuilt platform, relaunched last July, is now also accessible on mobile and tablet, with a consistent look and feel across all devices, said Mr Bhambri.

"It has significantly helped us improve interest from clients."

Since the launch, month-on-month, the average trading volume has risen by 40 per cent, he added.

The bank now has more than 80,000 customers, versus 72,000 before the revamp. Earlier this month, StanChart reported a 20 per cent rise in pretax profit to US$1.26 billion for Q1 2018.