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DBS Vickers remains resilient with digitalisation and collaborative efforts

DBS Vickers' (DBSV) early shift towards digitalisation and efforts to collaborate with various functions of DBS Bank has allowed the brokerage to remain resilient amid the pandemic. 

DBSV said in a press statement on Wednesday that its H1 2020 income almost doubled year on year despite a surge in trading volumes in a more volatile market environment. 

In addition, the monthly average of new accounts opened on DBSV’s digital trading platform more than tripled in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period last year. (see amendment note)

“Digital trading has become the new normal over the last few years and it is what customers have come to expect amid the Covid-19 pandemic," said Lionel Lim, chief executive officer of DBSV on Wednesday. 

Internally, DBSV enhanced its digital infrastructure to facilitate collaboration between trading desks and support units.

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"Digitalisation brings about not only greater speed and convenience, but also provides a way for us to share with our customers value-added offerings such as market insights through DBS Vicker’s online trading platform," said Mr Lim. 

Mr Lim added that the fully integrated digital platform where clients can access trading, investment advisory and wealth management solutions help "create greater customer stickiness".

By providing value-added services from other parts of the bank, it provides an added avenue for DBSV to explore cross-sell opportunities and grow its franchise, said Mr Lim. 

Meanwhile, successful deal distribution was able to take place remotely amid the virus outbreak due to greater coordination with various functions of the bank including capital markets, treasury and markets, institutional banking and private banking.

For instance, DBSV was able to engage investors through virtual roadshows despite travel restrictions. It registered a 25 per cent increase in investor roadshows year to date as compared with the same period last year. 

“Ironically, the travel restrictions have broadened our investors’ reach across the globe as more institutional clients accept virtual meetings as the new way of work," said Mr Lim. 

"In fact, we have been able to double the number of meetings with our clients from the US and the UK in the past few months compared to the same period last year. Time zones are also no longer an issue with technology, and we have been able to organise multiple meetings with different investors in various countries in just one day, enabling us to close the books for roadshows more efficiently," he explained. 

In particular, the collaborative approach with DBS’s capital markets group had been integral to DBSV’s growth over the years, allowing the brokerage to act swiftly on business opportunities such as share buybacks and private placements.

“With strong backing from DBS’s capital markets group, we have been able to provide our institutional clients with unrivalled access to some of the largest IPOs (initial public offerings) and secondary placements, along with timely market information," said Mr Lim.

"Conversely, we provide the extensive investor distribution network for the securities that are brought to market by DBS. This collaboration has undoubtedly helped us compete on the global stage and drive value for our clients," he added. 

DBSV also taps DBS's strong branding when it comes to targeting investors in core markets, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, the UK and the US.

Its overseas franchise, DBS Vickers Securities (Thailand), partnered DBS Private Bank last September to target Thailand’s growing pool of high net worth individuals who increasingly seek investment opportunities overseas. The partnership is expected to double the bank’s wealth assets under management in Thailand from S$4 billion to S$8 billion by 2023. 

“Ultimately, we see ourselves as enablers within the entire DBS ecosystem, bridging our extensive investor base to DBS Bank clients, while strengthening competencies to increase market share, as in the case of Thailand. The aim for DBS Vickers is to differentiate ourselves with a powerful digital offering, while strengthening our investor network for DBS’s equity capital markets business,” said Mr Lim.

DBSV also said it is looking towards other opportunities in Asia capital markets, and will be focusing on rolling out new digital products to tap rising interest in passive trading and expanding its online access to more markets globally.  

“We need to continually pivot to stay ahead of changes and ensure that we stay future-ready to address our clients’ needs amid a constantly evolving capital markets landscape. This will help set us apart as a leader in Asia’s capital markets,” said Mr Lim.

Amendment note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that more than 75 per cent of accounts opened were multi-currency ones, enabling customers to undertake foreign exchange trades. DBSV has since corrected its statement, to clarify that all customer accounts onboarded to its digital trading platform have already been multi-currency-enabled since 2017. 

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