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DBS gives S$1,000 to each staff for SG50

When they heard the news about the S$1,000 hongbaos, some "employees fell off their chairs", said Mr Gupta.


DBS GROUP Holdings will give S$1,000 to each employee to celebrate SG50 and also for reaching S$50 billion in market capitalisation. The S$1,000 hongbao was announced on Tuesday after the bank released its full-year 2014 results.

For 2014, net profit - including one-time items - rose to a record S$4.05 billion, up 10 per cent from FY2013 and double that in 2009. Excluding one-time items, net profit rose 10 per cent to S$3.85 billion.

South-east Asia's largest bank will give S$18 million or S$1,000 to each of its 18,000 employees, said DBS chief executive Piyush Gupta on Wednesday. Those who will get the hongbao will be vice-presidents and below, he said. In Singapore, some 10,000 staff will get the money. DBS has in total 21,000 staff.

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When they heard the news, some "employees fell off their chairs", said Mr Gupta at a press conference to update on the bank's S$100 million SG50 programme.

"Some companies are obviously more linked to Singapore," he said on the bank's thinking on how to give back to society.

Corporations may no longer be content with doing what is right for their employees and making profit for their shareholders, he said. They must also "connect with society", said Mr Gupta. In the future, in Singapore and also other countries, the nature of jobs is going to be cottage industries, "which is how business started", he said.

Singapore has to be thoughtful of how to bring the bottom 20 per cent along, said Mr Gupta as he ruminated on the future where digitisation is dominant. Companies must "provide opportunity for more egalitarian growth", he said.

DBS' role is to support not just the small and medium enterprises but also the small startups which cannot attract capital, he said.

The startups which make S$3,000-4,000 can't scale up as the return on investment (ROI) is only 10 per cent. That's where DBS steps in and gives them a notional 5 per cent more in ROI, he said.

He also talked about a slew of customer initiatives such as National School Savings Campaign and Child Development Account, which includes a POSB Smiley Gift Bag for all Jubilee babies, costing S$10 million.

Last month, it relaunched the POSB National School Savings Campaign to encourage primary school students to cultivate the habit of saving. The iconic POSB Saving Stamps Programme launched in 1969 was hugely popular in the 1970s and 1980s, and at its peak had 100 per cent schools participation. The schools have already run out of stamps and have called us for more, said Mr Gupta.

Later this year, DBS will spend S$3.5 million on linking the 28th South-east Asia (SEA) Games with its annual dragon boat and sailing races.

Last year, DBS set up a S$50 million foundation to make a positive impact on communities in the region.

The foundation aims to spark social innovation by encouraging the development of groundbreaking social initiatives. By supporting social entrepreneurship, the foundation focuses on building a more inclusive society so that those at society's margins can enjoy productive and rewarding lives. For instance, one of its beneficiaries - Better Barista - employs youth and women at risks.

Last year, DBS also made a S$25 million donation to the soon-to-open National Gallery Singapore.