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FINANCIAL SERVICES | Staff Reporter, Singapore
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Maybank to deepen Singapore presence with new locally incorporated subsidiary

It will house its private wealth, retail SME, retail banking, and commercial banking units.

Dr John Lee, the country CEO and chief executive officer of Maybank Singapore, is responsible for the overall operations and growth of the bank in Singapore, which is one of Maybank Group’s three home markets. Dr Lee talks about the bank’s achievements in 2018, the significant transformation it will undergo, and its plans to strengthen its position in Singapore.

What were the bank’s wins in 2018?
For 2018, we wanted to focus on innovation, effective risk management, and greater sense of purpose. In the wealth management space, our Maybank Private is celebrating its fifth year of establishment. Innovation was our key differentiator in these five years. In this regard, Maybank Singapore clinched a number of recognitions for its initiative of providing convenient cross-border financing solutions to Maybank Private and Maybank Premier clients across the region.

To capture a larger market share of emerging affluent clients, Maybank Singapore launched the Privilege Wealth segment this year to serve clients who hold between S$50,000 and S$300,000 worth of assets with the bank. Maybank Privilege customers enjoy dedicated services tailored to their needs, including priority banking services, access to comprehensive financial solutions, and invitations to exclusive lifestyle events.

As part of our initiative to appeal to the younger crowd as well as attract new wealth customers, we will be opening a new concept store named MSpace@Maybank at Orchard Road, which we intend to use to experiment with new ideas to engage our customers.

In 2018, we made risk management one of our competitive advantages. Through deepening our data analytics, we obtained better insights into the risks we were taking, the portfolio we had, and our customers’ risks. We are also facilitating the increasing internationalisation of Chinese companies, who are expanding their business in Asean. Maybank is the only bank with a 10-Asean country banking network that can facilitate cross-border financing across the entire Asean market. We are using these risk insights to achieve a more optimal balance sheet.

As part of being a better corporate citizen and having a greater sense of purpose for our organisation, we embed CSR into our day-to-day business. Our mission of “Humanising Financial Services” is about maximising the return to the community and society. Maybank’s commitment to making a positive impact in the community through philanthropic efforts and staff volunteerism has also been recognised on a national level.

The end of 2018 will be a significant period for us. We are going to transfer our retail banking, private wealth, retail SME, and commercial banking business in Singapore to a new locally incorporated subsidiary, Maybank Singapore Limited. This move is not only a fulfilment of regulatory requirement to locally incorporate our retail operations because we are one of the Domestic Systemically Important Banks (D-SIBs) in Singapore, but is also an important part of our strategy to deepen our presence and commitment to the local community.

How do you see the bank as an effective digitalised bank?
Maybank Singapore’s digital roadmap planned is aligned with Maybank Group’s digital roadmap. Besides the usual digitalisation of transaction activities, our digital plan is also focussed on our people and customer relationships.

It is important for us to find new ways of engaging our customers effectively in this digital era. To this end, we are exploring and experimenting with new engagement models and approaches. In other words, we want to be more than just a banking services provider—we also cater to our customers’ lifestyle and life journeys.

We intend to evolve our workforce to be better prepared for digitalisation, not just technically, but more importantly, instil a mindset change. Aligned with the Singapore government’s aim to reskill the entire financial services workforce, Maybank Singapore is joining initiatives under the Institute of Banking and Finance Singapore to train up a future-ready workforce, so that our staff’s skill sets remain relevant and the bank retains our competitive edge.

In addition to our business, our digital roadmap also focusses on our community. We have introduced a crowdfunding platform, Maybank Heart (www.maybankheart.com), to our staff and general public to support various CSR initiatives. As it is, we see digitalisation not just from a business perspective, but also from a broader responsible corporate perspective.

What are your goals in the next 3 to 5 years?
Maybank Singapore is focussed on creating value through maintaining sound risk management practices, building a diversified portfolio, improving business efficiency, and enhancing digital capabilities to better serve our customers.

To further strengthen our position as a major financial services provider in Singapore, we will be focussing on the following: continuing to strengthen our domestic franchise business in Singapore; spearheading the Group’s regional aspiration by growing our regional business in Singapore; establishing and strengthening the centre of excellence for wealth management and infrastructure financing; championing our mission of “Humanising Financial Services” by creating a superior customer value proposition as well as sustaining strong relationships with all customers and stakeholders; and focussing on evolving employees’ skill sets and leveraging digital innovations so that the bank can be a more digitally-orientated organisation. 

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