private banking singapore

In recent years, Singapore has witnessed an unprecedented surge in the establishment of single-family offices, reflecting its growing appeal among affluent investors. This trend is exemplified by the significant increase in single-family offices, which skyrocketed from 400 in 2020 to an impressive 1,100 by the end of the last year.

Swiss private bank Union Bancaire Privée (UBP) is a prime example of an institution harnessing this momentum. Recognizing the burgeoning wealth in the region, UBP has proactively expanded its wealth management team to serve the increasing number of affluent clients better. 

“UBP wants to continue to grow clients in both North and Southeast Asia regions,” Michael Blake, head of Wealth Management & CEO of UBP, said in an interview with Reuters. This strategic move aligns with the overall growth of the private banking sector in Singapore, where a combination of favorable policies and a stable economic environment continues to attract wealthy individuals and families.

Overview of Private Banking in Singapore

Singapore as a Financial Hub

Singapore has become a leading international financial hub, serving the needs of not only local economic activity but also almost the entire Asian region. This success is underpinned by its stable political situation, favorable tax regime, and strict legislation against financial crime. In a report by Time Magazine, it is noted that several of the world’s preeminent investment management firms, such as Marshall Wace, Citadel Enterprise Americas led by Griffin, and D.E. Shaw, have significantly expanded their operations in Singapore, reflecting the city-state’s growing prominence in the global financial landscape.

Additionally, according to estimates from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the count of family offices — specialized firms that oversee both the wealth and personal affairs of affluent families — saw a substantial increase to 1,100 by the end of last year, up from merely 400 in 2020, highlighting significant growth in this sector.

To maintain its position as a financial hub, Singapore continually invests in infrastructure, technology, and talent. This strategic focus has led to the strong development of diverse financial services, including private banking for high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs).

Distinctive Features of Private Banks

When you consider private banking in Singapore, it’s important to understand its distinctive features:

  • Catering to high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs): Private banks serve clients with significant assets, usually in the millions of dollars. This clientele demands personalized services and solutions to manage their wealth.
  • Offering personalized services: Unlike priority banking services, private banks provide a higher level of service customization. Your dedicated relationship manager will tailor investment strategies, advice, and financial solutions based on your specific needs and preferences.
  • A broader range of products and services: As a high-net-worth individual, you can access a more extensive range of investment products and services than typical retail banking customers. This includes access to exclusive investment opportunities, diversified global portfolios, and sophisticated wealth management products.
  • Technological innovation: Singapore’s private banking sector is at the forefront of incorporating technological innovations. Attractive banking services, fintech solutions, and cutting-edge wealth management tools are increasingly being adopted.

By catering to the unique needs of HNWIs, private banks in Singapore thrive in the competitive financial landscape. Lured by its status as a premier financial hub, more and more high-net-worth individuals are entrusting their wealth to Singapore’s burgeoning private banking sector.

Key Characteristics of Private Banking

1. Services Offered

Private banking in Singapore offers a wide range of services tailored to the needs of high-net-worth individuals. These services include:

  • Personalized Relationship Management: Clients are typically assigned dedicated relationship managers who understand their individual financial needs and preferences.
  • Investment Management: Experienced professionals manage their client’s portfolios, taking into consideration their risk appetite and long-term goals. 
  • Wealth Management Services: Help you preserve and grow your wealth through diversification and strategic financial planning. 
  • Asset Management: Private banks offer comprehensive asset management services, including managing portfolios of stocks, bonds, and other securities. 
  • Banking and Credit Solutions: Private banks offer a range of exclusive banking services, such as high-limit credit cards, bespoke mortgage solutions, and specialized lending services tailored to the unique needs of HNWIs.
  • Estate and Trust Services: These services involve assisting clients in structuring their assets in a way that manages and protects wealth for future generations, often including the setup and management of trusts.
  • Concierge and Lifestyle Services: This can include travel arrangements, exclusive event access, and other personalized services that enhance the client’s lifestyle.

2. Client Requirements

To become a client of private banking in Singapore, you typically need to maintain a minimum asset requirement, which usually starts from $1 million. As a private banking client, it is crucial to focus on investment diversification in order to manage and grow your wealth. For example, DBS Private Bank has a minimum AUM of S$5 million. 

3. Eligibility and Application Process

Regarding eligibility for private banking, banks usually require you to demonstrate a certain level of financial capacity, such as a minimum net worth or asset under management level. Eligibility criteria may also include your country of residence, your profession, or income level.

Here’s a general overview of the process:

1. Initial Contact and Eligibility Assessment: The process typically begins with an initial contact, which can be initiated by the client or through a referral. The bank will first assess if the potential client meets the eligibility criteria for private banking, which usually includes a minimum level of investable assets. This threshold varies between banks but is typically substantial, as private banking services are aimed at high-net-worth individuals.

2. Know Your Customer (KYC) and Compliance Checks: As part of the regulatory requirements, the bank will conduct a thorough Know Your Customer (KYC) process. This involves gathering detailed information about the client’s identity, financial background, source of wealth, and investment objectives. The bank will also perform anti-money laundering (AML) checks and assess any potential compliance risks.

3. Financial Needs Analysis and Risk Assessment: The bank will conduct a detailed analysis of the client’s financial situation, goals, and risk tolerance. This assessment is crucial for tailoring the private banking’s investment services to the client’s specific needs and for ensuring that the recommendations made are suitable and appropriate.

4. Documentation and Account Opening: Then, the client will need to provide the necessary documentation to open an account. This documentation typically includes proof of identity, proof of address, financial statements, and possibly references.

5. Assignment of a Relationship Manager: After the account is opened, the client is assigned a relationship manager. This individual acts as the main point of contact between the client and the bank, providing personalized service and advice.

Best 8 Private Banks in Singapore

uob logo

1. UOB Private Bank

Notable for its investment approach, UOB Private Bank offers asset management and exclusive banking suites tailored to high-net-worth individuals. Dedicated relationship managers provide personalized advice to cater to your unique financial goals and needs. In a strategic move to rejuvenate its brand, there have been advancements in UOB private banking division, focusing on a commitment to assist and grow with the affluent community within the region.

In a report by The Business Times, Mr Chew Mun Yew, Head of UOB Private Wealth, said, “In the last 12 months, we have strengthened our management team with significant hires for the front as well as across the middle and back office.”

Minimum Investable Assets to Join: S$5 million in investable assets

Perks:

  • Investment Advisory
  • Discretionary portfolio management
  • Family Office
  • Investment solutions
  • Credit solutions
  • Next-gen programme
dbs bank logo

2. DBS Private Bank

DBS Private Banking is distinguished for its tailored services, high credit ratings, and comprehensive banking solutions. This bank offers a wide array of banking and wealth management services, focusing on understanding your individual objectives and providing personalized advice.

The brand of DBS, with its headquarters in Singapore, has been gaining increased recognition. Five years ago, it was not as widely recognized as it is in the present day. Carol Wu, Executive Director of Treasures Private Client at DBS Private Bank said in an interview with WealthBriefingAsia: “We have a lot of focus, and we are seeing the results. We spent a lot of effort to upskill our bankers to be more advisory-focused.”

Minimum Investable Assets to Join: S$5 million in investable assets

Perks:

  • Gain insights from DBS’ Chief Investment Office for more informed decision-making
  • Benefit from tailored investment strategies, and comprehensive market analysis. 
  • Enjoy personalized investment advisory services. 
  • Utilize the DBS digibank wealth app for convenient monitoring and management of your portfolio.
ocbc logo

3. OCBC Premier Private Client

OCBC Premier Private Client is recognized for lower investment requirements and a team of financial experts dedicated to empowering you to achieve your financial aspirations. This private banking service offers comprehensive wealth management solutions, leveraging a wide range of instruments and investment strategies.

OCBC Bank’s Sunny Quek, head of consumer financial services in Singapore, said in a report by The Business Times. “Our customers have gone beyond banking. They’re looking for a banking relationship that is built on trust through personalized financial advice and access to exclusive experiences.”

Minimum Investable Assets to Join: S$1 million in investable assets

Perks:

  • Access investments that are not available to retail investors
  • Tailored solutions for your needs as an Accredited Investor
  • Bespoke wealth solutions, including alternative funds, structured investments, legacy planning
  • Receive up to S$39,000 when you start a Premiere Private Client relationship with S$1 million in fresh funds
hsbc singapore

4. HSBC Private Bank

HSBC Private Banking offers family wealth management, global investment opportunities, and a bespoke service model. This bank’s commitment to personalized service, combined with its worldwide reach, allows it to cater to effective and comprehensive solutions for high net worth clients.

In an interview with The Business Times, Mary Chan, head of wealth planning and advisory in Southeast Asia said: “Nowadays, individuals and families are more diversified in assets and residencies, which is why an experienced professional advisor with a global presence like HSBC Global Private Banking is effective in handling their needs.”

Minimum Investable Assets to Join: S$5 million of investable assets

Perks:

  • Dedicated Relationship Managers to provide personalized advice and support
  • Access to investment opportunities across diverse asset classes
  • Tailored wealth planning and advisory services
  • Products and services focused on preserving and growing wealth across generations
standard chartered

5. Standard Chartered Priority Private

Standard Chartered Priority Private is known for its travel privileges, preferential rates, and investment services. As a client, you’ll enjoy exclusive access to tailored global investment opportunities and personalized financial advice. Relationship managers and financial advisors work together to help you manage your wealth effectively.

According to Singapore Business Review, Standard Chartered Priority Private branch features an exclusive lounge designed for private conversations, complete with luxurious amenities such as champagne, tea, and French pastries. Additionally, there are meeting rooms available where family members of private banking clients can unwind and relax while the clients are engaged in meetings with their relationship managers.

Minimum Investable Assets to Join: S$1.5 million of investable assets

Perks:

  • Senior relationship management team offering bespoke solutions
  • Personalized wealth solutions
  • Exclusive privileges and rewards, such as priority private concierge, airport limousine transfers, unlimited priority pass access, and more.
citibank private banking logo

6. Citibank Private Banking

Citibank Private Banking focuses on serving wealthy global individuals with a wide network and customized services. This bank combines cutting-edge technology with personalized financial advice to help you grow, protect, and preserve your wealth. They build enduring relationships with their clients to understand their unique financial objectives.

Clients tap Citi for investment advice, and some may also want to do good in Singapore and get involved in charitable organizations, said Mr Lee Lung-Nien, chairman and head of South Asia at a media briefing for the launch of its Ultima Mastercard credit card.

Minimum Investable Assets to Join: S$13.5 million of investable assets

Perks:

  • Customized private banking that crossed borders
  • Global investment opportunities
  • Discretionary portfolios spanning equity, fixed income, and multi-asset class
  • Customized home financing
  • Art advisory and finance
jp morgan logo

7. J.P. Morgan Private Banking

J.P. Morgan Private Banking is distinguished for its long history, comprehensive financial planning, and world-class advisors. Its commitment to innovation and excellence in wealth management ensures you receive the highest level of service and access to the best that the global financial market has to offer.

Minimum Investable Assets to Join: S$10 million of investable assets

Perks:

  • Wealth Planning and Advice
  • Managed Portfolio Strategies
  • Sustainable Investing
  • Brokerage
  • Banking and Lending Services
credit suisse

8. Credit Suisse Private Banking

Credit Suisse Private Banking offers a comprehensive suite of financial solutions with a significant presence in the Asia Pacific region. This bank’s extensive investment knowledge and vast network enable it to serve the sophisticated needs of high-net-worth individuals. As a client, you’ll have access to tailored financial advice and a range of wealth management solutions.

Minimum Investable Assets to Join: S$2 million of investable assets

Perks:

  • Exclusive network of influential personalities
  • Expertise in financial markets
  • Access to tailored financial advice
  • Wealth Management solutions

Comparative Analysis

BankMinimum Investable AssetsSpecialized Services
UOB Private BankS$5 millionInvestment approachAsset managementExclusive banking suites; Personalized adviceNext-gen programme
DBS Private BankS$5 millionTailored servicesHigh credit ratingsComprehensive banking solutionsPersonalized investment advisory
OCBC Premier Private ClientS$1 millionLower investment requirementsComprehensive wealth management solutionsTailored solutions for Accredited Investors
HSBC Private BankS$5 millionFamily wealth managementGlobal investment opportunitiesBespoke service modelDedicated Relationship Managers
Standard Chartered Priority PrivateS$1.5 millionTravel privileges; Preferential ratesInvestment servicesExclusive loungePersonalized wealth solutions
Citibank Private BankingS$13.5 millionGlobal networkCutting-edge technologyPersonalized financial adviceArt advisory and finance
J.P. Morgan Private BankingS$10 millionComprehensive financial planningWorld-class advisorsManaged Portfolio StrategiesSustainable Investing
Credit Suisse Private BankingS$2 millionComprehensive suite of financial solutionsExtensive investment knowledgeTailored financial adviceWealth Management solutions

Private Banks in Singapore offer a diverse range of services and investment thresholds catering to high-net-worth individuals. Banks like Citibank Private Banking and J.P. Morgan Private Banking requires higher minimum investable assets (S$13.5 million and S$10 million, respectively), reflecting their focus on very affluent clients and offering global investment opportunities and sophisticated wealth management solutions. 

In contrast, OCBC Premier Private Client and Standard Chartered Priority Private have lower entry thresholds (S$1 million and S$1.5 million), making them more accessible to a broader range of affluent clients, with OCBC emphasizing comprehensive wealth management and Standard Chartered offering unique perks like travel privileges and exclusive lounges. 

UOB Private Bank and DBS Private Bank, both with a S$5 million threshold, balance personalized investment approaches with comprehensive banking solutions, indicating a strong commitment to tailored wealth management in the Singaporean market.

Conclusion

In Singapore’s private banking landscape, various top-notch banks offer tailored financial solutions and expert wealth management for high-net-worth individuals. The sector has a strong focus on family office advisory services, and the Monetary Authority of Singapore has implemented inspections to ensure proper sales and advisory practices.

Key Takeaways

  • Private banking in Singapore is an essential pillar for wealth growth, with a range of banks providing exceptional services to suit your financial needs.
  • Consider the minimum requirements for private banking services, as some may require an investment of at least $5 million.
  • Stay informed about the emerging risk landscape in private banking, which is crucial for making smart decisions about your wealth management.

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