UOB strengthens core markets even as regional retail franchise doubles in size
UOB is focused on a balanced business approach for scaling up strong, organic new-customer and profit growth as it enlarges regional retail franchise
2023 will be a busy year for UOB as it consolidates its newly-expanded regional consumer banking business, having recently acquired Citi Bank’s retail franchises in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
This doubles the bank’s regional customer base to about 5.3 million and its total number of customers to about 7.5 million, including Singapore and the rest of the world, and accelerating its regional expansion by about five years.
We caught up with Jacquelyn Tan, head of group personal financial services, on her priorities as she seeks to integrate the new regional business.
Tan shared: “The goal is clear. Even with a larger regional franchise, the bank is focused on ensuring its home—Singapore—and other mature markets remain strong. It emphasises a balanced business approach that keeps the ‘shape’ of the balance sheet.”
The business must be centred on keeping a balance between deposits, funding and assets; secured and unsecured lending; interest and fee income; and in wealth management, between protection, funds and treasury products. UOB hopes this will help the bank to grow sustainably and withstand changes in business and market cycles over time.
Tan explained: “Organically, the retail bank will continue to grow 800,000 to 900,000 new customers every year and achieve double-digit income and profit growth. The outcome will be there if the business is balanced, and we continue to maintain our historically low cost-to-income ratio.”
A new regional technology and operating platform is being put in place, an initiative that was launched before the Citi acquisition.
Tan said: “It is a no-regret build—with or without the Citi acquisition, we needed a new regional platform to compete.”
UOB is also sharpening its customer-value proposition through regional ecosystem partnerships with strategically aligned or like-minded brands such as Singapore Airlines, the MICHELIN Guide and Club 21 Singapore (part of the Como Group) stable of lifestyle brands that serve the same customer segments.
Encapsulating both, Tan said the bank has also rolled out a new brand campaign anchored on personalisation enabled by data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) and supported by integrated omnichannel service delivery.
Tan reported that the bank has built and tested about 200 AI models that saw, on average, a three-time lift in response, which directly accounted for about SGD 55 million ($41 million) in revenue. The models are deployed in wealth management, from onboarding clients to assigning relationship managers, delivering investment and market content, portfolio and asset allocation advisories and lifestyle offers.
Keywords: Consumer Banking, Wealth Management
Institution: UOB, Citi
Region: Southeast Asia
Guest: Jacquelyn Tan