DBS Vickers powers ahead with digitalisation plans as Asia’s leading trading house

  • Aims to double trading volume across retail & institutional segments by 2025
  • Leverage strengths from bank’s core units via a collaborative ecosystem


DBS Vickers powers ahead with digitalisation plans as Asia’s leading trading houseDBS Vickers (DBSV), the brokerage arm of DBS Bank, continues to advance its ambition to become Asia’s leading digital trading house for funds, equities and structured notes with plans to double regional trading volume across its retail and institutional segments by 2025. 

The brokerage’s shift to digital has been in the making for the past several years, resulting in the introduction of several innovative solutions for its customers, including online customer onboarding and direct debiting/ crediting for trades done across 11 exchanges in core markets such as Singapore, Hong Kong, the US and Thailand. This, coupled with accelerated efforts to ramp up capacity expansion to accommodate higher trading volumes, enabled DBSV to continue providing a seamless trading experience for its customers during the pandemic.

Lionel Lim (pic), CEO of DBS Vickers, says, “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. 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. By providing a safe and fully integrated digital platform where our clients can access trading, investment advisory and wealth management solutions, we are able to create greater customer stickiness. This also gives us an added avenue to explore cross-sell opportunities to grow our franchise by providing value-added services from other parts of the bank through our platform.”

In testament to the success of DBSV’s digital trading platform, the monthly average of new accounts opened more than tripled in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period last year. Of this, more than 75% of accounts opened were multi-currency ones, enabling customers to undertake foreign exchange trades.


Counter-intuitively, travel restrictions have broadened investors’ reach

Internally, DBSV enhanced its digital infrastructure to facilitate nimble collaboration between trading desks and support units. Despite the spike in trading volumes amid a more volatile market environment, DBSV’s 1H2020 income almost doubled year-on-year, even as majority of employees worked from home.

Greater coordination between the various functions in the bank, including capital markets, treasury and markets, institutional banking and private banking, also strengthened the brokerage’s business resiliency amid the crisis by enabling successful deal distribution remotely. For instance, though travel restrictions were in force across the globe, DBSV continued to actively engage investors through virtual roadshows, and registered a 25% 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. In fact, we have been able to double the number of meetings with our clients from the US and 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,” explains Lim.

Looking ahead, DBSV sees opportunities in Asia’s burgeoning 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,” he adds.

Building on DBS Bank’s collaborative ecosystem

DBS Vickers will continue to build on efforts to unlock synergies across the various functions of DBS Bank to develop a well-oiled collaborative ecosystem. In particular, Lim shares that the collaborative approach with DBS’ capital markets group has been integral to the success of DBSV’s growth over the years. This has enabled the brokerage to act swiftly on business opportunities such as share buybacks and private placements, enhancing the value proposition it offers to customers.

“With strong backing from DBS’ capital markets group, we have been able to provide our institutional clients with unrivalled access to some of the largest IPOs and secondary placements, along with timely market information. 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.”

DBS’ capital markets group remains in pole position in Singapore’s equity space, leading all Main Board IPOs and participating in 93% of all equity funds raised on the Singapore Exchange in 2019.

Ultimately, stresses Lim, “The aim for DBS Vickers is to differentiate ourselves with a powerful digital offering, while strengthening our investor network for DBS’ equity capital markets business,” said Lim.

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