Singapore’s largest banks have a better-than-expected Q2

Written by Kapronasia || August 09 2021

It would have been difficult for Singapore’s Big 3 banks – DBS, OCBC and UOB – to beat their performance in the first quarter. That holds especially true for DBS and OCBC, which both posted record earnings in the January-March period. So while all three banks saw earnings fall in the second quarter on a quarterly basis, they still turned in a solid performance that beat analysts’ expectations.

OCBC had the strongest second quarter of the Big 3, with profit rising 59% to S$1.16 billion, slightly ahead of  the forecast of S$1.14 billion of six analysts polled by Bloomberg. Driving the growth in profitability were strong banking and insurance performance, as well as an uptick in wealth management income grew strongly and private banking assets under management. Further, fee income increased to S$563 million from S$440 million a year ago.

With regards to wealth management, OCBC plans to grow that business in both Hong Kong and mainland China. "We have a good presence in Hong Kong and China, and we do want to actually strengthen that. That is very much because we do want to see the synergies between Greater China and Asean,” the bank’s chief executive officer Helen Wong said as the bank reported earnings. 

At the moment, it is DBS that has the edge in China, at least the Greater Bay Area market. DBS recently took a 13% stake in Shenzhen Rural Commercial Bank (SZRCR) for RMB 5.29 billion, the Singaporean lender’s largest acquisition in China to date. SZRCR has 5 million active retail customers as well as 170,000 active corporate customers.

In the second quarter, DBS’s profit rose 37% to S$1.7 billion, beating the S$1.47 billion average estimate of five analysts polled by Bloomberg. DBS chief executive officer Piyush Gupta said better-than-expected performance in all business segments helped negate the effect of lower interest rates. In the April to June period, DBS recorded growth in its loans business, as well as fee income from investment banking and wealth management.

"While risks remain, our pipeline remains healthy and we expect business momentum to be sustained in the coming quarters,” Gupta said in a statement. 

As for UOB, Singapore’s third-largest lender recorded a 43% increase in earnings to S$1 billion in the second quarter. That figure beat the S$948 million average of three analyst estimates, according to Refinitiv data.