Bank of Singapore is upbeat on its Middle East prospects

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Bank of Singapore is upbeat on its prospects in the Middle East after getting off to a strong start to the year, a top executive at the institution said Thursday.

The private banking arm of OCBC, Singapore’s second-largest lender by total assets, saw its assets under management in Dubai grow about 30 percent from its launch in the city’s financial center last year, according to Reuters.

“I firmly believe and I’m very optimistic about the prospects of the region,” Vikram Malhotra, Bank of Singapore’s global market head for South Asia and the Middle East, told CNBC’s Sri Jegarajah.

The bank moved to its premises in Dubai International Financial Centre in 2016 and currently has more than one hundred employees based in the city.

Private financial wealth in the Middle East and Africa is estimated to grow 8.1 percent by the end of 2021 to $12 trillion, according to a global wealth report from the Boston Consulting Group last year. That growth figure is only surpassed by the 9.9 percent increase projected for the Asia Pacific region.

Malhotra also weighed in on competition for clients in the region, as well as a greater focus on regulation, amid greater focus on regulations.

“I think that’s pretty much industry-specific. All the global banks are present in Dubai and are investing and growing in the region. Having said that, I think we have grown much faster than our competitors,” he said.

“Of course, regulatory expectations are much higher today and everybody is investing in that regard as well,” Malhotra said. Less than half of the roughly 30 employees joining Bank of Singapore’s Dubai branch last year were bankers as it focused on growing its support staff, he added.

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