Ranjit Khanna, Head of Private Banking, Europe & Middle East and Chief Executive of DIFC Branch, Bank of Singapore Image Credit: Supplied

Bank of Singapore, which recently celebrated its seventh year of operations in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), is in an exciting new phase.

Ranjit Khanna, Head of Private Banking, Europe & Middle East and Chief Executive of the bank’s DIFC branch, noted that a reorganisation and recent investments in senior local talent have firmly positioned the DIFC branch as a hub for wealth in the Middle East and Europe.

Globally, Bank of Singapore embarked upon a revised strategy built upon a three-hub global approach, explains Khanna. These hubs are its three major financial centres – Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai.

“Our clientele today is global, and we serve them from seven different locations around the world with Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai being our key hubs,” says Khanna. “They are the future of wealth and are three of the world’s fastest-growing wealth regions in the world.”

He further explains that the Singapore hub covers the ASEAN region, the Hong Kong Hub serves Greater China, and Dubai is the hub for the bank’s Middle East and Europe markets.

“The UAE and the Middle East region have been important to Bank of Singapore’s strategic growth and will continue to be so as we continue to strengthen the bank’s global footprint,” says Khanna.

He notes that Bank of Singapore is in a good position for the UAE and the Middle East to connect into Singapore and to ride on the growth opportunities in Asia, which include exclusive direct investments into leading and cutting-edge companies across industries.

“For those here, the bank’s ties to the global wealth management industry, especially in ASEAN and Greater China, make us a solid choice for ultra-high net worth individuals and family offices.”

Singapore-Dubai connection

As someone working in a Singapore-headquartered global bank, Khanna is proud to carry the Singapore name and be the flagbearer of the Singapore wealth management industry in Dubai.

“I must say I feel fortunate to have two homes: Singapore and Dubai. I grew up in Dubai, where my father was a banker in the region, and also started my journey in wealth management here, way back in 1994,” says Khanna.

“Since then, I have been privileged to work and live multiple times in both Singapore and Dubai. Many of my family and friends are situated in both places,” he reveals.

With his personal history, it is no surprise that he oftens find himself reflecting on some striking similarities of Singapore and Dubai that make them attractive as wealth management centres.

In Khanna’s view, both Singapore and Dubai are strategically positioned between East and West, making them attractive for international investors seeking access to both regions. They boast solid economic fundamentals, political stability, and robust legal systems, and have strong appeal for high and ultra-high net-worth individuals and families seeking to secure their wealth. They are also buoyant in a volatile climate and are poised for growth.

Khanna notes that according to the Boston Consulting Group’s Global Wealth Report 2023, global wealth at the end of 2022 shrunk by 4 per cent. During this same period, wealth across the Middle East region grew by 8 per cent.

Bank of Singapore has an important part to play in such an expansive time.

The next phase

The bank’s presence in the Middle East goes back over 20 years. The bank opened its representative office in Dubai in 1996, before the DIFC office was set up in 2004. Today, the bank’s DIFC branch is an office of over 130 staff, having almost tripled the number of staff in the past seven years.

Along with the bank’s dedicated investment in local talent in the DIFC branch, it has also invested in technology and infrastructure to achieve strong business growth and solidify the branch’s position as one of the leading banks in the market.

The bank is focused on the aspiration to build a sustainable and compliant business in this region over the next three to five years, aligned with Dubai’s broader Economic Agenda (also known as D33), which aims to double the size of Dubai’s economy by 2033.

As a wealth management business, Bank of Singapore constantly strives to advise its clients based on asset allocation perspective. To this end, the bank ensures regular training programmes across its ranks are conducted and that it instils a strong environment of positive culture and conduct – what the bank considers to be non-negotiables in the field of private banking, says Khanna.

Bank of Singapore’s clients can also expect a comprehensive suite of financial solutions (from corporate and commercial banking to treasury to insurance) through the OCBC Group’s strong network across ASEAN and Greater China, notes Khanna.

“We bring our clients a value-driven difference because our approach has always been a client-centric one, guided by each individual client’s needs and interests,” he says.

“As custodians of wealth and partners in our clients’ ambitions, we stand ready to serve, educate and advise our clients in a volatile wealth landscape. Most importantly, we want to assist them in leaving a powerful legacy for every generation.”