RETAIL BANKING | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Incoming OCBC CEO to deepen bank presence in China: analyst

Helen Wong faces expectations of improving group profits and optimizing capital levels.

Helen Wong’s ascension as group CEO of Oversea-China Banking Corporation (OCBC) will see the bank further deepen its presence in China, especially in the Greater Bay Area, according to Jefferies Equity Research.

Wong, who will be succeeding Samuel Tsien on 15 April, has close to three decades of banking experience in Greater China, having worked for both OCBC and HSBC. She will be the first female CEO of OCBC Group and the first woman to head a Singapore bank.

Given her extensive experience and relationships in China, Jefferies analyst Krishna Guha expects the incoming CEO to further deepen the group's presence in China—especially in Greater Bay—and related cross-border business through “organic and inorganic means.”

Guha further noted that it will be interesting to see if the increased focus in this market is accompanied by any shift in the current mix of geographies, operating businesses and industry focus of the group.

“So far, in our view, the group has given fair amount of autonomy to the operating subsidiaries in the region,” said Guha.

Wong faces meeting the expectation of redefining group strategy and operating model, as well as improving group profitability and thinking around optimization of capital levels.

As of 2019, OCBC both recorded the highest CET1 of 14.9% and lowest RoE of 11.4% compared to local peers.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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