UOB exec rejoins bank after 20 months out, lands big promotion

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A UOB executive in Singapore has returned to the firm about 20 months after leaving to take up a top job at Western Union Business Solutions.

Aaron Chia has been appointed as the new head of UOB’s ‘digital plus’ unit for wealth and lifestyle products. He is now “leading a team of digital product owners” (and partnering with UOB’s technology delivery teams) across platforms such as Mighty FX, the exchange rate app, according to his online profile.

Chia’s new department-head job is a significant step up from his previous role at UOB – vice president, digital connectivity, group channels and digitalisation – which he left in February 2017 to join Western Union as head of FX and digital solutions.

But his return to UOB is perhaps not surprising in the current job market. People with leadership and project management experience in digital banking are in high demand in Singapore, say technology recruiters. DBS, OCBC and Citi are among the other banks bulking up in digital banking as they launch new platforms in areas such as payments and wealth management, and try to fend off competition from startups such as GrabPay.

UOB’s own ongoing tech hiring drive, which we reported on last year, includes project managers as well as engineers, digital designers, architects, and data scientists. The bank employs more than 4,500 people within group technology and operations, the department led by Susan Hwee.

Chia’s role at Western Union saw him heading the firm’s digital management team in “digitalising customer-base and delivery processes” and leading its customer managers to “drive revenue growth in domestic and FX cross-border payments, credit services, and hedging solutions”.

Mechanical engineering graduate Chia started his career not as a digital banking manager but as an FX trader. He worked for boutique firm COT Trading from 2008 to 2011 and then joined UOB. Chia spent six years at the Singaporean bank, starting up its FX payment and treasury desk before taking on his digital connectivity role in 2015.

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