DBS is getting more generous with its base pay. “We were originally planning not to do salary hikes this year, but the market situation and conditions compelled us to take salary actions in the middle of the year,” CEO Piyush Gupta said at the bank’s Q3 results presentation.
Staff costs at Singapore’s largest bank rose 12% year-on-year in Q3. Like other banks, DBS has increased salaries as the Singapore job market rebounds in the face of chronic talent shortages, especially in technology.
DBS can afford to be generous. The firm beat analyst estimates with a 31% rise in third quarter net profit, helped by improving fee income and asset quality.
Income increased 17% at DBS for the first nine months to a record S$3.103m as wealth managers and investment bankers eyed up the prospect of bigger bonuses.
In wealth management, fee income hit S$1,406m in the year to end-September, a 23% increase. Third-quarter wealth income was the second highest on record, and assets under management (AUM) rose 13% year-on year.
The good Q3 results of all three Singapore banks were driven by the strong showing of their wealth management franchises. OCBC and UOB both reported AUM increases and have singled out wealth management for expansion.
Although making up a small part of DBS’s overall business, investment banking fee income jumped 48% to S$154m. Traders may also be feeling optimistic about their bonuses – DBS noted “record trading income” for the nine months.
Transaction service fees grew 13% for the nine months and reached a new quarterly high of S$239m for Q3 “from increases in cash management and trade finance”.
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