If you want to work for UOB over the next few years, digital assets and sustainable finance may be the sectors to focus on.
Speaking at the bank’s Q3 results presentation, UOB chief executive Wee Ee Cheong said he increasingly sees opportunities in central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). “We believe CBDCs can help drive financial inclusion and boost economic growth. We are working with central banks so that customers can benefit from the use of CBDCs in the coming years,” he added.
UOB has also been building its asset tokenisation capabilities, including forming partnerships with digital asset platforms ADDX and Marketnode. Chief financial officer Lee Wai Fai added that he sees growing demand for digital assets, but said UOB is working with established third parties for the time being and is not setting up its own exchange.
UOB is not the only bank in Singapore with expansion plans in digital assets. Standard Chartered, for example, is building a digital-assets team in the Republic as it launches new initiatives powered by blockchain.
Wee’s presentation also highlighted UOB’s growing focus on sustainability. The bank is on track to reach by next year its initial goal to build a sustainable finance portfolio of $15bn by 2023. By the end of Q3 it had approved $14bn in sustainable financing. The prioritising of sustainability has already created jobs at UOB. In April the firm appointed Eric Lim into the newly created position of chief sustainability officer.
Other banks in Singapore are also hiring in sustainable finance and in environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) more broadly. Deutsche Bank, for example, is recruiting for an ESG centre of excellence in Singapore.
Meanwhile, UOB’s third-quarter net profit rose 57% to $1.05bn. As at rival OCBC, which also reported this week, UOB’s wealth management franchise has enjoyed a strong 2021. Assets under management increased 6% year-on-year for the first nine months. Like OCBC, UOB is also increasing its income from China-ASEAN trade. Cross-border income rose 6% in the year to end-August.
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