Sunday,14 July 2024

Cathay United Bank’s Singapore nexus fuels regional ambitions

5 min read

Interviewed By Foo Boon Ping

As Southeast Asia’s economic clout continues its inexorable rise, Cathay United Bank (CUB) is turbocharging its Singapore operations, establishing the city-state as a strategic regional nexus to capture burgeoning growth opportunities across the region.

Under the leadership of Winfield Wong, CEO of CUB’s Singapore branch, the Taiwan-based lender is sharpening its focus on leveraging the city-state as a springboard for innovation, best practice and knowledge sharing, as well as facilitating seamless cross-border business flows.

“Singapore is the cornerstone here. We have high growth ambitions driven by client-centric and forward-looking solutions,” asserts Wong. “Singapore is at the forefront of many developments—financial crime risk mitigation, regulatory knowledge-building, product innovation. We continually pilot new offerings here leveraging the conducive ecosystem.”

CUB’s Singapore hub plays an indispensable role as “a centre whereby there’s a good exchange of intelligence and information” between the local branch and Taiwan headquarters, according to the Wong. He highlights the tangible upsides of tapping into Singapore’s deep reservoirs of subject matter experts and best practices across areas like compliance, outsourcing, digitalisation, and business continuity planning.

The branch serves as a pivotal two-way conduit facilitating cross-border expansion for CUB’s diverse clientele. “We become a very good conduit—inbound clients coming from across ASEAN to establish bases or raise funds in Singapore, as well as outbound Taiwanese companies venturing into regional markets,” Wong explains. “In addition, we support many Singapore-based corporates with their projects outside the country, including in Taiwan.”

Distinctly differentiated from a retail banking focus, CUB Singapore is strategically oriented towards corporate and wholesale banking, transaction banking services, and private wealth management for high net worth and ultra-high net worth clients. “We would like to focus on wholesale banking and private wealth management. We don’t operate the same retail model as in Vietnam or Cambodia,” remarks Wong.

On the wholesale corporate front, major business thrusts include cash management, trade finance, aviation and shipping finance, and corporate finance advisory. “We are the sponsors of Aviation Week here in Singapore, establishing ourselves as a centre of excellence for aviation finance,” says the CEO. CUB also effectively cross-leverages its sizeable Vietnam consumer finance franchise to support regional corporate clients’ expansion forays into other ASEAN markets.

Investing in cutting-edge digital capabilities is a key strategic imperative. “We are constantly upgrading and augmenting our corporate internet banking platform to serve clients better with enhanced payments and connectivity solutions,” Wong states. Enabling seamless API [application programming interface] integration with clients’ systems and developing a contemporary suite of new wealth management products are also prioritised by the bank.”

CUB is explicitly positioning its Singapore branch as a regional centre of excellence, with dynamic two-way transfer and cross-pollination of knowledge and expertise between the local hub and the group’s Taiwan headquarters. “The bank looks at CUB Singapore as a nexus whereby there’s an exchange of intelligence, innovation, and specialised expertise from Singapore into the wider group,” according to Wong.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) through strategic community outreach programmes engaging both staff and clients is another core focus area. “We have a keen sense of responsibility to contribute meaningfully to Singapore as an economic hub and nation,” emphasises Wong. CUB has ambitious plans to elevate the impact of its CSR initiatives by cultivating partnerships with local associations and proactively involving corporate clients.

Overall, the strategic significance and impact radius of CUB’s Singapore operations to the wider group has amplified substantially over the past 15 years, mirroring Southeast Asia’s economic resurgence. As Wong succinctly sums it up: “The strategic importance of CUB Singapore for the group as a whole is definitely higher now than perceived earlier, as a direct result of ASEAN’s secular growth story.”

With a keen eye firmly set towards capitalising on ASEAN’s economic renaissance, CUB is fortifying its Singapore nexus as a multifaceted regional nerve centre for product innovation, best-in-class corporate finance solutions, and facilitating seamless cross-border expansion. The bank’s elevated regional ambitions are in lockstep with the city-state’s own resolute trajectory to entrench its pre-eminence as a global financial centre.


Keywords: Cathay United Bank Singapore, Singapore Regional Hub, Asia Economic Growth, Cross-border Business Expansion, Corporate Banking Singapore, Digital Transformation In Banking, Financial Services Innovation, Asia-pacific Corporate Finance, Strategic Intelligence Sharing, Singapore Financial Hub
Institutions: Cathay United Bank, Aviation Week Network
Country: Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam, Cambodia
Region: Southeast Asia
People : Winfield Wong
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