Virtual wealth advisory service of OCBC sees big jump in sales

Launched during Circuit Breaker, OCBC Bank's virtual wealth advisory service saw a 45 per cent jump in sales (Image Credits: OCBC Bank Holland Village, Paul Ho,

Launched during Circuit Breaker, OCBC Bank’s virtual wealth advisory service saw a 45 per cent jump in sales

  • What was previously seen as impossible before the Covid-19 outbreak became the norm when the end-to-end wealth advisory, which includes the Financial Needs Analysis process, went online
virtual wealth advisory
Launched during Circuit Breaker, OCBC Bank’s virtual wealth advisory service saw a 45 per cent jump in sales (Image Credits: OCBC Bank Holland Village, Paul Ho,

On 18 April 2020, with the Circuit Breaker period still in effect, OCBC Bank took the highly-regulated wealth advisory process – a complex face-to-face process involving over 50 pages of documents and a comprehensive Financial Needs Analysis (FNA) – online.

OCBC Bank registered an increase of 45% in the sale of wealth management products in the first 10 days of launch compared to the prior 10 days, indicating a positive response from customers to non-face-to-face wealth conversations. The products range from unit trusts to bancassurance products, and from structured investments and bonds to foreign exchange products.

As a result, customers of OCBC Bank retail banking, OCBC Premier Banking and OCBC Premier Private Client were able to review their investment portfolios during a time of market volatility and seize investment opportunities. While the take-up for the new process by customers of the retail banking segment have been encouraging, customers of OCBC Premier Banking and OCBC Premier Private Client have shown a better response as many trades were already done over the phone in the past.

Since 18 April 2020, OCBC Bank’s more than 1,000 financial and wealth advisors have been conducting meetings and sales advisory via video and screen-sharing facilities in place of physical face-to-face interactions previously conducted at branches; OCBC Bank’s encrypted video conferencing tool is used to ensure customers’ privacy. E-signatures are accepted instead of paper signatures; pdf copies of FNA forms, product summary and term sheets, and product application forms are sent by encrypted email in place of paper documents.

Banking products purchased digitally soared during Circuit Breaker

Taking the complex and highly regulated wealth advisory process virtual is unprecedented. It is one of the biggest digital achievements in wealth management. It complements the strong self-service digital platform built long before the Covid-19 crisis.

OCBC Bank has seen the take-up for digital services soar, from new accounts to the sale of investments. Within the first two weeks of the Circuit Breaker, Time Deposit placements online increased 150%. Compared to January, there was a 14% increase in CASA opened in April. Overall, one in three credit cards and 30% of current accounts and savings accounts (CASA) are now acquired digitally.

Eight in 10 of OCBC Bank’s digitally active customers today bank using their mobiles; more than 90% of the total volume of the bank’s financial transactions in Singapore are performed on digital.

The digital adoption for wealth solutions continued to rise in the first quarter of 2020 as well. The bank saw robust growth of 40% in financial transactions year-on-year. Sixty per cent of unit trusts were purchased digitally, showing a 2.5 times quarter-on-quarter growth in value. Investment amounts in the OCBC RoboInvest service grew 60% quarter-on-quarter, an increase of 3.5 times year-on-year from the first quarter of 2019.

Virtual wealth advisory – the new normal even after Covid-19 outbreak

Prior to the Circuit Breaker measures being introduced, OCBC Bank’s financial consultants had reached out actively to customers to invite them to the branch for a review of their financial plans, an important annual milestone in a good financial planning journey.

As the Covid-19 outbreak worsened and people stayed home during the Circuit Breaker period which began on 7 April 2020, there was a 60% drop in average customer footfall at branches. OCBC Bank temporarily closed 22 branches on 9 April, to encourage more people to stay at home and minimise social contact to curb the spread of the virus for the safety of staff and customers. Twenty-four branches remained open to ensure that there was at least one branch open in the proximity of every neighbourhood town centre to support banking needs.

Mr Sunny Quek, OCBC Bank’s Head of Consumer Financial Services, Singapore, said: “Many have said that the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on health and economies is extraordinary. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. Today, we can bring the most complex and regulated wealth advisory process online and onto video platforms. This is extraordinary. This was no mean feat as it required careful execution to ensure the end-to-end process is safe and secure, and that we deal fairly with our customers. As a result, many of our customers who are concerned about their financial situations are still able to talk to us in the most effective and efficient way as if the consultant were physically present to offer superior advisory.

“While many customers are still accustomed to face-to-face interactions with our bankers, even after the Covid-19 outbreak, this virtual process will become a new normal. In the future, customers will have a choice at their convenience to decide the best mode of engagement for their financial needs.”

Mr Paul Ho, chief mortgage officer at iCompareLoan, said: “it is admirable that OCBC has brought the virtual wealth advisory service to its customers. The bank should take a risk-first approach to ensure customers of its virtual wealth advisory service understand the risks of their investments ahead of any potential returns. This is very important in this environment.”

He added, “Virtual wealth advisory service provision is a good decision because Covid-19 pandemic will be a game changer. Even before this crisis kicked-in, technology was already disrupting industries and investor patterns. The pandemic will only accelerate the disruption. Investors and industries which refuse to adopt and adapt to the changing world will have to face severe risks and these risks are unnecessary to take.”

Written by Ravi Chandran

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