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Interviews

OCBC Securities’ MD on Becoming Singapore’s Brokerage Partner of Choice

OCBC Securities’ MD on Becoming Singapore’s Brokerage Partner of Choice 1

Established in 1986, OCBC Securities is a leading brokerage firm in Singapore with more than 35 years of experience. A wholly owned subsidiary of OCBC Group, OCBC Securities has a wide network that gives it the leverage to grow a rich portfolio of products and services with capabilities to serve customers ranging from retail to corporates and institutions.

Wilson He has been the Managing Director of OCBC Securities since April 2020. He took up the position just as Singapore entered a COVID-19 lockdown and guided the company through a myriad of infrastructural changes during that period. He brings with him more than 18 years’ worth of experience in the financial services industry, with particular expertise in the area of digitalising securities trading.

OCBC Securities’ award-winning record includes the Global Banking & Finance awards for Best Mobile Trading Platform and Most Innovative Trading Platform in 2022. Editor Wanda Rich spoke to Wilson to find out what drives this success and about some of the competitive advantages on offer to OCBC Securities’ client base.

“As a global brokerage, we provide access to 31 international exchanges, with online access to 15 exchanges,” Wilson said. “Our digitalised services allow customers themselves to trade, and at the same time, our dedicated Trading Representatives continue to assist them when they need further guidance.”

As he went on to explain, the current state of the securities market in Singapore lends itself to a number of challenges but also opportunities. “Whilst new entrants such as fintech brokers present a challenge, they also shed light on opportunities in the market at the same time,” he said. “Our competitors help us to understand our customers in new ways and drive us to improve ourselves and keep up with their needs. These days, customers demand convenience and consolidation of products and services for quicker transactions.

“To be the partner of choice for a holistic wealth proposition, we have integrated our trading platforms with OCBC Bank’s internet and mobile banking platforms, which allow customers to trade and bank in one place. This is just one way in which we allow customers to manage both their equities portfolio and wealth at the same time.”

He did emphasise, however, that this focus on technology does not detract OCBC Securities from remaining service-oriented. “Aside from being a high-tech brokerage, we also maintain a high-touch approach and seek to upskill our equity salesforce to better assist customers, particularly when markets are volatile.

“Be it technology, service or product, innovation remains the core of our operations. In the year under review, we will continue to innovate on multiple fronts, developing new capabilities, products, and services to provide our customers a much more personalised experience, and continue enhancing our platforms to improve the synergy of offerings within the OCBC Group.”

With client relations at the core of its operations, OCBC Securities has taken careful measures to ensure that customers are receiving the best experience available. “As we are committed to a customer-centric strategy, the redesign of our iOCBC platforms naturally revolved around the primary focus of providing our customers with what they need as well,” Wilson commented. “To find out what type of trading experience our customers are looking for, we use a human-centred design process. This means we host customer labs where we speak to our customers personally to understand their motivations, pain points and delight points. Conducted frequently, in detail and with different customer groups, they allow us to discover customer behaviours across various customer segmentations. Using such insights, we are then able to formulate trading platforms that are catered to their needs.”

In doing so, they learned that during trading, when every second can make a difference to one’s trading move, customers favour the availability of all essential features in a single place. “We designed an order ticket where key details can be viewed in one holistic look before customers place a trade. We also upgraded our platforms with a more comprehensive set of trading tools so that customers would not have to navigate to multiple places to perform their technical analysis. The portfolios have been revamped to reflect real-time values and even include corporate action adjustments.

“The above changes were made in direct response to what customers have voiced in our interviews with them. We are delighted that the end result is an enhanced trading experience tailored to customers’ needs to help them capture their market opportunities.”

Wilson upheld that progress is ongoing, and that OCBC Securities will continuously strive to make improvements. “Moving forward, we are looking to upgrade iOCBC with Artificial Intelligence (AI) to provide personalised market content to help customers make more informed trading decisions. We are working closely with analysts from the OCBC Group Data Office to derive insights from extensive data on customer behaviour to achieve this. This AI development aligns with OCBC Securities’ goal of cultivating a data-driven culture and will help to solidify our position as a leading brokerage that keeps ahead of trends.”

He explained how customer labs have been conducted not just before the enhancements of the platforms, but during the upgrade and after completion to review customers’ takes on the changes and monitor how well these enhancements are being received. “We are delighted that the responses have been positive and encouraging, with many citing along the lines of the platforms being smooth, intuitive, user-friendly, and speedier than its predecessor,” he confirmed. “We also hear of customers describing an ease in placing their buy and sell orders in which their transactions are fuss-free and informative. The enhancement to reflect real-time values in customers’ portfolios is well-received as well.”

Additional ways in which investors can capture market opportunities have also been pursued by the Products team, including innovative tradable products. “Over the past two years, we have been curating a suite of unique ETFs by establishing partnerships with different stakeholders,” Wilson explained. “We started off with a collaboration within the OCBC Group, the Lion Global Investors. To date, we have minted three ETFs under the Lion-OCBC Securities branding. This includes the Lion-OCBC Securities Hang Seng TECH ETF, Lion-OCBC Securities China Leaders ETF and Lion-OCBC Securities Singapore Low Carbon ETF.

“These ETFs that aim to capture the potential of various industry leaders are in line with our strategy of expanding our product line to fulfil our customers’ objective of portfolio diversification under challenging market conditions,” he continued. “In particular, the Lion-OCBC Securities Hang Seng TECH ETF was announced as the Investment Product Innovation of the Year for Singapore at the annual Asian Banking and Finance Awards. Additionally, Lion Global Investors also won the Insurance Asia News award for Best ETF Manager.

“These awards are a testament to the success of the collaboration that combines the fund management expertise of Lion Global Investors and strategic focus of OCBC Securities in bringing global securities to customers. Not only does such a dynamic partnership deepen synergies within the OCBC Group, it also creates added value for our customers.”

Wilson describes the market and the economy as “like tides, with their own highs and lows.” For this reason, OCBC Securities is diligent in maintaining flexibility and adaptability during challenging times which, in the case of a global pandemic, has stood it in good stead when accommodating the changes to working conditions. “As we believe that people are our greatest asset at OCBC Securities, we focused on ensuring a proper infrastructure network to support our teams in their transition to a virtual working environment,” he elaborated.

“Whilst our team is adapting to new working arrangements, our customers’ needs are changing as well, thus we continued to innovate with new product offerings to match the fast-moving landscape. We also took the opportunity to digitalise our workflows and streamline our processes.”

Lastly, Wilson spoke on OCBC Securities’ approach to social responsibility and its support of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “OCBC Bank is focusing on six SDGs, including SDG 13 – climate action – which aligns with the OCBC Group’s material ESG commitment to sustainable financing, where banks play an important role in supporting low-carbon economy goals.”

“OCBC Securities also aims to support OCBC Group’s commitment towards lowering society’s carbon footprint. Our new Lion-OCBC Securities Singapore Low Carbon ETF seeks to align investment portfolios with a low-carbon, sustainable future by tracking the performance of the iEdge-OCBC Singapore Low Carbon Select 50 Capped Index. This index tracks the top 50 companies by Free Float Market Capitalisation that represent Singapore’s economy, focusing on decarbonisation.”

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