More than ever before, banks worldwide have the opportunity to tap into the lucrative Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) mass affluent market.

Banks such as HSBC, DBS, and United Overseas Bank (UOB) have been leading the way with their premium services. UOB’s focus to build upon its mass affluent clientele looks to be working as it focuses on strategic partnerships in key ASEAN markets, says GlobalData, publishers of RBI.

GlobalData Mass Affluent Banking in the ASEAN Region 2023 report

GlobalData’s “Mass Affluent Banking in the ASEAN Region 2023” reveals that the region’s mass affluent segment grew by 36.4% in numbers during 2017-22, with healthy growth set to continue.

Phoebe Hodgson, Associate Banking and Payments analyst at GlobalData, comments: “ASEAN member states have been benefiting from the economic growth in India, foreign direct investment, and an increasing level of market development, fueling heightened levels of consumption and trade.

“In particular, the Malaysian economy has been rapidly developing and is now the leading nation in Islamic finance. Additionally, labour market reforms have been effectively helping Malaysian workers cope with the rising cost of living, therefore creating more friendly environments for wealth accumulation.”

For years, the Malaysian market has been dominated by local providers such as Maybank, CIMB, and Public Bank. However, due to the expanding middle class, strong competition from international players is impacting the market. In particular, UOB has seen significant growth, becoming the fourth largest provider of current accounts in the mass affluent market in Malaysia.

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UOB boosts market share following Citi acquisition in Thailand

In 2023, UOB made up 10.3% of the Malaysian mass affluent savings account market share, up from its 2.6% share in the total market. UOB is also performing well in other key ASEAN markets including Thailand, where it makes up 9.4% of the mass affluent credit card market share, having picked up market share from the acquisition of Citibank’s retail bank.

Hodgson added: “UOB’s Privilege Banking boasts a wide range of features and rewards, making it highly personalised, which is vital to attracting the mass affluent. GlobalData’s report found that customers are willing to pay for additional financial offerings – including preferential deals on products and easier e-commerce experiences. UOB’s partnership with e-commerce company Lazada, a huge strategic collaboration expanding across five key ASEAN markets, is therefore an important element of its appeal to the mass affluent as well.”

Additional partnerships with the likes of Singapore Airlines and Taylor Swift’s Era’s Tour have also helped UOB boost credit card customer acquisition in the region, opening up opportunities for it to promote and cross-sell its Privilege account to many new-to-bank customers.

UOB recognised by RBI as Asia Trailblazer of the Year 2024

UOB collected the headline award of Asia Trailblazer of the year at RBI’s 15th annual RBI Asia Trailblazer awards in Singapore in March.

UOB has enjoyed a stellar year. It continues to build its retail banking franchise and drive its growing regional value proposition with its underlying commitment to personalisation anchored by customer centric product innovation.

On all the key retail banking metrics, this has been a standout year for UOB. Total income and net interest income growth are at notable highs boosted by strong credit cards metrics. The bank has also posted strong balance sheet growth with a double digit rise in deposits.

UOB’s continuous drive for innovation is evidenced in a number of areas such as notable payments initiatives and wealth management.

It has been a transformative period for UOB and it is fitting that the bank is recognised with the headline award this year.

UOB is setting a good example: Hodgson

Hodgson concluded: “Other banks in the ASEAN region also need to consider the role strategic partnerships can play in supporting their mass affluent appeal. This is a great opportunity for international and local banks to tap into one of the most exciting and lucrative markets – UOB is setting a good example.”