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Morning Coffee: It’s suits vs hoodies as DBS battles to become a fintech employer

It’s suits vs hoodies as DBS battles to be a tech employer

Bank or start-up?

Can a bank really offer a workplace culture similar to a fintech start-up? DBS is at least trying.

Tan Su Shan, the firm’s head of consumer banking, recently flew out to Silicon Valley to arrange a meeting with the developers of a financial wealth app, reports Finance Asia, only to be rebuffed because they didn’t want her to “ask questions and learn”.

But not all of DBS’ efforts to infuse some start-up culture into its ranks have been as fruitless. In April DBS ran a three-day hackathon – described by Finance Asia as a “clash of suits and hoodies” to allow 150 of its staff to collaborate with start-up geeks to create mobile apps. “We brought in our top senior leadership mixed with a bunch of [20-somethings] in t-shirts and jeans and we said go build applications,” said David Gledhill, head of technology and platforms.

DBS is also investing S$200m into its digital platform as CEO Piyush Gupta focuses on making the bank behave like a technology company in the face of competition for Asian market share from both start-ups and internet giants like Alibaba and Tencent, who have successfully launched e-commerce arms.

Bank in Asia and globally still have a long journey ahead if they are to convince fintech types to join them or remain in their employment. One of the main reasons that fintech entrepreneurs leave banks is the rigid working culture. “I saw lots of inefficiencies in IT systems working in banking, layers that just didn’t need to be there – it can be a high-cost/low innovation culture,” Cynthia Siantar, a former HSBC employee and founder of Singapore start-up Call Levels, told us last month. “And there’s a lot of bureaucracy – before implementing a new IT idea you often have to get approval from head office overseas and from compliance.”

Meanwhile:

China stocks tumble as investors doubt Beijing’s help. (WSJ)

Maybank draws top millennial talent for battle of wits. (Rappler)

Regulations a big concern among Singapore insurance firms. (Business Times)

Why not everything is perfect in Singa-heaven. (South China Morning Post)


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