SINGAPORE: OCBC, one of Singapore’s biggest banks, announced on Tuesday (Feb 20) that it would be helping its workers deal with high costs of living due to inflation, which includes giving its junior employees S$1000 each.

This one-time financial assistance initiative from OCBC will cost the bank almost S$9 million and will benefit over 40 per cent of the overall headcount in its 19 markets, or nearly 14,000 employees. This includes junior employees at the Bank of Singapore, OCBC Securities, and Great Eastern Holdings.

The bank noted that Singapore’s core inflation will most likely only moderate as we head to the last quarter of this year. Nevertheless, headline inflation in the country decreased from 6.1 per cent in 2022 to 4.8 per cent last year.

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In Singapore, 4,600 employees, including new hires and unionized employees, will get S$1,000 from the bank. Outside of the country, the gift from the bank will depend on local market conditions.

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The junior employees may expect to receive their payouts between February and March.

OCBC head of group human resources, Ms Lee Hwee Boon, said, “The amount, for each of the 14,000 who will benefit, may not be large. However, we hope that this can help colleagues defray concerns on the rising cost of living.”

“Beyond this, we recognise that the long-term solution is to empower colleagues to take charge of their own financial well-being–good financial planning can make a big difference amid inflationary pressures. To that end, we offer a range of resources and regular workshops to help strengthen their financial preparedness,” Ms Lee is quoted in Singapore Business Review as saying.

2023 was a very good year for OCBC, which saw a significant surge in net interest and non-interest income even by the third quarter. The bank’s net profit soared by 21 per cent to a new high of S$1.81 billion, propelled by robust growth in both core revenue streams.

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The performance extended beyond the quarter, as OCBC reported a net profit of $5.4 billion for the first nine months of this year, representing a year-on-year increase of over 30 per cent.

Key highlights from OCBC’s performance report include a 13 per cent year-on-year increase in total revenue for the last quarter. However, the cost-to-income ratio experienced a slight uptick, reaching nearly 40 per cent, underscoring the need for strategic cost management amidst the evolving economic landscape. /TISG

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