UOB has just hired one of DBS’s most important MDs

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Veteran banking technologist Albert Kho has left DBS to become a managing director in UOB’s technology unit. The move comes as the two rival Singaporean banks increase their technology headcounts and compete to launch new digital products.

Kho is now an MD, group retail and channels, technology and operations at UOB. He held leadership roles at DBS since 2011, when he joined as regional head of consumer banking operations strategic initiatives and digital bank operations (at ED level), according to his LinkedIn profile. In 2016, Kho became head of Singapore consumer banking operations and in 2018 he added regional self-service banking to his remit and was promoted to MD.

It’s likely that Kho will be missed at DBS. During his tenure the firm introduced its mobile-only strategy, (called digibank by DBS), began to track app use, and launched video teller machines.

DBS has also stepped up its technology hiring, including into Kho’s former team. Of the 1,363 new people that DBS added to its headcount in the year to end-June, 575 were what the firm classifies as “insourced” tech professionals – people who previously worked on DBS tech projects at vendors but are now employed by the bank. As we reported just last week, about 36% of current DBS vacancies in Singapore are for technology and digital banking roles.

It’s no surprise that Kho has chosen UOB as his new employer. The bank competes in similar sectors to DBS and has similarly increased its technology workforce over the past year.

A 1,443 year-on-year rise in UOB’s Q2 headcount was mainly driven by tech hiring. UOB’s second quarter report partly attributes a 10% increase in total costs to “IT-related expenses” as it remained “committed to investing in talent and technology”. About 40% of UOB’s current 272 Singapore-based openings are in tech.

New UOB recruit Kho graduated with a degree in engineering from NUS in 2000 and then joined GE Money, latterly becoming its chief information officer. He moved to Standard Chartered in 2007 and worked there for four years as head of operations, retail and distribution channels, in group consumer banking.

Image credit: verbaska_studio, Getty

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