CHAMPION OF THE YOUTH

12 Mar 2024

PHOTOGRAPHY BY ZULFADLI RAHMAN, SPORT OUTFIT FROM ADIDAS

Albert Chiu, Executive Chairman of EFG Bank Asia Pacific, has parlayed his passion into sponsorship programmes that have benefited many in sports and the arts.

WHICH EFG SPONSORSHIPS HAVE YOU PUT IN PLACE DURING YOUR TENURE AT THE BANK?

As one of the leading Swiss banks in Asia Pacific, EFG not only wants to be a trusted long-term partner to our clients in the region, but we are also committed to engaging with the communities around us.

Throughout my tenure at EFG, I have taken the lead in initiating impactful cultural sponsorships aimed at fostering talent and growth. In Singapore, we have supported arts and music since 2008 and we are the main sponsor of the renowned Singapore-based jazz pianist and composer Jeremy Monteiro.

In 2017, Jeremy, myself, and others within the jazz community founded the Jazz Association Singapore (JASS) which aims to make jazz music more accessible and inclusive. JASS has been supporting young, aspiring Singaporean jazz artistes – like flautist Rit Xu, winner of Singapore’s National Young Artist Award, and saxophonist Sean Hong Wei – with music scholarships since 2018.

In Hong Kong, we launched the EFG Young Athletes Foundation in 2009 to nurture and support promising young local golfers like Taichi Kho, currently Hong Kong’s top male golfer, and Tiffany Chan, who joined one of the Foundation’s elite junior golfing programmes when she was a 14-year-old amateur. EFG has since continued to support Tiffany Chan with a scholarship that helped her through her amateur and college careers, as well as her Rio Olympics campaign. Tiffany is the first and only Hong Kong golfer to play the prestigious LPGA tour as well. She is, since 2017, a Global Sport Ambassador for EFG, representing the bank around the world.

In 2019, the EFG Young Athletes Foundation and the Hong Kong Tennis Association established the EFG HKTA Tour Team, supporting top female tennis players like Eudice Chong and Cody Wong, who rank first and second in Hong Kong.

In 2020, we launched the EFG Singapore Junior Masters and later became the title sponsor of EFG/ SICC Junior Invitationals in 2022. And this year, we embarked on a new partnership with the Singapore Golf Association. and pledged to bolster its programmes to support young golf talents in a three-year programme.

This collaboration also marked the start of the EFG-SGA Elite Young Golfers Scholarship, which seeks to recognise and reward exceptional young golfers demonstrating both sporting prowess and leadership qualities who have also actively participated in recognised golfing competitions. After a rigorous selection process, we awarded this prestigious scholarship to outstanding golfers Aloysa Atienza and Brayden Lee, as well as to James Leow, who additionally assumed the role of Elite Young Golfer Ambassador.

2023 also marked the launch of the inaugural EFG Young Athletes Foundation International Golf Challenge in Hong Kong, which not only showcases outstanding talent but also raises funds to support the work of the Singapore Golf Association as well as the EFG Hong Kong Young Athletes Foundation.

HOW HAS EFG BENEFITED FROM THESE SPONSORSHIPS?

As a dynamic and entrepreneurial financial institution, EFG views these sponsorships as an integral part of our commitment to supporting emerging talent and fostering growth. These initiatives not only benefit the individual athletes but are also aligned with our vision of promoting entrepreneurship and excellence.

We are also very proud that our sponsorships have also inspired other Singapore corporates to follow. As mentioned, we organised the inaugural EFG Young Athletes Foundation International Golf Challenge last year which aimed to raise donations for the Singapore Golf Association Junior Development Program. I am very pleased that many Singapore corporates had followed our lead to support the event. With the success, we have decided to host the second edition of this charity event in Singapore this year.

HOW DOES EFG SELECT WHO YOU’D LIKE TO SUPPORT IN GOLF?

EFG takes a strategic approach to selecting the athletes whom it supports. We focus on individuals who display exceptional talent, dedication and the potential to develop. For example, we have been sponsoring Tiffany Chan, one of the most talented golf players from Hong Kong, for 15 years, thus demonstrating our long-term commitment to nurturing talent. Tiffany’s inspiring journey, from representing Hong Kong in the Olympics to becoming the first Hong Kong female golfer to qualify for the Ladies Professional Golf Association US Open, underscores the beneficial impact of our support.

We are also proud to support rising talents including Singapore’s Aloysa Atienza, Brayden Lee, as well as Hong Kong’s Arianna Lau and Issac Lee not just because of their skills but also for their determination to succeed.

Alongside Tiffany, we are delighted to support professional athletes including Matthew Cheung, who is now an EFG Young Athletes Foundation Ambassador, and James Leow, an EFG-SGA Elite Squad Ambassador, as well as Singapore’s first female golf professional, Koh Sock Hwee. They all represented their respective cities in the Asian Games 2023 in Hangzhou. Matthew made us proud by coming home with a bronze medal in the team event.

We are very encouraged by the recent success of Shannon Tan, who just became the first Singaporean to win a professional golf title overseas. We want to do more for Singapore golf and are always on the lookout for other potential partnerships.

AS A PRIVATE WEALTH CONCERN, HOW HAS EFG EVOLVED IN THE LAST FEW YEARS?

EFG is one of the leading Swiss private banks with a global presence and an entrepreneurial business model. We have a clear and consistent strategy that is focused on achieving sustainable and profitable growth.

In the past few years, EFG has improved EFG’s profitability and maintained strong growth momentum. Consistency has been key in this context. At the same time, we have fundamentally transformed the bank and significantly de-risked its balance sheet.

EFG has strong and solid foundations and is well positioned to compete successfully in the current market environment. It has a strong capital base and a highly liquid balance sheet, as well as a robust compliance and risk management framework. Thanks to our capital-light business model, we generate excess capital and are therefore in a position to seize attractive new opportunities that arise.

We aim to maintain our strong growth trajectory and to further increase scalability, profitability and efficiency. Our priority is, of course, to continue to deliver high-quality, personalised solutions and impartial advice to our clients. Our entrepreneurial spirit is part of our DNA and has driven the growth of our company from its early days as a start-up to its position today as a leading Swiss private bank.

Our ambition is to generate attractive returns for our shareholders and to further transform the bank to continuously meet our clients’ needs in a rapidly evolving environment.

WHAT MAKES SINGAPORE SUCH A CHOICE PLACE FOR PRIVATE WEALTH INSTITUTIONS TO BE BASED HERE?

Singapore’s appeal as a hub for private wealth institutions lies in its strategic location, robust regulatory framework, and dynamic financial system. The city-state offers a favourable environment for wealth management activities, with its stable political climate and pro-business policies that attract investors and high-net worth individuals from around the world. EFG recognises the importance of Singapore’s financial centre within the wealth management landscape. This is reflected by our significant presence and operations in the region.

As the second-largest region for EFG after Switzerland and Italy, Asia Pacific offers immense potential for growth, with key segments including Greater China, non-resident Indians, Indonesia, and external asset managers. Our booking centres in Singapore and Hong Kong allow us to seize the compelling opportunities and to leverage the growth trends in the Asia Pacific market, while benefiting from the city-state’s strengths as a global financial centre.

GIVEN THE LARGE NUMBER OF PRIVATE BANKS LOCATED IN SINGAPORE, WHAT SETS EFG APART?

As one of the top-ten Swiss private banks, EFG stands out in Singapore’s competitive landscape by embodying an entrepreneurial mindset within private banking. Our Client Relationship Officers (CROs) serve as true partners to our clients, prioritising their needs and interests and employing a hands- on, solution-oriented approach.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH EFG?

I have had the privilege of being part of EFG for over two decades, having joined the bank in 2000 to establish and head up its Asia operations. My journey with EFG began after gaining valuable experience in other global banks. Over the years, my role has evolved, culminating in my appointment as CEO of EFG in Asia Pacific in 2009. Now as Executive Chairman, I am responsible for overseeing and driving the growth of our business across the region.

WHAT SPORTS DO YOU PLAY?

Sports have always been a passion of mine. I love football and I am a proud supporter of Manchester United. An interesting aspect of my sporting journey is my tenure as a FIFA-accredited soccer referee from 1990 to 2005, representing Hong Kong  on the global stage. Through this experience, I learned valuable lessons about maintaining my composure and demonstrating leadership in challenging situations; these are skills that have been invaluable in my professional endeavours.

Of course, I also enjoy golf, and I can often be found on the golf course on a Saturday or Sunday morning. Golf is one of the unique sports that allows players of all abilities to come together to play and enjoy a sense of camaraderie. Playing golf also forces me to practice a form of mindfulness. When I am on the course, I have to block out all the things weighing on my mind and focus on playing the shot.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT YOUR PAST EXPERIENCE THAT HAS NURTURED THE SENSE OF GIVING BACK TO SPORTS OR THE ARTS?

I have always enjoyed doing sport. When I was young, I wanted to be a footballer. While I never had the chance to fulfil that childhood dream of going professional, I can now engage in sport from different angles, whether it is as a passionate football fan and FIFA referee or by holding leadership roles within the Hong Kong Football Association and embracing golf sponsorship roles. These different experiences have not only shaped my personal and professional growth but also instilled a deep sense of responsibility in me to support and nurture young talent in sports and also the arts. I believe that sports play a vital role in creating a positive mindset and resilience, and EFG is proud to support the next generation of talents in realising their potential and positively influencing their peers.

DID YOU KNOW…

THE REASON WHY I STARTED PLAYING GOLF
WAS… so that both my wife and I could enjoy the same sport together. That was 20 years ago, and in that time, we’ve made a close group of friends whom we regularly play with. After our sons were born, we stopped playing for almost 15 years because we wanted to spend more time with them. Now that both of our boys have grown up, we have started to actively play golf again in the past five years.

OTHER THAN GOLF, I… still play football regularly with a group of close friends every other week. I also run quite a lot as well. My interest in running probably developed from my refereeing days. I used to run at least one marathon every year until only a few years ago.

MY MOST MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE WAS… going to Mission Hills Golf Club in Shenzen every year with my golf friends and spending a week there playing. That was in the early 2000s and we would play 36 holes a day, and complete all the golf courses there within five days. We called it our “Annual Golf Marathon”.

IF I WEREN’T A BANKER, I’D… probably do something related to sports – maybe a soccer commentator or critic

WHAT GIVES ME JOY IS… watching all the young talents do well in their sports. Last year, a total of 10 young athletes supported by us in the region competed in the Hangzhou Asia Games for Singapore and Hong Kong respectively. I feel so proud for all of them, and to watch Taichi getting a gold medal and Matthew a bronze live was just amazing!

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