• About UOB Kay Hian


For the most part of 2023, negative news permeated the global narrative, namely multi-year high US interest rates leading to concerns over the real estate downturn and consumption slowdown, bank failures and liquidity pressure, the ongoing war in Ukraine and tensions in the Middle East, together with fears of a recession.

Despite the negative undertone, global equity markets turned in surprisingly strong performances. The S&P 500 surged almost 25% in 2023, buoyed by optimism around mega big-cap tech stocks and the potential for interest rate cuts. Across global equities, Europe (STOXX 600 +11.7%), Japan (Nikkei 225 +30.1%) and India (Nifty 50 +20.0%) made strong gains. In contrast, China and Hong Kong delivered weak market performances (MSCI China Index declined 9.4% while Hang Seng Index fell 13.8%). China is dealing with some structural challenges including real estate malaise, high levels of local government debt and contraction in manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) leading to a weaker export recovery.While there were pockets of recovery (e.g. domestic tourism, electric vehicles, IT services) and real GDP growth was respectable at 5.2% in 2023, foreign trade was flat, household spending was relatively weak, and China recorded a significant foreign direct investment outflow in 2023 (US$68.7 billion) for the first time since 2018.

In Southeast Asia, there were contrasting fortunes: Indonesia (JCI +11.4%) and Singapore (STI +4.7%) delivered positive performances while Thailand (SET -15.2%) and Malaysia (FBMKLCI -2.7%) underperformed on the back of slower growth (Thai GDP +1.9%, Malaysia GDP +3.8%), weak currencies (Thai baht -3.0% and Malaysia ringgit -5.7% vs US dollar) and poor trade numbers.

Fixed income markets were also underperforming given the inverted yield curve as US Treasuries yields increased for most of the year. The final two months of the year saw some reversal of sentiment as the Fed openly discussed cutting interest rates in 2024 amid greater prospects of the US avoiding an economic hard landing.

I am pleased to report that UOB Kay Hian Group’s consolidated profit after tax and minority interests increased by 67.2% to $170.4 million, on the back of a 19.3% revenue improvement to S$591.5 million in FY23. The higher interest rate environment benefitted our financing business and our internal treasury management, leading to a substantial 67.2% growth in interest income to S$262.3 million. In comparison, commission and non-interest income aggregated S$320.3 million, representing a modest decline of 1.5% yoy, helped by our higher margin product mix and despite our core markets having recorded significantly lower stock market turnover.

Non-finance expenses increased 3.4% during the year, as a 16.5% rise in staff costs was offset by an 11.4% decline in commission expenses and 2.9% lower other operating expenses. While the rising interest rates backdrop did push up finance expenses significantly, these were compensated for by interest income growth. As a result, we closed FY23 at a much stronger pre-tax margin of 32.1% (+7.0 percentage points) and a 56.7% higher profit before tax of S$190.2 million, while maintaining a healthy shareholders’ equity of S$1,893.2 million.

In 2023, we launched a corporate action portal on the UTrade platform for our clients, enabling prompt e-notifications on their corporate action events and direct submission of related instructions online for all markets. We also revamped our client servicing technologies and systems. In recognition of our staff ’s dedication and commitment to high customer service standards, UOB Kay Hian was ranked first in The Straits Times Singapore’s Best Customer Service 2023/24 Award for Brokerage.


Our Board of Directors has recommended a first and final tax-exempt (one-tier) dividend of 9.2 cents per share (2022: 6.0 cents per share), maintaining a payout ratio of approximately 50%.

As in the previous year, our shareholders can opt to receive their dividends in cash and/or in shares.


Looking ahead in 2024, prospects of multiple rate cuts in line with easing inflationary pressure should improve liquidity, leading to increased activity across capital markets in Asia. While we look forward to a more conducive risk-taking environment, we remain vigilant and alert towards market volatility and unexpected developments. We strive to further improve our product and service offerings, strengthen our capabilities, and ensure our clients have the most timely and pertinent opportunities.


In 2023, we ramped up our Corporate Social Responsibility efforts by kickstarting a volunteer programme comprising of a partnership with SUNDAC (a non-profit social service agency that serves and cares for persons with disabilities), a day to support their activities and a half-day volunteer leave for all staff who are encouraged to utilise it to support charitable causes of their choice. We also continued to support various community and charity projects with total donations of S$4.1 million during the year.


I am pleased to extend a warm welcome to Mr Michael Tay, our Independent Director, who joined our Board on 1 March 2024. Mr Tay is currently the Group Managing Director of The Hour Glass Limited and will bring a wealth of business and management experience to the group. We very much look forward to his future contributions. I would also like to thank our shareholders and stakeholders for their support, trust and faith in my management team and we pledge to continue to serve you to the best of our abilities.

Chairman and Managing Director