OCBC Bank names new group chief executive
Helen Wong to succeed Samuel Tsien who is retiring on April 14
8 Jan 2021 | The Asset
Helen Wong
Helen Wong

Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation has appointed Helen Wong as group chief executive officer, effective April 15. She succeeds Samuel Tsien, 66, who is retiring on April 14.

Wong, 59, joined OCBC Bank in February 2020 as deputy president and head of global wholesale banking. She started her career in banking with OCBC Bank in 1984, and was the bank’s first China desk manager. She moved on to other banks in Hong Kong before joining a global bank in 1992. In the following 17 years, Wong worked in various capacities in investment banking and corporate banking, responsible for debt capital markets business in Greater China, and later the relationship management of Hong Kong and Chinese corporates as head of global banking in Hong Kong.

In 2009, Wong moved to Shanghai and was appointed deputy CEO, and then president and CEO, of the global bank’s China subsidiary. She was promoted to group general manager in 2011 and became deputy chairman of the China subsidiary in 2013. Her last position was chief executive, Greater China, from 2015 to 2019, having responsibilities over the business in Mainland China, Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR and Taiwan.

She had also held various board appointments including serving as an independent director of one of the largest China-listed entities. She served as chairman of the Hong Kong Association of Banks in 2015.

Shortly after her arrival in OCBC Bank, Wong took on the challenge of co-leading the Transform for Future task force to review and redefine the OCBC Group strategy and operating model. As sustainability is one of the key areas of focus of the task force, Wong spearheaded a new Sustainability Taskforce to complement OCBC Group’s sustainability efforts.

Chairman Ooi Sang Kuang says Wong's appointment was the the result of a rigorous global search for the best qualified candidate who embodies both the capability to redefine OCBC Group strategy in light of challenges and opportunities and the bank’s core values.

“We had looked at candidates internally in OCBC, and within and outside Singapore before we agreed on Helen as the best qualified person. Helen’s experiences and expertise extend beyond corporate banking, Greater China and North Asia. She also ran a large banking operation of a global bank as the chief executive of Greater China, including Hong Kong, prior to joining OCBC. We are confident that Helen will be able to lead the OCBC Group to greater heights in an increasingly complex and challenging environment,” Ooi notes.

Thanking Tsien for his contributions, Ooi says: “In his nine years as the group CEO, Sam has significantly built the OCBC franchise into a much more diversified and resilient business. He has strengthened the risk culture and internal processes, and instilled a set of solid corporate values to guide the team in doing business in a sustainable way." 

OCBC Bank achieved a record net profit of S$4.87 billion (US$3.67 billion) in 2019, more than doubling 2011’s net profit of S$2.31 billion. Total assets grew to S$492 billion in 2019 from S$278 billion in 2011.