Agarwal has joined the company from Dell, where he was regional marketing director for Asia-Pacific and Japan and global director for emerging markets.
At DBS, Agarwal will be in charge of brand development and communications. He noted that while DBS is a strong brand in Singapore, it has significant potential to expand internationally in Asia.
“It’s rare to get the opportunity to develop a brand in an institution so large,” he said in a telephone interview. “It isn’t about leaving Dell, but about taking an exciting opportunity that I don’t believe happens very often.”
He said he aims to “tell the brand story in a sustainable and engaging way”. A big part of that is being able to connect with “the everyday person”, he explained.
He said that in capitalising on the bank’s opportunities for expansion across multiple markets, it is important to ensure that “the tenets are consistent”. He added that he would draw on his experience at Dell in the new role, particularly in the area of social media.
“The financial services sector can do more to harness social media, so as to better serve customers. We can also use it as a tool to be part of brand amplification in a manner that’s constructive,” he observed.
He said expectations from Asian consumers differ from those of their Western counterparts in terms of service and connectivity. He also noted that the sector remains very dynamic given that many Asian institutions were not strongly impacted by the financial crises of recent years. Part of the role of marketing, he said, is in understanding consumer aspirations and turning them into opportunities.
Agarwal reports to Karen Ngui, managing director and head of group strategic marketing and communications at the bank. His appointment marks a return to the financial industry: prior to Dell, he held senior roles at Genworth Financial and Capital One.