Business owners in Asia are keen to tap on vast growth opportunities in the region - and are also concerned about preserving a legacy for the next generation. HSBC’s holistic approach to personal and corporate banking can help take care of these increasingly complex needs, says Philip Kunz, Head of Global Private Banking, Southeast Asia, HSBC Private Banking and Alan Turner, Head of Commercial Banking, Singapore, HSBC Limited.
Global reach, Asian perspectives
Growth in Asia is taking off and the needs of companies in the region are evolving in tandem. “Asia is growing at a much faster rate than other markets, a trend that is going to continue,” says Mr Turner. “The amount of wealth creation relative to other parts of the world is strong,” he notes, adding: “We see a desire among clients to seek support and advice on how to take advantage of the opportunities in ASEAN and the broader Asian market.”
This includes advice on how clients should structure their companies for overseas growth - for example, a Singapore-based company keen on expanding into Malaysia and Indonesia might be keen to find out how best to manage wealth generated from these new markets.
HSBC has a long history in the ASEAN region - a presence in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand since the 19th century. This long-standing presence means the bank can offer clients unparalleled depth and range of banking services.
Mr Kunz says HSBC’s deep expertise in Asia allows the bank to offer sophisticated solutions to clients with their increasingly demanding needs.
“HSBC is in a unique position - we are deeply integrated into local communities and long-established in Asia. We truly understand the backdrop of Asian culture, the values by which enterprise owners run their businesses and how they want to leave legacies for generations to come,” he adds.
In addition to deep knowledge about Asia, the bank is also highly connected globally - it has a presence in over 60 countries which represent 90 per cent of the global economy.
“An important part of the HSBC story is the international reach we have,” says Mr Turner. “We have a strong presence in Asia and beyond, a unique capability that we are able to bring to business owners in Singapore and the region.”
Holistic, bespoke approach to client needs
The bank’s international reach and deep local expertise set it apart from the competition and allow it to offer a full suite of integrated banking services to clients.
“Most private banking players outside of the regional or domestic banks don't actually have a commercial offering at all,” says Mr Kunz.
He adds that the private and commercial banking arms work closely together to offer enterprise owners a holistic suite of services - especially when it comes to succession planning and building legacies.
“Private and commercial banking go hand in hand. We identify the clients' needs on both sides of the balance sheet - what the company does, who are its competitors, what is it exposed to, and how we can help.
“What sets us apart is our ability to help commercial clients deploy excess cash through the private bank for long-term planning and long-term saving for the next generation.”
This process does not only involve liquid, bankable assets, Mr Kunz notes. “There are also questions like - what do I do with the family-owned company which has many shareholders?”
Engaging with Asian companies often means “talking to the business leader and owner at the same time”, Mr Turner adds.
“One of the major differentiators for companies banking with HSBC is that that anyone who is a client with the commercial bank has a dedicated relationship manager,” he notes. This relationship manager works closely with counterparts in the private bank.
“This proposition is different from many other banks, where you might be placed in a large portfolio which is serviced instead of proactively supported,” adds Mr Turner.
In practice, what this means is that a company keen on expanding regionally - for instance, beyond Singapore shores - might discuss growth plans and loans with the commercial bank, with surplus cash generated passed on to the private bank as the company moves along its growth journey.
This collaborative approach distinguishes HSBC’s offerings, says Mr Kunz. “The needs of private banking clients have been growing year by year - the need for exit know how and specialist skills has increased tremendously,” he notes.
“There is no individual that commands the skillset across all these needs - which could range from a simple credit card application to sophisticated setups for philanthropy and expanding businesses overseas.
“This team approach is what differentiates us from others.”
Going digital - with a human touch
Banks around the world are going digital and HSBC is no exception. The use of big data and artificial intelligence is set to result in “amazing changes as to how we approach clients and deploy our people”, Mr Kunz says.
But even as banking processes are transformed by technology, client relationships and the human touch remain vital.
“Many banks see relationship and technology as either-or. For example, they might have a digital platform that allows clients to self-serve. But we believe technology needs to be complemented with the human touch,” says Mr Turner. While much of the bank’s work is underpinned by leading technology, “it’s not our client's job to be an expert in commercial or private banking. It’s our job to distil all the information to best suit our clients' needs”, he notes.
“A business cannot talk about major events in its life with a machine. An owner cannot talk about passing the business to the next generation to a machine. Investment in technology is vital and central to HSBC’s recently announced US$15bn investment programme in the next three years, but the human touch still underpins our commercial and private banking approach,” Mr Turner adds.
The impact of technological change on private banking is still playing out, says Mr Kunz.
“How and what degree are private clients readily using digital offerings? No one really has the answer yet. It's a very interesting area but it's not quite what everyone thinks.”
Mr Kunz thinks it will be some time yet before private banking goes fully digital. “The personal touch will continue to be of paramount importance - which involves the interpretation of what all this information really means.
“But that doesn't mean we can stand still. For example, with family offices, those capabilities are absolutely needed - access to information as and when they want, on the gadgets they prefer. The next step involves delivering information to clients whenever and wherever they want to.”