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CO-WRITTEN / PARTNER | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

Entrepreneurs' long-term partner for growth

Hang Seng Bank has a market capitalisation of HK$312.2 billion.

Founded in 1933, Hang Seng Bank has for more than 80 years served the businesspeople of Hong Kong, and their customers, through its trusted brand, large and loyal customer base and extensive distribution network. Hang Seng Bank today provides a full suite of commercial banking services – from business account, loans and trade financing to receivables and payment solutions – across eight Business Banking Centres.

Ten years ago, this banking brand established a wholly-owned subsidiary in mainland China. The Hang Seng brand also forms one of the bedrocks of Hong Kong’s capital market through the independently operated Hang Seng Index – globally acknowledged as the key indicator of sentiment in Hong Kong.

But it’s not only this impressive presence and renown which gives Hang Seng Bank its status as a leading commercial lender in Hong Kong. As of mid-2017, Hang Seng Bank has a market capitalisation of HK$312.2 billion. Furthermore, its commercial banking arm posted a pre-tax operating profit of HK$2.99 billion, up 21% in first half of 2017, stellar growth adding to several milestones over recent years.

In 2010, Hang Seng Bank was lead arranger of the first ever CNY-denominated syndicated loan, marking a breakthrough in offshore finance to complement its status as the second largest syndicated loan arranger in Hong Kong/Macau by deal number and third largest by deal amount in first half of 2017.

To retain its status as a mainstay of commercial banking in Hong Kong, Hang Seng Bank, in the words of its Head of Commercial Banking, Donald Lam, regards itself as a long-term partner to its clients. To that end, it sees its syndicated loans business as just one part of a desire to meet the cross border financing needs of Hong Kong enterprises with operations in the Pearl River Delta, as well as those looking to ‘go global’.

Providing long term partnership
“We will support commercial customers as they seize business opportunities created by major developments such as the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay area and the Belt & Road initiative,” Lam comments. “A dedicated team has been established to coordinate different departments to follow up business under Belt & Road, providing loan facilities and insurance coverage for their infrastructure construction and industrial investment projects.”

For clients to seize this cross-border opportunity, Hang Seng will strive to provide a more diversified range of financial products, utilising its South China network; and enhance its transaction banking and liquidity management services, so it can support businesses regardless of size of sector. It continues to improve its cross-border infrastructure, offering a full suite of financial management solutions, and of course seek to enhance its own business by taking advantage of mainland China reforms.
Financial technology is the main trend for banking industry.“As well as introducing financial technology to commercial banking services, we have constantly optimised our digital services,” Lam says. “These include upgrading Business e-Banking platform and expansion of the Business Banking Mobile App, where we aim to provide customers with greater convenience, speed and choice as to when and how they manage their financial needs.”

This year Hang Seng has an enhancement of its Business Banking Mobile App through which clients can upload business loan and credit card applications, and purchase insurance to speed up the application process and manage finance on the go. In cash management, the bank in 2016 launched Global Liquidity Solutions, allowing customers to track their balances and utilise auto-sweeping to make the most efficient use of idle funds. Its commercial card proposition now includes a virtual card number – Pay Smart – to help clients control disbursement and procurement spending. They have also brought in round-the-clock online foreign currency exchange.

Hang Seng Bank will continue to expand its services to ensure it meets the needs of existing commercial customers and attracts new ones. “In addition to traditional customer segments such as manufacturing, tourism, retail, wholesale, trading, catering and real estate businesses, we will expand our customer base by supporting new industry sectors, including information technology, biomedical, infrastructure and energy industries,” Lam says.

Utilising fintech and other advanced technologies and techniques – whilst never losing sight of its core strengths – means Hang Seng Bank will continue to serve its clients more efficiently and gain greater insights into their needs. “Our investments in technology, data analytics and our physical and digital service channels have improved our ability to engage more effectively with customers, offer them greater convenience and choice, and respond quickly to their changing needs and market developments,” concludes Lam.

The bank offers not just daily banking, but also business advice for companies at different stages of development. It set up a dedicated YouTube channel to share the real stories of customers as a guide for emerging business talent. “The channel also includes 19 videos with practical information to demonstrate our solutions to different businesses, including tips on business account opening, digital banking, cash management, loans and trade finance, amongst others, as well as specific solutions for retail and catering businesses,” explains Lam. As well as disseminating this information via YouTube – where it received more than two million clicks within six months of release – Hang Seng also gives mainland Chinese clients the benefits of its client’s experience, and it also serves as a reference about its commercial banking product suite, through its official Hang Seng Bank (China) WeChat account.

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