NEW YORK/HONG KONG • Standard Chartered aims to expand its presence in the United States with a local hiring push and by bolstering its team in the country with senior staff from its main regions of Asia, the Middle East and Africa, its top bankers said.
The world's top economy contributed US$661 million (S$912 million) to Standard Chartered's operating income last year, or 5 per cent of the total, making it the smallest of its major markets - Hong Kong, China, India and the United Arab Emirates.
"We really view the Americas as a growth area. When I say that, we are not looking to be JPMorgan or Bank of America Merrill Lynch or Wells Fargo," StanChart's Americas CEO Torry Berntsen told Reuters at the bank's New York office. "We think we have a special calling card in terms of what our network looks like."
The plan is to offer StanChart's trade finance, transaction banking, cash management and forex market products to large US firms, senior bankers said. This push comes about five years after StanChart reached a US$340 million settlement with the US authorities over transactions linked to Iran. The bank is due to stay under supervision until year-end, though there are concerns it could be extended.
Higher interest rates, healthy corporate loan growth and hopes that President Donald Trump's lower taxes and plans for lighter financial regulation would boost the banking sector's growth provide the right backdrop for expansion.
"It's more of a new focus and it is as a result of Bill and Simon coming in... We think it is a great growth prospect for the bank," said Mr Berntsen, referring to CEO Bill Winters and former HSBC banker Simon Cooper, who joined last year as chief of corporate and institutional banking.
Mr Cooper has since made changes to turn around the bank that had been hit by losses from bad debts and slowing economic growth in its major markets.