HSBC expanding its wealth businesses in S'pore and the region

Mr Anurag Mathur, HSBC's wealth and personal banking head, and Mr Philip Kunz, the bank's head of global private banking for South-east Asia, spoke about the needs of wealthy clients and what Singapore has to offer in the wealth banking sector. PHOTO
Mr Anurag Mathur, HSBC's wealth and personal banking head, and Mr Philip Kunz, the bank's head of global private banking for South-east Asia, spoke about the needs of wealthy clients and what Singapore has to offer in the wealth banking sector. PHOTO: HSBC
Mr Anurag Mathur, HSBC's wealth and personal banking head, and Mr Philip Kunz, the bank's head of global private banking for South-east Asia, spoke about the needs of wealthy clients and what Singapore has to offer in the wealth banking sector. PHOTO
Mr Anurag Mathur, HSBC's wealth and personal banking head, and Mr Philip Kunz, the bank's head of global private banking for South-east Asia, spoke about the needs of wealthy clients and what Singapore has to offer in the wealth banking sector. PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

HSBC is building on Singapore's growing stature as a hub for the well-heeled by expanding its wealth businesses here and in the region.

It plans to hire around 5,000 customer-facing staff in the next five years in Hong Kong, Singapore and mainland China to serve clients in the coveted sector.

The roles include relationship managers, investment counsellors and specialists to support wealthy customers.

It is already on track to bringing 1,000 of these new employees on board by the year end, including a significant number in Singapore, said wealth and personal banking head Anurag Mathur.

Mr Mathur noted that despite the widening range of digital tools, the wealthy still need a personal approach when discussing their financial plans.

"We are very much building and heading towards a hybrid model for client servicing, which means digital and human face-to-face options," he added.

"Clients want information and insights on their portfolio, which we deliver digitally. But the clients also want the human touch and the understanding, which cannot be done with a robo adviser."

Singapore also has to deepen the skills of its local staff, said Mr Philip Kunz, HSBC's head of global private banking for South-east Asia.

"One of the big challenges we face is the talent pool indeed is shallow. If you add up the number of people banks need to hire (in such roles), there are more than (they have)."

Hiring is especially vital as HSBC Singapore aims to double its total wealth balances in the next five years to 2025.

Total wealth balances refer to the amount of deposits and investable assets that clients hold with HSBC across its retail, private banking and asset management segments.

Recently, HSBC said it was withdrawing from its American mass market retail banking to shift its focus to Asia.

The bank noted that since 2018, its wealth and personal banking business in Singapore has expanded its front-line wealth teams and grown total wealth balances at double-digit annualised growth rates.

This is also set to continue, with Singapore positioned as an international wealth hub.

Mr Mathur said: "Singapore has got all the ingredients right to attract investment. It's obviously a great place to live, with a stable currency and rule of law. It's an international financial centre and hub for multinationals and talent."

  • 1,000

    Number of new customer-facing staff HSBC is on track to bringing on board by the year end in Hong Kong, Singapore and mainland China, to serve well-heeled clients.

    2

    HSBC Singapore aims to double its total wealth balances - amount of deposits and investable assets that clients hold with HSBC across its retail, private banking and asset management segments - in the next five years to 2025.

He added that Singapore has long attracted investors from South-east Asia, such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, but even those farther afield are now looking to the Republic as a place to park their wealth.

"We have seen a lot of growth from two diasporas, in particular the overseas Chinese segment, particularly from Hong Kong and (mainland) China. As they grow and diversify their wealth, that's a big driver of the growth for Singapore."

The Indian diaspora from India and the Middle East are also gravitating towards Singapore as their wealth hub, Mr Mathur added.

HSBC's strategy to capture these opportunities involves strengthening its digital capabilities to suit customer demands, he said, noting that Covid-19 has also boosted its clients' adoption of digital processes. The amount of wealth sales done online has doubled over the past two years.

This level of digital penetration is expected to grow four-or fivefold in five years, he said.

"Increasingly, clients want to be able to do things on their own, especially the simpler things in their own time. Now they can open an investment account through the mobile app, trade stocks or equities and view their investment portfolios to see their gains and losses."

Mr Kunz noted that the bank is monitoring the development of cryptocurrencies, which are still quite volatile and novel.

"Regulators are still considering how we can best bring this into the existing world of finance," he said.

"So while it is exciting and interesting, I think that overall we are monitoring, adjusting and looking for the right moment to then take that into our world of advice and support for clients."

Separately, HSBC is also setting its sights on bringing more green products and options to clients.

The bank has a global commitment to recycling the plastic from credit cards to achieve net-zero emissions by 2030.

This move will be rolled out here in the second half of the year, Mr Mathur said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 01, 2021, with the headline 'HSBC expanding its wealth businesses in S'pore and the region'. Subscribe