S’pore is critical market for corporate banking, wealth business: HSBC head Noel Quinn

(From left) HSBC Group CEO Noel Quinn, DPM Heng Swee Keat and HSBC Singapore CEO Wong Kee Joo cutting the ribbon at the official opening of HSBC's new Singapore headquarters on Nov 14, 2022. ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM

SINGAPORE – Banking heavyweight HSBC views Singapore as a critical market with key opportunities in corporate banking and wealth management, said group chief executive Noel Quinn on Monday.

“We have every ambition to grow our business substantially here in Singapore. We know there is very strong competition – and strong competition is good – but we want to continue to develop,” he added.

The London-based lender’s head honcho was in town for the official opening of HSBC Singapore’s new headquarters in Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 2.

Staff moved out of the bank’s former home at 21 Collyer Quay – its first office in Singapore – and into the space of more than 140,000 sq ft in June 2020. The new office occupies the top seven floors of the 50-storey Marina Bay tower.

HSBC has a local workforce of 4,000, with some deployed at its other offices in Mapletree Business City that house business functions such as retail banking.

Mr Quinn said Singapore is a key pillar of HSBC’s growth strategy in Asia, and the bank will leverage the city-state’s strengths as a regional hub for wealth, treasury management, innovation and sustainability.

“Singapore is a very welcoming market. It’s one of the most professional regulatory environments I see around the world... It’s an environment of collaboration between regulators and the Government, in partnership with businesses,” he told around 200 HSBC executives and bankers at Monday’s opening ceremony.

HSBC said in 2021 that it will invest US$6 billion (S$8.3 billion) in Asia over the next few years, with half flowing to South-east Asia and India, and the rest to Hong Kong and China.

The bank aims to double its wealth business in Singapore by 2025. It is also targeting double-digit growth in its commercial banking business here.

It completed its acquisition of AXA Singapore this year in a move that is expected to double its share of the local life insurance market.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, who was the guest of honour at Monday’s event, said HSBC has grown its local workforce by 16 per cent over the past few years, and has focused on nurturing its people and providing them with global experience.  

There are more than 200 Singaporeans working for HSBC overseas, including some in senior regional appointments.

Local executives who took on senior roles upon returning home include HSBC Singapore’s chief executive Wong Kee Joo, who spent most of his career with the bank overseas – in China, Thailand and Hong Kong.

“Global mobility is critical for every multinational workforce,” said Mr Heng, who urged the bank to continue to groom more global-ready talent, including Singaporeans.

Mr Wong said: “Today, Singapore is open for business post-pandemic, so we wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate this milestone that signals a new chapter for HSBC in Singapore.”

The bank’s history and progress mirror that of the city-state, he added, noting how the company provided basic loans and banking services to merchants and financed the import, export and entrepot trade when it set up shop here in 1877.

“Now, in 2022, Singapore has grown from strength to strength to become Asia’s top financial centre, and a top three global financial hub, leading the way not just in traditional asset classes, but in the fields of wealth, digitalisation and sustainability thought leadership.”

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