Corporate Banking

A bigger slice of the pie

by Grace Chan

Francesca McDonagh
head of personal financial services Hong Kong
Photo: Louis Lam

Global banker launches a new tailored service for the emerging mass of mid-market customers

In today's cut-throat business environment, banks are constantly identifying and addressing the diversity and socio-demographic characteristics of banking behaviours of different customer segments in a move to tailor services and products that offer customers greater flexibility and possible returns.

Recognising an emerging affluent group of mid-market customers, HSBC Hong Kong recently spearheaded a pioneering global personal banking service—HSBC Advance, which offers customers an integrated account that covers deposits, investments, insurance and credit cards, and is easily managed via a selection of channels including phone banking, online banking, priority branch service as well as self-service banking.

"The number of customers in this specific segment is on a constant increase as a result of the redistribution of wealth following the financial crisis," notes Francesca McDonagh, head of personal financial services, Hong Kong, HSBC.

HSBC Advance customers will benefit from convenient access to emergency cash at any HSBC branches worldwide when they go abroad. Furthermore, from the third quarter of this year on, they are allowed to review and manage multiple accounts in one or more markets by a single login and make fast and easy online fund transfers between these accoutns.

Ms McDonagh points out that in response to customers' protection-oriented appetite for wealth management, HSBC will tailor a wide range of products with insurance elements, which will help to protect the lifestyle of these customers and that of their family members. "They prefer straightforward products to sophisticated ones particularly because they find it easier to understand the risk associated," she adds.

Customer behaviour

A recent HSBC research found more than 150 million people around the world belong to the mid-market segment, while in Hong Kong the potential group of customers is estimated to be more than one million, representing a quarter of the city's total banking population.

In Hong Kong, this group of mid-market customers, aged between 25 and 45 with a monthly income of HK$30,000 or higher and a total relationship balance of HK$200,000 at any bank, are identified as educated and internationally-minded individuals who aspire to building their wealth to achieve various goals ranging from buying a property and travelling to a luxury destination to planning better education for their children.

At the same time, these customers make family protection a priority since the majority of them have young families. According to research findings, 63 per cent of liquid assets held by mid-market customers are in saving deposits.

Unlike the old days, one-size-fit-all banking can no longer satisfy today's growingly complex world, Ms McDonagh reiterates. "HSBC Advance customers, in particular, are now at their transitional stage of life with their financial aspirations varying accordingly.

Flexibility is therefore key to our banking offers for this target group," she underscores. "In terms of a banking, they value time and convenience and prefer self-directed and multi-channel propositions."

New growth

A team of dedicated staff equipped with financial planning expertise is good and ready to provide HSBC Advance customers with professional financial information while guiding them through their wealth management journey.

Although the bank's staff are expected to initiate constant contact with clients, the frequency of meetings will be driven by customers. "These customers are encouraged to engage in face-to-face interaction with our staff and discuss their needs," she says.
Ongoing staff training ensures a thorough understanding of the customers' banking needs, with lifestyle protection the core element.

"We aim at offering our customers good banking products that are supported by timely and accurate market insights. For this reason, our staff are given access to HSBC's views on the investment markets and financial outlook so as to keep their customers abreast of market trends," says Ms McDonagh.

Riding on an unrivalled global presence, HSBC is in an advantageous position to tap into this potential group of mid-market customers. "Our new banking initiatives will result in a growing market share," Ms McDonagh confirms, noting that HSBC Advance will be introduced to 39 markets by the end of this year.

Tricks of the trade

  • Tailored international banking service to tap into the emerging affluent segment
  • Global service platform and lifestyle protection are key elements
  • Informed staff keep customers up to speed with global trends

Taken from Career Times 12 March 2010, A4

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