Money Moves

Bank's support accelerates SME development

by Isabella Lee

Thomas Tsui, assistant general manager and head of business banking, Hang Seng Bank
Photo: Ringo Lee

In many ways, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represent the backbone of the Hong Kong economy. This explains why the government has established a number of financial schemes to help SMEs meet their capital needs and promote business development.

As a key lending institution, Hang Seng Bank is offering not just loans but also a comprehensive range of financial products and services to provide further impetus for SME growth.

"Less than 30 per cent of our business account holders require credit facilities, but all of them enjoy the tools we offer for everything from business finance services to cash management," says Thomas Tsui, assistant general manager and head of business banking. He adds that the bank's extensive branch network makes it possible to offer efficient trade services for SMEs and that many products and services are designated specifically for this sector. For example, there is a 24-hour manned SME hotline and a Business Partner Direct service to answer inquiries and simplify procedures, as well as a tailor-made "commercial card" to pay all types of business bills.

"This allows more efficient payment and greater financial flexibility," explains Mr Tsui. Card users can settle all their expenses on a monthly basis and receive consolidated statements stipulating total transactions, which give a clear picture of their overall business expenditure. They can also enjoy a long interest-free repayment period, preferential interest rates, cash advance facilities and an interest-free spending instalment plan.

"All these features provide SMEs with more efficient cash flow management and thus a better platform for business development by freeing up company resources," Mr Tsui says. He points out that Hang Seng Bank regards SMEs as business partners and is committed to building strong and long-lasting relationships with them.

"They can also streamline their company bookkeeping with the help of our specific accounting solutions," he notes. Account holders can make use of an online link to check on bank statements and the corresponding transactions with just a few clicks.

In addition, they can get assistance with handling staff payroll matters. This comes in the form of the bank's integrated autopay solution which takes care of salary payments and helps to generate employee tax returns.

"It is custom-made for Hong Kong SMEs, so during the Chinese New Year period, we can allow a temporary overdraft to help ease the cash flow for extra salary or bonus payments," Mr Tsui explains.

To cope with all these enhancements, the bank is continuing to strengthen its team of professional account managers and expects to recruit additional staff in this particular sector in 2007.

Taken from Career Times 15 December 2006, p. A2
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