Financial Planning / Wealth Management

Home-grown institution embraces heritage and innovation

by Sophie Leung

Stephen Wong, deputy general manager and head of retail banking division
Wing Hang Bank Limited
Photo: Edde Ngan

Local bank continues to foster long-term client relationships while expanding its services to keep up with the dynamic business environment

It takes outstanding service and the test of time to build up a highly esteemed and successful banking institution.

With a long history in the local market, Wing Hang Bank Limited has become a Hong Kong household name, operating more than 50 branches and representative offices across the city, as well as Macau and mainland China.

"We are proud of entering our 71st year," says Stephen Wong, the bank's deputy general manager and head of retail banking. Wing Hang Bank's relationship with its customers proves that the bank provides more than just basic financial services - it stresses a personal touch to foster long-term relationships benefiting both parties.

"It is not unusual for our partnerships with some corporate clients to last for 30 years or more," Mr Wong notes. "In some instances, it is a case of a grandson inheriting not only a business from his grandfather, but also his trust in us as a long-term partner."

Many businesspeople value their long history with Wing Hang Bank, but the finance house is also determined to keep pace with fast-changing customer needs and expectations. "Nobody else understands our clients' needs better than we do," Mr Wong explains. "Armed with the necessary industry know-how and our client profiles, we continuously introduce new services and quality products."

Exploring new frontiers

Wing Hang Bank maintains a reputation for innovation and goes to great lengths to explore new areas of business as part of its commitment to quality service.

"We were one of the first local banks to provide a foreign currency deposit service in the 1980s," Mr Wong notes. "We were also among the first to make foreign exchange transactions available to customers from nine o'clock Hong Kong time until the close of the New York market. "These services are still popular among our retail customers because we offer preferential interest rates and narrow exchange rate spreads, and it helps to maximise their returns."

The bank took its service a step further when it listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 1993. It also offers innovative financial products operating in a high-inflation and low-interest environment with an aim to offer services and products that satisfy customer expectations, and also to consistently improve its delivery platform. "We were among the first banks to offer an automatic telephone banking service in the late 80's, and we expanded our delivery channel to include the internet at the turn of the millennium," Mr Wong points out.

As a trusted business partner to many small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the bank strengthened its corporate banking SME customer base by its acquisition of Chekiang First Bank in 2004 and a subsequent expansion of the branch network. "Many business owners and top executives among our corporate clients also entrust their personal finances to us. Their confidence in our professionalism motivates our team to strive for service excellence," adds Mr Wong.

Excellent communication

A recent customer satisfaction survey showed that Wing Hang Bank scores high on service professionalism and that its clients regard the bank's staff as trustworthy and approachable.

"Our customers enjoy seeing familiar faces when they visit our branches. They know that they can always rely on us," Mr Wong explains. Wing Hang Bank provides easy access to customer service representatives, and a one-stop service for elite customers. "Instead of juggling with different departments, they can go to one person for all their financial needs," adds Mr Wong.

The bank conducts an annual service quality feedback programme and ensures that frontline staff and people working in supporting departments meet regularly, in order to improve communication and service.

"Our human resources are our greatest assets, as they represent our vision of service excellence. If our employees are happy, so are our customers," Mr Wong notes, adding that the bank followed a no-lay-off policy when it took over Chekiang First Bank.

To ensure that all staff understand and adhere to the bank's core values, Wing Hang Bank has in place a tailored training programme. Staff retention is a priority, and turnover is maintained at a comparatively low rate, so the bank has been able to cultivate an experienced team of professionals.

The bank also encourages staff to take part in competitions such as the HKIB Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards. "The exposure is vital for employees' professional development, as such competitions provide them with an opportunity to learn from others," Mr Wong concludes.


Taken from Career Times 22 August 2008
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