HSBC has unveiled a new members-only programme for its high-net-worth clients in Singapore, bucking a trend for Western banks to pull back from the Asian HNWI market, which is increasingly being looked after by locally-based specialists.
One potentially significant difference, though, is that although it’s headquartered in London, HSBC’s roots actually happen to be in Asia, as its original name – Hongkong Shanghai Banking Corporation – suggests.
The new specialist service for Singaporean HNWIs, called Jade by HSBC Premier, was launched in the city-state earlier this week. It offers what the bank refers to as “select HSBC Singapore Premier customers” who meet a set of criteria, including maintaining more than S$1.2m (US$832,000, £668,600) in cash and investments with the bank, free access to range of specialist services of the kind that wealthy individuals might be expected to need and/or desire.
These, the bank says, include the use of a high-end concierge service called Quintessentially, which helps clients with such “lifestyle needs” as travel, art, entertainment, education and property; a “dedicated Jade mobile app” for 24/7 access to Quintessentially’s team of ‘lifestyle managers’; special “lifestyle offers” from such HSBC “global partners” as Etihad Airways, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, mytheresa.com and Small Luxury Hotels of the WorldTM; and such in-house HSBC services as a dedicated senior relationship manager – responsible for providing Jade clients with personalised banking services – and access to HSBC’s own market and economic research.
Through Jade, members will also be able to access HSBC Premier’s events world-wide, including its sponsored tournaments, which feature top players or teams in golf, rugby and tennis, HSBC said.
HNWIs ‘a target market for HSBC’
In unveiling the Jade scheme, HSBC said it showed the bank’s interested in catering for what it said was an increasingly affluent Singaporean and Southeast Asian marketplace.
Explained HSBC Singapore’s head of Customer Value Management, in a statement announcing the launch of the Jade service: “High-net-worth individuals are a target market for HSBC’s retail banking business, and Jade has been created specifically with this segment in mind.
“As our Jade customers have differing needs and preferences when it comes to their investing, we understand the importance of providing a more personalised and customised banking experience. So having access to high quality financial advice from product specialists and wealth advisers is valued.
“We also understand that managing their finances is not the end goal for these customers – it’s about getting their kids the right international education, or taking their family on unique holiday experiences, or having local knowledge if they’re buying a house at home or abroad.”
HSBC Singapore’s launch of the Jade service is the latest in a number of recent introductions aimed at boosting the company’s offering for its Singaporean and Southeast Asian clients. In June 2015, the bank introduced something called NETs for its debit cards, and revamped several of its main Singapore branches, including Holland Village and Plaza Singapura. Most recently, in November, it introduced Apple Pay.
Also in November, HSBC announced plans to open an office in Australia, and to expand its private banking presence in Asia-Pacific generally. It said its private banking business in Australia would be headed up by Hayden Matthews, who would “work closely with our private banking teams in Hong Kong and Singapore”.
Asia-Pacific’s ‘challenging’ HNWI banking market
As reported here earlier this week, the combined wealth of more than five million high-net-worth individuals in the Asia-Pacific region hit US$17.4trn by the end of last year, surpassing total net wealth held in North America for the first time, according to the most recent Capgemini World Wealth Report.
At the same time, though, as Asian Private Banker’s most recent survey of assets under management revealed, total client assets at the top 20 private banks in the region actually fell last year, for the first time since 2012, reflecting the difficulties in catering successfully for the Asian HNW client.
The challenges for Western banks in the region in particular, as International Investment‘s private banking specialist Paul Golden noted in his story earlier this week, include the fact that there are already a number of well-established local banks servicing the Asian market, and convincing even HNWIs to move out of these can require significant and costly efforts on the part of the Western banks. The fact that regulations have increased bankers’ costs significantly everywhere is seen as another major factor.
The recent introduction of tax amnesty programmes in a couple of key Asian countries is also said to have hit some Asian banks hard, as it has resulted in some significant amounts of money being repatriated to home country banks from institutions in such financial centres as Singapore, ahead of the implementation of a new global automatic information reporting scheme known as the Common Reporting Standard.
Branch network consolidation
Back home in the UK, meanwhile, a consumer organisation, Which?, reported this past week that HSBC had closed 321 branches, or 27% of its UK network, since January 2015, citing the fact that clients no longer make much use of branches, preferring to bank instead via the internet or on their smartphones. The closures out HSBC at the top of the Which? league table for branch closures over the two-year period, although certain other banks with fewer branches closed a larger percentage of their total branches.