Pedestrians pass an HSBC Holdings Plc bank branch. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Dubai: The UAE is one of the best retail banking markets for HSBC across its global operations and the bank is committed to long-term growth in the country, Marwan Hadi, head of retail banking and wealth management in the UAE, told Gulf News in an interview.

Although there have been reports of slowing or stagnation in private sector job market, Hadi said HSBC has not experienced any slowdown in customer acquisitions in all segments, especially in the premium category.

Focused approach

Targeting the banking needs of business customers in the country, HSBC is launching a new premium proposition called ‘HSBC Jade’. The bank currently has three segments with Premier for those with salaries of Dh50,000 and above; Advance between Dh15,000 and Dh50,000 and Personal Banking for those with less than Dh15,000.

HSBC Jade will be a new proposition offering a unique combination of personalised relationship management, sophisticated wealth solutions and luxury lifestyle services to support the needs of high-net-worth clients. It is a distinctive offering for customers with a net worth of over $1 million and complex investment needs.

“The UAE will be the eighth market in which the Jade proposition is launched, and we expect to gain market share in the high-net-worth individual (HNWI) segment,” said Hadi.

Customers in this segment will be serviced by a Jade Director, who will manage banking needs as well as more complex investment needs of the customer.

Jade customers will have access to the recently-launched Investment Financing facility, which offers a line of credit against investments. If a customer has investments with the bank in mutual funds and/or bonds, they can avail a line of credit at preferential interest rates.

Digital push

Last September, HSBC launched its first digitally-driven customer service unit (CSU) at Mirdif City Centre, which features a digital interaction rate of 80 per cent — empowering customers though self-service facilities.

The all-digital branch has a paper-free environment for customers, with service staff equipped with customised smartwatches to alert them when a customer needs help, and with requests activated by SMS.

By using tablets and touchscreens to fill out digital e-forms, customers can open a new account and apply for a credit card instantly. Any signatures required are recorded digitally on tablets.

The bank has recently opened another one at the HSBC Tower at Emaar Square. Further enhanced digital functionalities are expected in 2020.

This year, the retail bank has more than doubled its digital investments from last year in the UAE and is re-platforming all its digital capabilities that includes the launch of a new mobile app, new internet banking and a new website. All these three together will bring HSBC UAE in line with the Group’s global digital platforms. Across the world, the bank has promised to invest $15 billion to $17 billion in “growth and technology.”

The digital investments are aimed at making all origination as well as after service available on self-service digital platforms.

Currently, the customer acquisitions through digital channels are relatively low, in single digits. “However, digital engagement is very high, and we expect the digital origination and acquisitions to pick up pace in the next phase of our digital journey,” he said.

Frontline growth

Last year, the bank targeted a ten per cent growth in its frontline staff, mostly relationship managers (RMs) and officers, and kept up with these targets. This year, the plan is to grow 13 to 15 per cent.

“I think this goes in line with the positive sentiment we have. Some of the negative sentiments we hear in the market are temporary. We are here for the long term and have to live through cycles,” Hadi said.