SINGAPORE — Banking heavyweight HSBC sees Singapore as a critical market with key opportunities in corporate banking and wealth management, group chief executive Noel Quinn said on Monday.
“We have the ambition to significantly expand our business here in Singapore. We know there is very strong competition – and strong competition is good – but we want to continue to grow (the business),” he added.
The London-based lender’s big boss was in town for the official opening of HSBC Singapore’s new headquarters in Tower 2 of the Marina Bay Financial Centre.
Staff moved from the bank’s former home at 21 Collyer Quay – its first office in Singapore – and moved into a space of more than 140,000 square feet in April 2020. The new office occupies the top seven floors of the 50-story Marina Bay Tower.
HSBC has 4,000 local employees, some of whom are deployed to its other offices in Mapletree Business City which house business functions such as retail banking.
Mr Quinn said Singapore is a key pillar of HSBC’s growth strategy in Asia, and the bank will leverage the city-state’s strengths as a regional hub for managing wealth, cash , innovation and sustainability.
“Singapore is a very welcoming market. It’s one of the most professional regulatory environments I see in the world… It’s a collaborative environment between regulators and government, in partnership with business,” he told About 200 HSBC executives and bankers at Monday’s opening ceremony.
HSBC said in 2021 it would invest $6 billion in Asia over the next few years, with half going to Southeast Asia and India, and the rest to Hong Kong and China.
The bank aims to double its wealth management business in Singapore by 2025 and is also targeting double-digit growth in its commercial banking business here. It completed its acquisition of AXA Singapore this year in a deal that is expected to double its share of the local life insurance market.
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, who was the guest of honor at Monday’s event, said HSBC had grown its local workforce by 16% over the past few years and had also grown focused on the development of its employees and provided them with a global experience.
Over 200 Singaporeans currently work for HSBC overseas, some of whom hold senior regional positions. Among the local executives who have assumed senior positions upon their return home are HSBC Singapore Managing Director Wong Kee Joo, who has spent most of his career with the bank overseas – in China, in Thailand and Hong Kong.
“Global mobility is essential for every multinational workforce,” said Mr. Heng, who urged the bank to continue nurturing more globally-ready talent, including Singaporeans.
Mr Wong said: “Today Singapore is open for business post-pandemic, so we wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate this milestone which marks a new chapter for HSBC in Singapore.”
The history and progress of the bank mirrors that of the city-state, he added, noting how the society provided loans and basic banking services to traders and financed import, export trade and warehouse when it moved here in 1877.
“Now, in 2022, Singapore has grown increasingly to become Asia’s premier financial hub and one of the world’s top three financial hubs, leading the way not just in traditional asset classes, but in the areas of wealth, digitalization and thought leadership in sustainability.”