PETALING JAYA: HSBC Bank Malaysia Bhd remains committed to Malaysia and is planning its efforts to be the preferred international financial partner for its customers.

The move would not only strengthen one of Malaysia’s oldest banks in the competitive banking space, but it would also fuel its earnings growth in a challenging business environment.Datuk Omar Siddiq, CEO of HSBC Bank Malaysia Bhd

In an interview with StarBiz, the bank’s first Malaysian CEO, Datuk Omar Siddiq, said the country is central to HSBC Group’s strategy and crucial to its growth plans in Asean, a region that offers a significant growth potential for the bank.

“Our strategy itself supports our ambition to be our clients’ preferred international financial partner. To achieve our ambition, we direct our efforts by focusing on our strengths.

“This includes meeting the growing wealth needs of our clients and leveraging the reach and value of our global network for our corporate and institutional clients, while investing nationally.

“We also continuously invest in technology, inspiring a dynamic and inclusive culture and helping employees develop future-ready skills, and helping customers successfully transition to net zero,” he said. .

Elaborating on these initiatives, he said the multinational bank would intensify collaboration and cross-selling in different areas to meet the banking needs of personal and corporate customers.

Along with simplifying and optimizing processes to ensure efficiency, he said HSBC Malaysia will capitalize on its international network, a clear differentiator for the bank’s global business.

In October 2021, HSBC Malaysia signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Invest Penang to bring high quality foreign direct investment to Penang and Malaysia.

Last year, the bank also launched a collaboration with the UN Global Compact network in Malaysia and Brunei to build the sustainability capacity of middle market businesses.

Omar said he will continue to invest in technology to digitize on a large scale. In addition to creating and delivering fast and easy digital customer experiences, the bank would, among other things, forge partnerships with technology innovators to deliver new benefits to customers.

Earlier this year, as part of its commitment to the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector, HSBC Malaysia launched the HSBC Global Wallet, the country’s first multi-currency digital wallet that allows SMEs to quickly and securely secure transactions with their suppliers and customers around the world. .

“To develop, attract and retain talent, HSBC is building an inclusive organization that prioritizes well-being, invests in learning and careers and prepares our colleagues for the future of work.

“In Malaysia, HSBC’s move from Menara IQ to TRX reflects the bank’s commitment to the future of the working model, enabled by a hybrid working regime,” he noted.

Asked if there were plans to reduce its holdings or branches in the country, Omar said the bank was committed to its business in Malaysia.

He said a reflection of this commitment includes HSBC Malaysia’s US$250 million (RM1.13 billion) investment in its new Malaysian headquarters in the financial center of TRX.

The bank has invested US$40 million (RM180 million) from 2021 to 2023 to equip its branches with enhanced digital capabilities and new technologies, he noted.

This is in addition to the US$18 million (RM81 million) that has been invested from 2018 to 2020 to further develop innovative branch formats and champion new ways of serving customers while supporting their financial journeys.

Leveraging HSBC’s international connectivity, he said HSBC Malaysia will continue to build its capabilities in retail and corporate banking to drive business growth.

On key areas where banks would continue to play a major role, Omar said these included trade, investment and supply chains, digital, sustainability, wealth, Islamic finance and SMEs.

HSBC Malaysia recorded a commendable pre-tax profit of RM626 million for the first half of the financial year ended June 30, 2022, an increase of RM607 million compared to the corresponding period last year. Its pre-tax profit was RM19mil for the first half of last year.

For the period under review, the total balance sheet size increased by 5.6% or RM5 billion to reach RM94.6 billion from RM89.6 billion as of December 31, 2021.

HSBC Malaysia’s capital and liquidity coverage ratios remain strong and well above regulatory requirements. As of June 30, 2022, the bank’s capital ratio stood at 18.3% compared to 18.8% in December last year.

On the issue of sustainability, Omar noted that last September the government unveiled Malaysia’s target to become carbon neutral by 2050.

“Globally, HSBC is committed to, among other things, becoming a net zero bank, helping its customers transition to a low-carbon future, particularly in carbon-intensive industries, and accelerate new climate solutions,” he said.

He added that banks also have a key role to play as a support channel for SME working capital backed by a 100% government guarantee.

“This will be essential to revive SMEs. HSBC Malaysia’s approach has been to help customers build financial resilience rather than financial dependency.

“It helps customers recover faster and is key to building a sustainable future for the economy,” Omar said.

SMEs form the backbone of the Malaysian economy and currently account for 97.2% of the total number of business establishments, generating 38.2% of gross domestic product and employing 7.3 million people.