Five minutes with… HSBC
WELL done HSBC for coming up trumps and agreeing to throw your doors open to cashy!
We sat down with Rick Crossman, head of retail banking and wealth management for HSBC in the UAE, to find out the bank’s policy on everything from cold calling to complaints. Listen up…
How long have you been in the Middle East?
HSBC is the largest and most widely-represented international bank in the region, with unbroken presence for over 65 years. The Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) is an important market for the bank’s retail banking and wealth management business, with a strong potential for growth in the area of wealth management.
How big is this market for you? How many customers do you have here?
The MENA region is a core part of HSBC’s emerging market strategy. We recognise the fundamentals of the region – hydrocarbon wealth, young and growing demographic, high numbers of high net worth individuals, increasing international connectivity of the region – and have positioned the business to take advantage of these.
How does your product offering differ for consumers here compared to those in other parts of the world?
In general, our products and services are in alignment with the regulatory guidelines of the Central Bank of UAE and our regulator, the Jersey Financial Services Commission. For certain other product categories we have to comply with regulations stipulated by other governing bodies of the country we operate in.
A key part of our retail banking and wealth management strategy is to leverage our global expertise in retail banking through standardising banking propositions globally. This allows us to deliver consistent quality and reliable financial solutions to our customers wherever they bank with us.
We realise customers vary from market to market and therefore also regularly undertake research here in the UAE. This research helps to ensure our products are matched to the needs of our customers. For instance, we offer a Shariah-compliant personal finance option for customers who have a preference for Shariah-compliant products. We also offer lower priced, shorter tenure loans specifically to help customers meet short-term financing needs such as rent, school fees, holidays and furnishings.
What would you say makes your bank unique?
Global connectivity remains one of our key differentiators and HSBC Premier is our flagship retail banking and wealth management offering that is uniquely placed to provide a truly global experience.
It provides our customers in MENA with an exceptional banking service and worldwide recognition – one that can be accessed from anywhere in the world, wherever they choose to live, work or simply visit.
Our Global View and Global Transfer online services for HSBC Premier and Advance are also extremely popular. Global View allows Premier and Advance customers to link HSBC accounts based in multiple countries together and view and manage them from one place, while Global Transfers enables them to make real-time transfers between linked accounts based in different countries as long as the accounts are held in the customer’s name.
These services give customers a new level of control and convenience when managing money around the world, helping them to build and manage wealth easily wherever they may be.
How do you sell your products? Do you cold call?
We sell our products and propositions through multiple channels. We carefully target customers based on an assessment of their needs. Any proactive calls to existing customers are managed in accordance with prevailing regulations and customer’s consent. We don’t make outbound calls to non-customers to solicit business.
What’s your complaints procedure?
We take customer complaints very seriously and investigate them thoroughly to identify where we can improve. We have an established customer experience unit that oversees all customer complaints from initiation to resolution, ensuring these are resolved as quickly as possible and customers are kept updated of developments. We are cognizant of the fact that sometimes customers can get fairly impatient and frustrated when reporting complaints. We ensure that our customer experience team is well-trained to handle complainants and deal with them sensitively and politely.
Customers in the UAE can raise a complaint through the website, our contact centre or branches, while Premier customers can also contact their relationship manager.
Internally within the bank, we aim to address complaints at grassroots level. An internal complaints governance council monitors complaints on a weekly basis to identify any systemic patterns and resolve them at the core. I head this council personally and report regularly to the top management on developments and resolutions.
To what extent have you had problems with product mis-selling?
As a responsible and prudent financial services provider, HSBC has strong controls and quality measures in place to pre-empt and avoid mis-selling. Being a bank of global scale, we make every endeavor to have best-in-class training for our teams to ensure we are offering the right product to the right customer. We place high importance on ensuring we offer customers’ products and services that meet their financial needs and risk profile.
Recently, we introduced a state-of-the-art financial planning tool that aims to provide thorough guidance to our customers on their interim and long-term financial goals. The financial planning process helps customers understand their risk profile and allows us to offer them the right products for their financial needs.
How do you deal with people who are behind on debt repayments?
HSBC always seeks to find a mutually agreeable solution with any customer facing difficulty with their financial obligations. We have a variety of solutions to offer and listen to the customer, understand the problem and propose the right solution for them. Some customers are worried and may be reluctant to contact us. However, we would always recommend that they call us as soon as possible. Our experience is that early contact gives us a much better opportunity to help the customer.
What are you doing to help customers who are in financial difficulty?
We support customers in financial distress through our highly specialized remedial unit. We offer various debt relief tools for customers with an evident lack of ability to meet their financial obligations. A thorough investigation is conducted to ascertain the merit of a case and then our specially trained team works with customers to find a solution. The products range from mortgages to credit cards and personal situations vary from loss of job to illness. Very often the customer is in a transition period to the next job. If any cashy users are in this situation we would encourage them to contact us and we will work with them to find a solution and remove any anxiety that they may have.
What do you do when you know a cheque will bounce?
As a norm it is not possible for the bank to know if a cheque will bounce. For other bank cheques, we do not know the result of the cheque until 5.30pm when the clearing takes place and a report is generated from the clearing bank system. As for our own cheques, whether deposited through a teller or a machine, again there is no mandated process to find out in advance if a cheque would decline prior to processing the document.
How often do you instigate legal action, and has this increased since the credit crunch?
HSBC abides by the law in each of the countries in which it operates, and the UAE with its robust laws governing personal debt is no exception.
How do you engage with the public? Do you care what people think?
Through participation in public forums, and through media such as yours, we aim to create awareness about responsible debt management and the merits of financial planning.
We are also Platinum members of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce Sustainability Network and continue to collaborate with them on developing financial literacy programs for the wider community.
Do you bank with HSBC? Share your views and experiences with us...