Even though HSBC has been operating in the Cayman Islands for 22 years, it only recently obtained a Class A banking licence to support its launch into retail banking services. HSBC Cayman began offering Corporate Banking services to customers in April 2008 and this was followed by the launch of the HSBC Group’s renowned Premier service in October. Business Editor, Lindsey Turnbull speaks with management at HSBC to see what’s on offer for clients of the newest retail banking operation in the Cayman Islands.
Globally, banking is heading into a new direction. The big Wall Street and City of London names with which we are so familiar have either been bought out, consolidated or are simply shadows of their former selves. Few big name, global financial institutions have come through this current financial crisis unscathed, yet HSBC, which markets itself as the “world’s local bank”, seems to have ridden the storm remarkably well. Indeed, management at their newly opened Cayman branch says that the Bank has managed to turn the global downturn into new business.
Locally, retail banking is also taking a new direction. For those customers who meet the right criteria, the quality of the banking service has definitely been taken up a gear, as local retail operations across the board focus on providing a more personalised, high quality service.
HSBC Cayman is currently focusing on its two new spheres of business, Corporate Banking and HSBC Premier, a relationship-managed, global banking service for personal customers. Providing such a service here makes Cayman the 41st jurisdiction globally in which HSBC’s Premier banking service is available to its customers, and the first in the Caribbean.
Corporate Banking is currently a strong area of attention for HSBC Cayman. Mark McIntyre, Head of Corporate Banking says the primary focus is on domestic lending opportunities and servicing the needs of local corporate clients, international businesses and multi-national corporations.
He states, “We are especially sensitive to the needs of companies with a global footprint and corporate clients who are multi-jurisdictional in terms of their operations, who require a presence and access to local banking facilities. We are now excited to be able to leverage the HSBC global network and provide entities with existing HSBC relationships a wide offering that now includes corporate banking capabilities here in the Cayman Islands.”
He continues, “HSBC has been in the Cayman Islands for 22 years, providing captive insurance, fund administration and trust services for clients. With our Class A banking licence, it is our aim to strengthen and deepen existing relationships, and at the same time create new ones while generally expanding our reach.”
Enhancements to the service offering for Corporate Banking clients in Cayman include the Bank’s ability to draw on the experience and capabilities of HSBC’s global network, especially in terms of Global Asset Management and some back-office processing.
McIntyre says, “We are a team of five, soon to be six, individuals who are seasoned relationship managers and/or associates, who provide a highly professional, personalised service to our corporate customers. With our emphasis on local recruitment, the Bank has benefited greatly from the team’s existing relationships with several key business introducers on the island, including other captive managers, law firms, accountants, liquidators and real estate companies/developers. These, in addition to our Group referrals, mean a strong base from which we are already operating.”
The financing of real estate development is an important aspect to HSBC’s corporate banking business and McIntyre says they are looking forward to forging excellent relations with the local real estate industry to assist with the building of Cayman. Furthermore, he confirms that HSBC anticipates playing an active role when tenders are requested for Government capital infrastructure projects such as the proposed George Town Port expansion, as well as other existing projects like the Owen Roberts Airport expansion.
“We aim to be associated with signature projects in Cayman,” McIntyre confirms. “Although phase one of our launch is focused on Corporate Banking opportunities, as we build critical mass at HSBC Cayman, we anticipate offering services to mid-sized and smaller commercial enterprises as well.”
A Premier service
Personal customers attracted to the global name and breadth of service provided by HSBC now have the chance to avail themselves here in Cayman, with HSBC’s Premier banking service. Offered free to eligible customers (i.e. those holding a mortgage of CI$400,000 or more with HSBC or deposits of CI$100,000) or for a fee of CI$120 per month, customers can enjoy a level of service which, says, Andrew Jamieson, Head of Personal Financial Services at HSBC Cayman, takes personal banking to new levels.
He says, “The service that we are able to offer here in the Cayman Islands is the same superior level customers can experience at any of the 300 HSBC Premier centres around the globe.”
The key to the service quality offered by HSBC Cayman is, according to Jamieson, its global reach via a top-of-the-range technological infrastructure.
“Our Personal Internet Banking Service provides customers with an overview of their financial position across the globe. This global view provides a platform for customers to seamlessly make financial transactions from one account to another. As long as the movement of funds takes place within same named HSBC Premier accounts, the transfer of funds is free,” he states.
Tailored to high-volume users of banking services, Jamieson says the Premier banking service is perfectly suited to customers with multi-jurisdictional banking needs.
He says, “It’s the perfect banking solution for those who are relocating to new countries, persons who make regular business or other trips abroad, or simply for individuals with non-international needs, who appreciate the personal touch, with their own Premier Relationship Manager dedicated to providing a best in class customer experience.
Once the due diligence is completed in Cayman, opening accounts in other jurisdictions where HSBC operates will be straightforward, taking the hassle out of banking for our clients.”
He continues, “No other banking group has the global capabilities of the HSBC Group. The Premier Banking offering is now in 41 countries and growing steadily, so customers can expect the same level of service wherever they go.”
Jamieson says that even with the current global economic downturn, HSBC is already seeing a flurry of activity with new customers who are attracted to the security and stability of one of the world’s largest banks.
To ensure that HSBC Cayman staff are able to offer excellent levels of service parallel to their peers in other jurisdictions, the relationship managers in Premier banking (of which there are five in Cayman) have all undergone HSBC training undertaken by staff globally who are providing a Premier banking service.
“A uniformity of service is critical to our ability to provide the service seamlessly,” Jamieson confirms. “They are able to understand the complex banking needs of our customers and can draw upon the expertise locally, as well as globally, to ensure that customers’ requirements are fully met.”
He confirms that HSBC Premier customers from abroad have already availed themselves of this worldwide banking service, in the few short weeks that the Premier service has been operational in Cayman.
Jamieson explains, “We have had a number of visitors who are HSBC Premier clients come to us having lost wallets and purses and have requested emergency cash during their stay in Cayman. As a Group we have a directory of all our Premier banking customers worldwide, so after passing through security checks the customers were able to access emergency cash from us. It’s just an example of how our global reach can provide a service that is unbeatable.”