Helping our customers in difficult times

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It seems like every day brings another gloomy headline about rising costs affecting businesses and individuals.

We spoke to HSBC’s Adam Belfield and Shibaji Dasgupta about how they seek to support their customers in times of financial difficulty.

Adam is the head of Wealth and Personal Banking, leading a team of 50 people, while Shibaji, more commonly known as “Shib”, is the head of Commercial Banking. Adam and Shib, who have just been appointed to their duties on the island, are also accused of being the “faces” of HSBC in the local community.

Regarding personal customers facing the rising cost of living, Adam says, “We are all feeling the impact of price increases, it is something we are acutely aware of and monitoring.

“It is important that we maintain a dialogue with our customers, especially during times of financial difficulty, to ensure that we are offering them the right products and services and that we also give them the opportunity to talk to us about areas and ways we can help them.

That, he goes on to explain, could be swapping out a trailing mortgage for a fixed mortgage to give customers some stability on what is likely their biggest debit, or possibly looking at consolidating other loan facilities including they dispose.

Adam continues: “In terms of the cost of living and how we help our clients, we need to think about that more broadly because it will be very different for someone who is working, with a mortgage and supporting a family versus someone. ‘one who has made his wealth and who wants to maintain his wealth and develop it.

“We are here to help everyone, knowing that everyone’s financial situation is very different.”

Shib, who leads a team of local relationship managers dealing with client companies, says, “It also fuels the businesses and we also spend a lot of time talking to our clients, understanding and learning about their business.

“What impact does inflation have on your business and, therefore, on your customers? What is your position in the market? And what are your supply chain challenges? »

“Also, as prices increase with inflation, so do wage demands, and these are constant conversations we have with our customers, to ensure that we are providing the services that best meet their needs. “

“Adam and I always talk about what’s happening in the business world, what’s happening in the personal community, to make sure we’re really on top of the challenges the island is facing and how we can support our customers. , whether local or international, or both.

HSBC’s international outlook and global network have always made it attractive to business customers. It can help a company establish itself in a country where the business culture is completely different from ours.

“My job is to bring this international network to our clients on the Isle of Man. For a business, your local relationship manager is the gateway to HSBC’s global network.

“We are a truly global, globally connected bank that understands and values ​​the different cultures and communities in the 64 countries and territories where we are based. Our local managers around the world help clients approach each market from a unique perspective. both commercial and cultural.

“It’s great that we can support our customers globally in this way.”

Another priority issue for HSBC is the environment which will increasingly affect business customers, both locally and internationally.

Last year, the Isle of Man government borrowed £400million to cover a range of major national projects, including ‘clean transport, energy efficiency, affordable housing, education and care’ health”.

The money was raised in the form of a bond issue, the Isle of Man’s first ‘sustainable’ or ‘green’ bond. HSBC has partnered with the Treasury to structure the Sustainable Finance Framework which provides the criteria for the projects for which this bond is intended.

Shib says, “The benefit of working with the local community is that you can see the difference it will make.

And he continues: “HSBC, as a bank, is committed, together with its suppliers, to achieving net zero by 2030. In partnership with our customers, we use our expertise, scale and global reach to helping businesses, governments and institutions achieve their net-zero ambition. Working with the Isle of Man Government is a great example of how the financial sector can lead the way in helping to build an inclusive and prosperous society and a more sustainable future for all.

It’s fair to say that many people still view the concept of “net carbon” with some cynicism. For example, if a company with subsidiaries in the United Kingdom and the United States, for example, claims to have reduced its carbon emissions by 20%, has it done so by all or the 20% that quoting in the UK the same 20% as it is quoting in the United States?

Transparency is key, says Shib: “It’s important for every company to be fully transparent about how and where they are supporting the net zero transition, so that customers and communities understand what commitment is being made and how this commitment has a positive effect. environmental impact.

For the bank’s small business customers, green loans are available, from £30,000 and up, for projects such as switching to electric vehicles.

HSBC’s green loans for personal customers were also launched last year and the bank has partnered with the Manx Wildlife Trust, donating to the trust for the planting of trees and hedges whenever a customer takes out a green loan.

Adam says: “The loan could be used to insulate their home or buy an electric car, and customers can also invest in funds that meet certain environmental and social governance criteria.

Employee wellbeing is another thing that is high on the bank’s agenda, whether it’s diversity and inclusion or supporting mental wellbeing.

As in many other organizations, many bank employees are now working from home or working in a more hybrid and flexible way.

And, for HSBC’s operations in the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, it added another dimension and opportunity.

Adam says: “HSBC has always supported flexible working, even before the pandemic. And where historically some roles might have been based in Jersey, the focus is now on who is the best individual across all of our three islands, wherever they are based.

And, as Shib points out, many people are happier with a hybrid work model, and on days when they work from home they also use less gas, which is good for the environment.

He adds: “What the pandemic has forced us to achieve, let’s keep the good bits.”

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