Our clear and consistent aim is to be the world’s best international bank, leading the way in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. We have a deep local knowledge with over 150 years’ presence in markets such as China, India, Hong Kong and Singapore; doing business in markets we know intimately, offering products we understand fully to customers with whom we have long-standing relationships is at the core of our strategy.
At its most basic level, our business is about helping people to buy goods and services, to save and invest, to buy homes and grow their wealth. It’s about helping companies to set up, to expand and to trade internationally. Our clients and customers know they can rely on us; we stand by them when times get tough, stay open for business and use our capital and liquidity to support them. Time and time again we have demonstrated this, including during the most recent global financial crisis.
We are able to support our clients and customers over the long term, because we run ourselves as One Bank with a conservative operating model and a focus on the basics of banking. We hold more customer deposits than loans in all our key markets, maintaining a high degree of liquidity, and we are strongly capitalised. Added to this, we have a proactive risk management approach, including a rigorous framework for managing environmental, social and governance risk, and keep a tight control of costs.
We operate across multiple countries, offering multiple products to multiple customer segments. Furthermore, our assets, liabilities and earnings are diversified across our two businesses, Wholesale Banking and Consumer Banking. This, underpinned by our conservative operating model, provides us with greater balance sheet and earnings resilience.
We have worked hard to develop the broad, cross-border products and capabilities that allow us to be an important bank to both our Wholesale Banking clients and our Consumer Banking customers, many of whom are served by both parts of our business. Generally, our banking model means that we can offer better products at a lower cost.
Our Consumer Banking business serves personal, premium, small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) and private banking customers to meet their requirements for trusted advice, borrowing, wealth management and transaction services. We have a strong focus on understanding and responding to our customers’ different requirements. This is reflected in our Customer Charter, our commitment to delivering needs-based solutions and service excellence. Rewarding customers who deepen their relationship with us is a key part of our approach.
We are a major trade bank; our unique footprint in Asia, Africa and the Middle East makes us ideally placed to support our clients in and around some of the world’s fastest-growing trade corridors. As clients expand their businesses regionally and internationally, we make use of our footprint to meet their needs in a seamless way.
The bedrock of our Wholesale Banking business is commercial banking, the basic lending, transactional banking and risk management services on which business depends. We view the Wholesale Banking services we provide in the form of a pyramid, with basic lending at its base; transactional products on the next level; value-added products, such as investment services and hedging, on the next level up; and strategic corporate finance products on top. The base addresses the fundamental working capital needs of the company, while the top affects its value and future. We aim to be competitive at all levels of the pyramid and thereby more relevant to our clients.
Banking in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, as elsewhere, comes with inevitable environmental, social and governance challenges. We don’t dodge trade-offs or tough decisions. Our approach is to engage proactively with our clients, governments and non-governmental organisations to influence outcomes positively. When providing finance to national, regional and multinational companies, we encourage progress towards international standards.
We are focused on doing things the right way. We will not seek to meet our clients’ needs with products we don’t understand or in markets with which we are unfamiliar. We have a clear strategy for what we won’t do, as well as what we will do.
Our commitment is to build a sustainable business as a bank, simultaneously creating long-term value for our shareholders, supporting our clients and making a positive social and economic contribution to the communities where we live and work.
For more information on our focus on the basics of banking, see our Annual Report and Accounts