HONG Leong Bank’s (HLB) commitment to the growth and sustainability of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the country has earned the bank the “Best SME Bank in Malaysia” award for four years running by the eminent The Asian Banker at its recent Retail Financial Services Awards 2022.
HLB was also named the “Best SME Bank in Malaysia” by the equally prestigious Asian Banking and Finance at its recent Retail Banking Awards 2022.
The awards, which are rigorously researched and include independent feedback given by the bank’s customers, recognise financial institutions that strive to innovate to provide bespoke top-tier products and services that suit their SME customers’ requirements.
Commenting on the double awards, Domenic Fuda, group managing director and chief executive officer of HLB in a statement said, “As SMEs have played an important role in the economic development and growth momentum of the country, they will equally play a pivotal role in the post-Covid-19 pandemic recovery.
“Being recognised for our continued commitment in supporting SMEs prior to the pandemic and being steadfast in our support during unprecedented challenging periods during the pandemic including the current recovery phase is especially meaningful.
“With similar product offerings across the industry, we believe that the real differentiator for us has been our people on the ground, and the relationships they help foster with clients and with the various SME communities across the country.
“Since reorganising our SME banking division in 2017, over the past four plus years we have embedded close to 200 community business managers (CBM) and cash, trade and FX specialists (CTFX) in various locations around the country to serve SMEs nationwide.
“This has proven to be a critical factor over the past two and half years as our team was able to proactively approach our customers with not only the assistance they needed to protect and sustain their businesses but also to provide them with the right level of advice.
“This encompasses financial products, digitalisation, ESG and sustainability, mentorship programmes and networking opportunities as they embarked on their recovery and sustainability journey post-pandemic.
“We will continue to invest in developing our CBM’s and CTFX’s capability to provide long-term support for the SMEs as they restrategise for post-pandemic growth.
“The recognition from these eminent organisations will no doubt motivate us to expand our resources and offerings so that we continue being a valued SME ecosystem partner,” added Fuda.
According to Kevin Ng, HLB’s head of SME Banking, another important differentiator for the bank is its digital-first strategy in the market.
Leveraging on digital innovation to provide SME clients with simple and frictionless experiences by digitalising processes into automated journeys, has helped the bank to serve customers more efficiently while rapidly acquiring new ones.
Among the many innovations introduced, HLB was the first bank in Malaysia to offer customers a fully digital onboarding experience via the bank’s web application and iPads, thereby eliminating the need for SMEs to visit a physical branch to open a business account.
With this,customers have the flexibility of choice to have the bank visit them in person to sign-up for a new account, via its in-house built sales and servicing iPad solution.
The bank also launched Malaysia’s first biometric-based mobile eToken providing greater levels of security for the Business Internet Banking platform, HLB ConnectFirst.
The mobile eToken provides convenience as it can be accessed via the customers’ smartphone instead of having to manage a separate token/dongle.
“From the onset of the pandemic in 2020, our approach of providing simple and frictionless experience for our customers has served us well as we have grown our SME banking portfolio by well over 20%.
“These awards would not have been possible if not for the strong trust and support our customers have given us.
“We will continue to invest in digital platforms as well as data and analytics capabilities to help our customers run their operations for improved profitability, growth and to be resilient and sustainable for the long term,” added Ng.