HSBC’S new regional head of global private banking, Tan Siew Meng, brings a unique perspective to the role
Tan Siew Meng is no ordinary private banker. HSBC’S new regional head of global private banking for the Asia-pacific has spent more than 30 years dealing with corporate clients and business owners across Asia, and brings to the role an intimate understanding of the practical issues they face on a day-to-day basis.
From starting out in corporate banking in Singapore to running HSBC’S regional trade finance business, she has spent most of her career dealing directly with entrepreneurs and decision-makers. Having helped them grow their businesses, she is now focused on helping them grow and protect their private wealth.
“When you’re granting a commercial loan it’s about understanding the client’s business and where their risk comes,” she says. “After all these years of working very closely with clients and helping them, we become a partner. Through our diligence in getting to know how their business works, we protect ourselves and we protect them as well. That’s my background.”
Tan joined HSBC 13 years ago in the global banking business in Singapore, providing financial services and products to multinational corporations, large local businesses and Temasek- and government-linked companies. Having developed strong relationships in that role, she moved on to running the commercial banking business in Singapore and from there she was promoted to her first country-head role as chief executive for Mauritius, an important offshore financial centre, and then chief executive for Thailand, home to some of Southeast Asia’s most successful businesses and entrepreneurs. This impressive career path led to her most recent position as Asia-pacific regional head of trade finance—a business that HSBC dominates globally—and, in January, to her current role at HSBC Private Banking.
This is not the conventional route to the senior ranks of one of the world’s biggest private banks— HSBC Private Banking has US$298 billion of total client assets under management globally—but Asia is not the typical private banking market. A large proportion of the bank’s private clients in Asia are first- or second-generation wealth creators whose businesses have long relationships with HSBC, or who work in senior positions at major global corporations that bank with HSBC.
Growth Another characteristic of Asia is that the region is still creating wealth at a faster rate than anywhere else in the world and continues to offer attractive growth opportunities underpinned by strong domestic demand, positive structural reform progress, monetary and fiscal easing, and favourable demographics. As a result, Asian businesses are resilient to cyclical volatility in the global economy.
“Wealth is growing at a single-digit rate globally, but in Asia we’re seeing double-digit growth,” says Tan. “This accumulation of wealth is coming from entrepreneurs whose businesses are growing very well, so there’s a lot of opportunity—and it plays to our strengths.”
HSBC’S edge is a universal banking platform that leverages its dominant footprint in the region, particularly in the corporate banking world that Tan has such a deep connection to. The group has spent close to a decade developing a culture of collaboration across its platform—retail, commercial, investment and private banking—to make sure that its group-connected clients are offered a seamless service that meets all their banking and financial needs.
“It sounds very simple, but it takes time to get it to work,” says Tan. “The goal is to make sure that we know the clients as well as possible and that we’re supporting them fully.”
Next Generation Part of that support means providing guidance to families, and especially the next generation.
“We are well positioned to help those firstgeneration entrepreneurs who need advice on how to pass on their wealth,” says Tan. “But we are also there for the family members who will inherit that wealth. Our Next Generation programme gives younger family members the opportunity to explore and debate their future roles as family leaders,