Hong Kong's best domestic bank 2018: Hang Seng Bank
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Hong Kong's best domestic bank 2018: Hang Seng Bank

Hang Seng Bank

Louisa Cheang, Vice Chairman and Chief Executive, Hang Seng Bank.jpg
Louisa Cheang, Hang Seng Bank

Hang Seng Bank is in no doubt what it is here for and who it serves – no small fact in an age when many lenders struggle for a sense of identity and direction. 

Its parent HSBC Holdings is the big global name, but Hang Seng Bank, led by chief executive Louisa Cheang, is Hong Kong’s bank, and its 10,000-plus full-time employees serve at least half of the city’s adult residents through more than 270 branches. Loved by customers and respected by peers, it is integral to what makes Hong Kong what it is, a city crammed with world-class manufacturing and service firms, many based over the border.

Net interest income at its commercial banking division, which supports an army of innovative small and medium-sized enterprises, rose 15% in 2017 to $900 million, with operating profit up 18%. Its mainland operations now include 50 branches, mostly in the Pearl River Delta and Shanghai, a fund management joint venture and a securities investment advisory outfit.

Its market capitalization hit $48 billion in May 2018, buoyed by a share price flirting with the HK$200 ($25) mark and ensuring a place on the list of the world’s 50 largest lenders. Its finances are in great shape; it reported record operating profit in 2017 of HK$23.5 billion, up 24% year on year, and net interest income of HK$24.6 billion. Its wealth management business continues to grow, with income jumping 33% in 2017, to HK$8.8 billion.

It is also one of the most stable banks around, solid and generous to shareholders. Hang Seng Bank boasted a tier-1 capital ratio of 17.7% at the end of 2017, and a return on equity and assets of 14.2% (against 12.6% a year ago) and 1.4% (up from 1.2%), respectively.

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