Hong Kong's best domestic bank 2020: Hang Seng Bank
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Hong Kong's best domestic bank 2020: Hang Seng Bank

Hang Seng Bank

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

Hang Seng, led by chief executive and vice-chairwoman Louisa Cheang, pays close attention to customer behaviour, and this has helped it to prosper in Hong Kong’s highly competitive retail banking market.

Last year, for instance, the bank unveiled digitally enabled branches in Hong Kong. These provide e-ticketing for counter services so that customers do not need to queue up inside the branch, and digital service bars where they can get help moving more of their banking online.

Those efforts worked in its favour this year when social distancing measures were enforced after the coronavirus outbreak and numerous branches were shut for months.

The bank takes customer feedback seriously. Hang Seng’s survey of about 1,000 Hong Kong customers showed that the majority still used a notebook or a computer spreadsheet to manage their personal finances, mainly because of a lack of user-friendly digital book-keeping tools.

In March, Hang Seng held a soft launch of an in-app savings and budgeting tool, linking its clients’ income and savings goals directly with their Hang Seng bank and credit card accounts, thus saving them the job of manually entering each of their expenses. This has been a particular benefit for the bank’s army of small and medium-sized enterprise clients and entrepreneurs, offering them an efficient way to manage their finances.

Hang Seng’s overall business fired on all cylinders in 2019. Operating profits rose 2% last year to HK$28.6 billion ($3.7 billion), while earnings per share were up 2% as well to HK$12.77. Net operating income jumped 6% and net interest income 7%. Wealth and personal banking grew, as did commercial banking and global banking.

The bank’s capital levels are in decent shape too. Common equity tier-1, tier-1 and total capital ratios stood at 16.9%, 18.7% and 20.8% respectively, in 2019, putting Hang Seng ahead of its peer, Bank of East Asia, which reported ratios of 15.6%, 18.4% and 20.4% respectively.

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