Sri Lanka's best bank for SMEs 2019: Hatton National Bank
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Sri Lanka's best bank for SMEs 2019: Hatton National Bank

Hatton National Bank

Jonathan Alles, MD and CEO, Hatton National Bank (HNB).jpg
Jonathan Alles, HNB

Hatton National Bank describes itself as a pioneer in small and medium-sized enterprise banking in Sri Lanka, and so it is. Most of the island’s lenders take the segment seriously, but no financial institution onshore does it as well, or as comprehensively.

Each year, HNB adds many new services that cater specifically to its clientele, and tweaks and improves a dozen more. HNB boasts 10 hubs for small enterprises dotted around the country, employing 39 dedicated relationship managers and serving 51,000 SMEs.

Small enterprises are the lifeblood of the lender. In the first nine months of 2018, SMEs accounted for 31% of bank-wide net interest income, 16% of deposits, and 32% of all loans, with term loans and overdrafts combining to make up 64% of the lending mix, followed by leases and development loans (both 11%).

When HNB announces an upgrade or a new service, you can be sure that serving its smaller corporate clientele is in the forefront of its thinking. So, having spent SLRs400 million ($2.2 million) on an upgraded e-banking platform that included a cash-management service tailored to large corporates, HNB adapted the offering to cater to its small business clients.

In 2018, under the leadership of managing director and chief executive Jonathan Alles, the bank issued an additional 485 business cards to small and medium-sized firms, and approved SME insurance to 94 clients, provided by HNB Assurance. It also introduced a matchmaking solution for exporters seeking to target the German market, leaning on a long-standing collaboration with the development agency GIZ. And it continues to plough money into developing SME-focused digital services.

A partnership with Colombo-based e-commerce provider Webxpay helps smaller firms move to the digital economy, while a new software solution, HNB Appy, helps smaller companies to set up their own customised app-based site.

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