Mon, May 15, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Standard Chartered boss lauds Taiwan

OPPORTUNITIES:Jose Vinals was upbeat on loan opportunities to Taiwan’s small and medium-sized enterprises as they respond to the ‘new southbound policy’

By Ted Chen  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan remains an important market for Standard Chartered PLC, newly appointed chairman Jose Vinals said during a visit to the company’s flagship digital branch in Taipei on Friday last week, the first by a top executive from the firm in five years.

Among the 78 markets where the Asia-focused British bank operates, Taiwan last year ranked among the top 10 performers in retail banking, and among the top three in wealth management, Vinals said.

The company is also to continue investments in financial technology (fintech) to improve cost optimization, he said.

As the evolution of fintech brings sweeping changes to the financial services sector, the majority of disruptive innovations have been in retail banking, Vinals said.

Fintech innovations allow for greater cost reductions and improved efficiency through automation, while also elevating risk control capabilities and facilitating delivery of products and services, Vinals said.

The company in late 2015 announced plans to invest US$1.5 billion over the following three years to reposition its retail banking client systems and digital capability, as well as its private banking and wealth management businesses, as part of a strategy of refocusing on more profitable and less capital intensive businesses.

The investments are expected to increase return on equities by more than 100 basis points, the company has said.

As the company last year began introducing digital banking solutions to its more than 5 million clients in nine markets across Asia, Africa and the Middle East, it closed seven bank branches in Taiwan.

The cuts were not a result of a smaller client base or payroll, but a reflection of changes in how financial services and products are delivered, Vinals said.

Despite the scale-back, Standard Chartered still has 74 branches in Taiwan, the highest number among foreign banking franchises operating in the nation.

Vinals said that it is vital for the company to retain its human touch as it forges ahead with innovations.

“You must have both, or you are dead in the water,” Vinals told reporters at the company’s sleek-looking iWealth center in Taipei, which provides video calls and other secure online tools to enable face-to-face consultation with advisers.

He also gave an upbeat outlook on loan opportunities to Taiwan’s small and medium-sized enterprises as they respond to the government’s “new southbound policy” that aims to forge closer economic ties with the 10 ASEAN member nations as well as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Australia and New Zealand.

Newly appointed Standard Chartered Bank (Taiwan) Ltd chief executive officer Anthony Lin (林遠棟) said that the company has an extensive network in 10 South and Southeast Asian markets, and has more than 300 local branches to support overseas expansions for Taiwanese businesses, adding that the company has plans to add an iWealth center in Taichung.

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