HSBC Bank Taiwan Ltd (匯豐台灣商銀) yesterday said that its earnings grew by a double-digit percentage last year thanks to an expanding trade finance business, but warned of headwinds ahead.
Pretax profit rose from US$199 million in 2017 to US$225 million last year, the subsidiary of HSBC Holdings PLC said.
Its major earnings drivers were retail and global banking, which generated US$55 million and US$117 million in pretax profits respectively last year, company data showed.
Commercial banking’s pretax profit jumped 130 percent year-on-year to US$23 million, following flat growth in 2017, data showed.
HSBC attributed the increase to stable growth in trade finance last year, along with the steady rise in corporate lending and cash management services, Stanley Hsiao (蕭仲程), head of commercial banking, told a media briefing in Taipei.
“Although there were headwinds in global trade last year and the nation’s exports began slowing down since November, our business was not affected,” Hsiao said.
Although HSBC does not have a big share of the trade finance market in Taiwan, it has managed to secure more clients and help them with market diversification to keep the business growing, he said.
The bank has helped several Taiwanese clients who wanted to move out of China or diversify their markets, assess emerging market risks and understand the regulatory environment, he said.
The number of its new clients rose 57 percent year-on-year, but the net increase in total clients grew only slightly from a year earlier as some of its old clients closed their accounts following the bank’s adoption of the know-your-customer practice, Hsiao said.
HSBC holds a cautious outlook for this year, citing uncertainties in global trade.
“We do not think their [US and China] major trade disputes can be solved in six months or even a year,” Hsiao said.
The bank said it is optimistic about the use of blockchain in financial transactions and expects the new technology to become more popular in the next three years.
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