Standard Chartered’s strong commitment to Vietnam
Reported by Truc Diem
Standard Chartered Bank has underscored its strong commitment to Vietnam with the visit of Bill Winters, Group Chief Executive Officer, who grants the following interview
Bill Winters (C), Group Chief Executive Officer, Standard Chartered; Ajay Kanwal (R), CEO, ASEAN and South Asia, Standard Chartered; and Nirukt Sapru (L), CEO, Vietnam & ASA Cluster Markets, Standard Chartered, at a Standard Chartered’s press conference in Hanoi in September 2016
Q.: How important are emerging markets, including Vietnam, in your global strategy?
A.: Standard Chartered is an emerging market bank. So everything we do will be focused one way or another on emerging markets. That is why we have a very big business in Asia, the Middle East, South Asia and Africa apart from North and South Americas and Europe.
In fact, Vietnam is extremely important to us, both as a country in its own right but also because of the connection between Vietnam and the rest of the world and the rest of our clients.
For example, we have a very big business in Korea, Japan, other parts of Asia, China, Singapore and these are the countries that are investing in Vietnam.
We are helping bring international capital into Vietnam. We’re also helping the local corporations as well as subsidiaries of global corporations export goods from Vietnam, providing the underlying trade finance, financing their local operations and helping them manage their roots.
In that context, Vietnam is very important to us in terms of the international connectivity.
Have you devised specific plans for Vietnam? What have you been doing to strengthen your footprint in the country?
I can tell you that we have very exciting plans in Vietnam. I have spent the bulk of the day with our team in the country understanding thoroughly their latest thinking about how we can invest in the country.
We are pretty full-serviced when it comes to the retail business, the commercial banking business serving small and medium sized corporations, international institutions and subsidiaries of global companies. We are touching all those segments.
We have ambitions to substantially increase all of those activities. Notably, we’ve made very specific investment in our retail business in order to touch more customers. We’ve rolled out some of the best digital applications in the world and we want to make sure we’re bringing the best of that to Vietnam.
Our number of clients is rising steadily, especially the number of subsidiaries of global companies.
The team is very excited about investment opportunities in Vietnam.
Bill Winters, Group chief executive officer, Standard Chartered Bank
Numerous foreign banks have settled in Vietnam for quite some time and taken a priority on corporate clients rather than individual customers. Does Standard Chartered take the same road?
Standard Chartered has been in Vietnam for over one hundred years. Vietnam is therefore a deep part of our history as a bank. We started serving trading and corporate companies, but we have built a substantial retail business. Our investment plans are focused on each segment of our businesses.
We hope to significantly increase the number of consumers with whom we do business. We want to be here to help with new products, new capabilities and new physical locations with which to serve our clients.
Vietnam has integrated deeply into the regional and global economies, with numerous free trade agreements already signed or about to be inked. What would you do to capture the opportunities?
We have increased both the number of people we have on the ground and the number of clients that we covered. We have always very focused on trade and investment.
Our objective is to play a major role in terms of facilitating the financing and the actual mechanics of the trade arrangements for both import and export to and from Vietnam. This has been our business for the past 150 years and we are really well-placed to do that.
Furthermore, we have the people on the ground right now and in the rest of our network who are very focused on promoting trade in and out of Vietnam.
Competition is fierce in Vietnam and elsewhere, how do you differentiate yourself from your rivals?
I think competition is fierce in most markets in which we operate right now. And we have a few key differentiators.
Firstly, we are a local bank and we’ve always been positioned as a local bank, having been in Vietnam for over a hundred years. We are also the global network banking. That combination makes us different from most of our competitors.
On the consumer side, we are the best in class in digital banking. We are rolling out our best digital capability, online banking, mobile banking, mobile wallet, creating some partnership in Asian. That’s how we can get some real penetration on the digital side with our consumers.
We are also the best in class wealth-management banking. We boast a set of wealth-management products in mobile wallet.
Last but not least, we are on the ground in Korea and on the ground in 17 countries in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. These are very important markets for us. Bear in mind that they are very relevant to Vietnam as we are bringing the best of our global network to this country and that’s one of the real differentiators.
AJAY KANWAL, CEO, ASEAN and South Asia, Standard Chartered
Both in Vietnam and other parts of the region in ASEAN and South Asia (ASA), our strategy is to continue to support our corporate and individual clients and facilitate greater trade flows and investment within ASA and with the rest of the world. We have been present in all 10 ASEAN markets and are able to cover our clients’ connectivity across this region. Within ASEAN, Vietnam is a market in which we have been doing very well. We have been here for quite a long time. Our intention now is to invest in Vietnam franchise. So you see we have hired more people and put in more investments in technology. We’re very happy with our business in Vietnam.
NIRUKT SAPRU, CEO, Vietnam & ASA Cluster Markets, Standard Chartered
Apart from excellent business operation in Vietnam, Standard Chartered has carried out programs related to social responsibilities. The bank’s biggest program, “Seeing is Believing,” which tackles preventable blindness, was launched in Vietnam in 2004 and has benefited thousands of children. It is currently at Phase 5 with US$1 million spent bringing eye care services to more rural and remote areas. For 2016-2018, the bank will invest US$2 million to support people in the North and Mekong Delta.
In addition, the bank’s global program “Goal” was launched in Vietnam last year to provide financial education, life skills and employability training to 8,000 adolescent girls. The US$220,000 and three-year project aspires to empower the young girls to play a more active role in their communities.