ANZ plans to boost its street-level presence in Hong Kong

Bank to open more branches at street level in Hong Kong to offer personalised service, says chief executive of Australian giant's local arm

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 March, 2013, 4:29am

ANZ has declared itself among those banks that still attach great importance to providing its customers with traditional branch services, despite bank clients turning in increasing numbers to the internet to manage their accounts.

The Australian bank recently opened a street-level branch in Nathan Road in Kowloon and planned to open more such branches in future, said Susan Yuen Su-min, the chief executive of ANZ Hong Kong.

"Having street-level branches is important in terms of providing a personalised service to customers. We will be selective about choosing the right location and right size of premises for our street-level branches in future," Yuen said in an interview with the South China Morning Post.

When ANZ took over the retail businesses in the city of the Royal Bank of Scotland three years ago, it acquired three branches inside high-rise commercial buildings in Central and Causeway Bay. The Nathan Road branch is its first street-level outlet.

The merger of the RBS business had been smooth, Yuen said, and total revenues from Hong Kong operations were now more than three times higher than before the takeover. New clients include many companies doing business across Asia, as well as wealthy individual clients.

Yuen said strong economic growth in the region ensured a constant growth in the numbers of new millionaires on the mainland and in other Asian countries, and this meant there was a growing demand for wealth management services.

The euro-zone debt crisis and economic uncertainties in the United States also helped ANZ, which is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, to attract more wealth management customers.

"We have seen many customers who are interested in investing in Australia in recent years, as the country is not affected by the euro-zone crisis, and its economic growth is good," Yuen said.

On corporate banking, ANZ was a keen promoter of yuan trade settlement and yuan loans in recent years. The yuan is not yet fully convertible but since 2009 the currency has been used to settle trade or make investments.

Data from the money transfer service Swift showed that Australia had the fourth-largest market of yuan inflows and outflows in the world, after mainland China, Hong Kong and Singapore.

"We have seen many big corporations turning to the yuan to settle their trades," Yuen said.

ANZ, one of the Big Four banks in Australia, is the most aggressive in terms of expanding outside its home country, particularly in Asia.

In 2007, it hired Michael Smith, a former top executive at HSBC in Hong Kong, as chief executive.

ANZ now has offices in 25 markets, including mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia.