MR Philippe Paillart, who took over as head of Standard Chartered's retail banking division in February, clearly has enough diplomatic savvy not to step on the toes of his predecessors. When asked if he has any changes up his sleeve, Mr Paillart said: ''It's not a question of changes, it's a matter of doing better what has been done before. It is improving a good quality, profitable operation.'' This means Standard Chartered will continue to emphasise its service-oriented culture and make consumers the focus of operations. Mr Paillart makes no bones about the fact that Standard Chartered sees service as a key competitive edge in the battle for Hongkong consumers. ''We have to establish a relationship with customers and make sure we are not pushing our products on them,'' he said. ''We have to make sure we are servicing their needs.'' Among the areas on which Mr Paillart wants to focus his energies is improving the bank's distribution system. A key element of this strategy is the bank's ''priority banking'' service, which aims to tap the growing number of small business entrepreneurs and bigger investors. This will involve establishing additional banking centres or offices attached to branches for clients with more than $500,000 of deposits or investments. Mr Paillart uses the analogy of different airline classes to illustrate what Standard Chartered would like to do. Economy class, he said, was similar to basic retail services that offered the best price-service value. Private banking was first-class, with red carpet treatment and the creation of new products for customers - leaving the middle or business class for people who wanted specialised banking service, higher status and a separate access mechanism. ''We are recognising there are special needs for these types of customers and responding to their needs,'' Mr Paillart said. At the branch level, Standard Chartered is increasing the use of technology to make transactions easier and quicker. He also wants to increase the amount of information available such as research reports, up-to-the-minute stock prices and general market information. ''There are many people who have money and they don't know where to place their money,'' he said. ''It is our job to help them do that.''