The Bank of East Asia – Providing best-in-class financial services

Interview with Dr. the Honourable Sir David Kwok-po Li GBM GBS JP, Chairman and Chief Executive – The Bank of East Asia

Since being incorporated in Hong Kong in 1918, BEA has grown into a highly regarded financial institution in Hong Kong, Mainland China and other major markets around the world. To what factors do you attribute the Bank’s strong position today?

Our founders prided themselves on knowing their customers and their customers’ needs, and we quickly became recognised as a reliable partner that could facilitate business both at home and abroad. We have stayed true to these principles throughout our history.

Hong Kong is an outward-looking economy, and a key part of our mission is to link Hong Kong and Hong Kong companies with business opportunities overseas. Today, BEA is the largest independent local bank in Hong Kong and the operator of an extensive network covering Greater China, Southeast Asia and the United Kingdom.

With the integration of China into the global economy starting in the 1980s, we were an early investor on the Mainland, where our clients could enjoy seamless service with their preferred banking partner, The Bank of East Asia. In 2007, we were one of the very first foreign banks to establish a wholly-owned banking subsidiary on the Mainland. Today, The Bank of East Asia (China) Limited (“BEA China”) operates the second largest branch network of all foreign banks in the country.

We also offer a comprehensive range of personal banking services, and have consistently been a market leader in making the banking experience more convenient. Today, we are transforming our branches to make a wide range of customer-friendly banking services available through innovative digital channels.

Customer focus is at the core of our values. We have always put our customers first, knowing that our success depends on how well we anticipate, appreciate, understand, and satisfy their needs.

As Hong Kong’s largest independent local bank, how important are Southeast Asian markets, including Singapore, to the Bank’s growth?

Singapore is Hong Kong’s top trading partner among ASEAN Member States, representing some 37% of Hong Kong’s total merchandise trade with ASEAN in recent years. As such, Singapore is very important to our clients and to us.

Meanwhile, Singapore is also a major investor in China. Today, China is Singapore’s largest trading partner with trade growing more than twenty-fold between 1990 and 2014.The importance of China to Singapore’s economy is underlined by the fact that Singapore is now the third largest offshore RMB centre outside China.

Given Singapore’s strategic location in Asia, with well-developedinfrastructure and world-leading transport and communication links, Singapore will serve as a key node of China’s One Belt One Road Strategy and an excellent gateway to Southeast Asia.

BEA’s Singapore Branch opened for business in 1952 and is a full-license bank providing a wide array of financial services to meet both corporate and individual needs. In 1997, BEA established the Labuan Branch in Malaysia to provide syndicated and bilateral loans.

BEA is also present in other Southeast Asian markets. In Indonesia we have partnered with Resona Holdings Inc. from Japanin P.T. ResonaPerdania Bank. We are also a major shareholder in AFFIN Holdings Berhad in Malaysia, the holding company of AFFIN Bank Berhad. Most recently, we have acquired a strategic interest in a finance company in Cambodia.

Leveraging on BEA’s network, the Singapore Branch is well-positioned to support customers from China and Hong Kong expanding into Southeast Asian markets as part of the Belt and Road Strategy.

What does the future hold for BEA in Hong Kong and internationally?

BEA’s growth in recent years has largely been attributable to the success of the Bank in developing new business links between customers in Hong Kong, Mainland China, and overseas. Going forward, we will further build onour advantage in facilitating cross-border business flows. In this regard, a growing number of Mainland enterprises are stepping up their overseas investments.Business is now truly two-way, with overseas companies investing in China and Chinese companies investing abroad.

Our clients are also concerned about their individual investments, and we have built up an impressive wealth management capability over the past 15 years. Today, our exclusive Supreme Gold account services can be found wherever BEA has a branch. We are ready to serve our top clients, no matter where or how they wish to invest.

We also recognise that the banking business continues to evolve. Even as new global regulatory standards place greater demands on our resources, we must drive down the cost of delivering services to our customers. We are very focussed on streamlining our business, making the most of advanced technology and increasing efficiency.

What does the next 20 years hold for Hong Kong?

The range and depth of professional services available in Hong Kong, such as legal and accounting, is second to none. The regulatory regime is admired throughout the world, and the courts are widely recognised as independent. Taxes are low, and Hong Kong is an extremely efficient place to do business. These are just some of the reasons that Hong Kong is and will continue to be a major financial centre for China and for the world.

The banking sector will continue to enjoy business opportunities providing financial services to companies and individuals doing business in this region. As has been true since the first Mainland enterprise listed in Hong Kong just over 25 years ago, Hong Kong will continue to be a major equity fund raising centre and a platform for Chinese companies to go international.

Riding on China’s Belt and Roadinitiative and as a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Hong Kong will be a major financing centre for Belt and Road-related projects for Mainland Chinese and overseas companies. Hong Kong’s position as the premier offshore RMB hub, its close geographical and economic ties with Mainland China, and its financial expertise give Hong Kong the edge in playing an important role in the Belt and Road.

Related Articles


Related Articles