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Standard Chartered seeks to grow international banking business; targets double-digit growth for affluent client base

Felicia Tan
Felicia Tan • 3 min read
Standard Chartered seeks to grow international banking business; targets double-digit growth for affluent client base
James Lye, global head of Standard Chartered's international banking business. Photo: Standard Chartered
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Standard Chartered is seeking to grow its international banking business, says James Lye, global head of the bank’s international banking business.

“We plan to grow our international affluent client base by double digits annually over the next three years,” says Lye, who was speaking to the media at a roundtable on June 5.

The move to grow the bank’s international business area comes from seeing a shift in its clients’ needs. According to Lye, a lot more of the bank’s clients are now requesting for products overseas.

To grow its international banking business, the bank seeks to enhance its cross-border capabilities by focusing on international mortgages, global accounts, global links, as well as by investing in its team.

At present, Standard Chartered has four international wealth hubs in Jersey, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Singapore and Hong Kong. The bank also has over 450 relationship managers (RMs), who hail from over 20 countries.

Another way the bank seeks to grow its business is to establish a central log to recognise the efforts of every member of the bank who has serviced these clients, says Lye.

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“[It’s a matter of] how can you get the RM to think, ‘I don’t offer it, but my colleagues do’… How do I get reflected of my effort? [It’s a] small but very important thing [to note].”

When asked about what sets the bank apart, Lye highlights Standard Chartered’s long-standing history in the cities it has been in. For instance, the bank has a history of about 165 years in Singapore. It has also been operating in countries such as India, Kenya and Bahrain for over 100 years.

“You can see the history that we have... We are like the unknown local bank here, we’re almost like a local bank everywhere,” he says, adding that the bank’s network is a “key differentiator” in positioning itself amongst its peers.

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“It’s not just offering banking [products]. We want to be relevant in the wealth management space and having key hubs close to you is how we want to play. It’s not a magic formula that people can’t copy, but having that presence, history and relationship with clients through generations, is not so easy to duplicate,” he continues.

The account threshold for Standard Chartered's international clients will be kept consistent with the bank's consumer banking business, which starts from its priority banking deposit account. To qualify for Standard Chartered’s priority banking account, clients need to bring in a minimum of $200,000 of fresh funds in eligible deposits or eligible investments.

In its earnings results for the 4QFY2023 and FY2023 ended Dec 31, 2023, Standard Chartered’s group chief executive Bill Winters announced that the bank intended to accelerate the growth of its international client business, targeting to reach over 375,000 clients by 2026 from 274,000 as at his statement on Feb 23.

According to the bank's commissioned study in 4Q2023, one in five - or 20% - of the 17,020 consumers interviewed at the time, hold cross-border banking products. About 70% of the same pool of consumers, who hail across nine of the bank's markets, need to send money overseas, with the highest number of transactions in the UAE, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

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