World of Opportunity: The Important Role of Sustainability in Family Business
Around the world, families and businesses are facing complex challenges, from human health crises such as Covid-19 to the existential threat of climate change. At the same time, globalisation, cheap energy and rapid growth have spurred unprecedented wealth creation over the past 50 years, while a new cohort of Asian business leaders is taking over at a time of much uncertainty.
Given this challenging environment, sound advice will be key. Trusted financial partners and advisers are more important than ever in supporting families and businesses in their personal wealth and business ambitions, ensuring a successful transfer of wealth to the next generation and the preservation of wealth for generations to come.
And there are few more trusted advisers in Asia than Siew Meng Tan, head of HSBC Private Banking for Asia Pacific. With a long track record as a corporate banker in Singapore, CEO of HSBC Mauritius and HSBC Thailand, she has made a successful transition into private banking.
Since she took over the regional role to lead HSBC Private Banking in 2017, clients have responded positively to the changes she has ushered in, which have resulted in significant growth, driven by an ambitious strategy of leveraging HSBC’s strength in Asia and connecting across the group’s global footprint and commercial banking expertise.
Tan has also been busy expanding the bank’s wealth capabilities, bringing onboard teams of investment specialists and product experts, in addition to key hires across estate planning and family office advisory to provide the most comprehensive range of wealth, business and family succession solutions to service the needs of Asia’s elite.
Her background and insight as a commercial banker with HSBC have also shaped her unique ability to bring together the corporate and private wealth worlds for the benefit of Asia’s growing business families. “Much of the wealth in the region comes from families who have been successful in building solid businesses,” she says. “The fact that I’ve worked with so many of these business owners gives me a thorough understanding of how I can rally the resources of the HSBC Group to support them across their more complex needs”.
On the private wealth side, there is a heightened focus on wealth preservation and succession planning.
“The business owners and leaders we work with spend so much time managing the business, that they tend to delay planning for their families,” Tan says. “This is where HSBC Private Banking is uniquely positioned to address the needs of these families.”
With 155 years of heritage in Asia, HSBC has an unparalleled connection to the region, representing stability for families planning multi-generational wealth strategies.
Of course, HSBC’s global footprint outside Asia is also important for the region’s global families.
“Families are looking at how they can diversify their wealth, and they’re looking for service and support to help them,” says Tan. “But it’s also about supporting the global lifestyle that such families lead, such as sending their children overseas for education. They don’t just want investment advice; they also want us to be able to support them across their international banking needs.”
Tan’s leadership has brought increasing recognition for HSBC Private Banking in Asia, winning numerous major industry awards, in particular the Best Private Bank in Hong Kong from Asian Private Banker and the Best Private Bank in Asia from WealthBriefingAsia. In addition, Tan was recently recognised as Private Banker of the Year by Asian Private Banker, though she is quick to attribute the success to the whole team.
“The awards are an affirmation of the work that we have been doing,” she says. “The fact that the market has recognised our strategy gives us a lot of encouragement that we are doing the best for our clients.”
Technology is one area where HSBC continues to invest heavily, often drawing on the expertise and experience of the retail and commercial banking arms, where developments in artificial intelligence and data analytics allow the private bank to improve client experience across the board.
See also: Go For Variety: Diversification Is Key
As younger generations play a more prominent role in family businesses across Asia, they are bringing a markedly different focus with them. For many, social impact is much more important than the traditional markers of success.
This can be as simple as rebalancing the investment portfolio to select assets that reflect the family’s social impact goals, but it can also be a more immersive experience. This is reflected in the popularity of HSBC Private Banking’s Sustainability Leadership Programme, where like-minded leaders learn about the importance of sustainable business practices out in the jungles of Borneo.
Such programmes provide the tools to support the next generation as they seek to make a difference in the world. And, says Tan, the Covid-19 pandemic has further heightened interest among next-gen family members in rethinking how their businesses operate—and especially their relationships with stakeholders and the wider community.
“Lots of clients engage us about helping to bring the community back together post-Covid-19,” she says. “The pandemic has triggered a deep reflection about how we can change the way we live, our relationship with the environment and our roles in society. This has resonated well with clients and we see an increasing demand for sustainable investing as a long term trend. There is an urge to do things better and lots of clients are looking into how they can build their businesses to be more sustainable as well as making positive change in the community.”
Despite the challenges they face, many of Asia’s families are turning to HSBC and its private banking team to amplify the impact of their wealth while creating sustainable strategies for their businesses, families and communities.
Read more about HSBC Private Banking here
- Photography Affa Chan
- Hair Gloomy Kwok at HK Makeup
- Make-Up Gloomy Kwok at HK Makeup
- Location The Murray, Hong Kong