Global banking giant HSBC says that competition is intensifying in the small and medium enterprise (SME) market, and is now targeting export orientated customer with turnovers of up to $10 million.
HSBC has established a new division called HSBC Business, which it says will adopt a product driven rather than lending approach. The division with offer transactional banking, and a range of international services including payments and cash management, trade finance and foreign exchange.
HSBC’s global chairman of personal and commercial banking, Sandy Flockhart speaking in Melbourne on Thursday said that the lender would adopt a niche strategy, which would mean it did not engage in a head to head clash with the Big Four Australian lenders.
“We have a competitive advantage with connectivity to the rest of the world,” he said.
Australia has about 1 million SMEs, about 90,000 of which do international business.
HSBC is perhaps one of the largest global SME lenders, and has as many as 3 million customers in the space worldwide. HSBC Australia head of commercial banking Noel McNamara said that, as the leading international bank in Asia, the group was well-placed to meet the needs of local SME’s.
In the past HSBC has been mentioned many times as a potential bidder for a domestic Australian bank, but Mr. Flockhart dismissed the suggestion it may acquire something in the immediate future saying the banking sector looked “quite expensive at the moment”.
“We are focused on our own organic (growth) model,” he said. “But you never say never.”