Andrew Long, CEO of HSBC Bank Oman, talks about how the bank strives to play a significant role in the social and economic development in Oman
At HSBC Bank Oman we understand that the success of our business is closely connected to the economic, environmental and social landscape in which we operate. We realise that the way we do business is as important as what we do. Therefore, our responsibility to our customers, employees and shareholders as well as the communities in which we operate go far beyond being simply profitable.
As a proud local bank, we always strive to play a significant role in the social and economic development in Oman by leveraging our ability to combine local expertise with HSBC Groups’ international connectivity. This enables us to help businesses thrive and contribute to the health and growth of the community.
What are the socially impactful initiative of HSBC Bank Oman?
HSBC Bank Oman’s corporate sustainability strategy looks to deliver both short-term and long-term value with a specific focus on three areas – education, environment and community development. Following are some of the corporate sustainability projects that have been implemented by the bank in the Sultanate during the last couple of years:
ESO’s Frankincense Project: A major environmental project that HSBC Bank Oman continues to fund. A project initiated and administered by the Environmental Society of Oman (ESO), which aims to improve the cultivation of Frankincense in the Sultanate.
Falaj Repairing: In partnership with the Omani Water Society, the bank contributed to renovating Al Madina Falaj in wilaiyat Nakhal, where the bank’s employees volunteered to repair and enhance the flow of water along the traditional falaj system by developing existing underground supplies while also encouraging agricultural production in cultivated areas that are experiencing excessively dry weather conditions.
Kids Read: A programme introduced by HSBC in partnership with the British Council and the Ministry of Education, which ran in Oman from 2011 to 2015. The programme aimed to instil in children the joy of reading outside the classroom.
Young Omani Author Award: A short story writing competition open to Omani students aged between 15 to 18 years old, which aimed to inspire students to share short stories around eight competition themes: environment, volunteerism, culture, community, individualism, sharing, education and value of money.
Special Education Needs Programme (SEN): A series of SEN training workshops for teachers across the Sultanate aimed at strengthening their skills in education and mental health, with an emphasis on Dyslexia and Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Ramadan campaigns: Annual campaigns that engage employees to raise funds for underprivileged children and families in Oman. Al Rahma and Dara Al Ataa charitable organisations were instrumental to ensuring food supplies provided under the campaign reached deserving families, often distributed by the bank’s own employees.
Can you elaborate on HSBC Bank Oman’s contribution to SMEs and to generate in-country value to build a sustainable Omani industrial base?
SMEs are critical to the future of Oman’s economy and at HSBC Bank Oman we are committed to Oman and the businesses that support the ongoing growth and diversification of the country’s economy.
As part of our support to the SMEs sector in Oman, in 2014 we launched The International Growth Fund, committing RO20mn to Oman’s international and internationally aspirant SMEs. The fund is open to new and existing customers with cross border trading requirements or those that aspire to grow internationally, and which have an annual turnover of RO1mn and above.
The fund was then doubled in 2015 following the success achieved in the previous year, as it has been fully allocated to sectors such as oil and gas and its associated services, construction and general trading. In addition, the bank introduced new “Growth Series” seminars providing SMEs with useful insight and advice on how to succeed in global markets.
This is where we believe we can add most value, using our local knowledge and expertise combined with HSBC Group’s international connectivity. We continue to work closely with relevant government authorities and key working groups to ensure that this segment flourishes and grows, in recognition of the importance of SMEs to the national agenda of Oman.
What are the major innovations the company introduced in the banking industry?
At HSBC Bank Oman we try to stay ahead of the digital game. Our multi-channel capabilities have grown from strength to strength making it easier for our customers to bank with us.
Combining expertise arising from lessons learned from the 60+ countries in which HSBC operates with our local knowledge, we were able to deliver a number of “firsts” for Oman, including being the first to offer ATMs, to provide international ATM cash withdrawals and to introduce an online banking system.
For over 20 years, we have developed a level of sophistication to our corporate clients through our global on-line business platforms “HSBC Net” and HSBC Connect” helping them manage their liquidity more effectively. Recognising that paper-based, manual payment processes are labour intensive and inefficient an increasing number of clients are benefiting from our digital platforms and moving their cash management to on-line to HSBC’s award winning cash management platforms.