HSBC opened its first bank in Ho Chi Minh City in 1870, and since then, it has become one of the largest foreign banks in the country. In its 151st year in Vietnam, HSBC continues to open up a world of opportunity for its customers and investors.
In this episode of Vietnam Innovators, Pramoth Rajendran, the country head of Wealth and Personal Banking at HSBC in Vietnam, looking after consumer banking businesses, talked about international banking and the importance of having a borderless mindset.
Born Indian and naturalized as Australian, Pramoth lived in Hong Kong and married a Singaporean national, making him an internationalist like HSBC. In 2019, he moved to Vietnam for an opportunity to drive the overall presence of HSBC and its consumer banking business to the next level of growth.
Prior to coming to the country, Pramoth held positions at HSBC in Sydney, Australia and Hong Kong.
HSBC’s global connectivity is its strength
Pramoth started his career at HSBC in 2014, and when asked what makes HSBC unique and why Vietnamese consumers should bank with them, he said, “We’re not trying to be the bank for everyone. Overall, our brand presence and our global connectivity is our strength.”
As someone whose life and career take him to a variety of countries, the wealth and personal banking head used himself to illustrate how the international focus of the bank provides convenience to customers. “For instance, if I have assets and mortgages in Australia and India, and my wife’s extended family is in Singapore, having HSBC helps to facilitate my financial needs across the globe.”
To establish a much bigger view, Pramoth presented three distinct consumer segments in Vietnam – ultra-high-net-worth, affluent mass, and personal banking. Based on his observation and on market data, ultra-high and affluent mass segments send their kids abroad to study and when they come back, they will eventually manage the businesses of their families and drive continued success.
“So HSBC, as a bank, we are able to facilitate the financial needs of those customers to be able to meet their requirements there,” he said, adding that it’s also true from a personal banking point of view.
Having an international mindset
As of 2020, HSBC was the world's sixth-largest bank by total assets and market capitalization. It has offices in 64 countries and territories across Africa, Asia, Oceania, Europe, North America and South America, serving around 40 million customers.
For customers with a global mindset, it’s essential to have an internationally-capable financial partner. Pramoth shared three crucial benefits of having an internationally-oriented approach.
The first is, being comfortable with change. Living comfortably is something that everyone wants, but packing all your stuff, moving your whole family and leaving some people behind usually don’t give that “comfortable” feeling. “Being able to navigate to a new environment and still be able to achieve your aspirations and goals in life is key,” Pramoth said.
Secondly, embracing different cultures is critically important. “For example, if I’m in Australia, in a professional environment, there can be a meeting with a lot of healthy debates. But in Vietnam, you have to attune your style, slightly different, which is embraced within the culture,” he said. Through his years of experience, he has learned that the lifestyle and culture of the people are entirely different but “those things can help you adapt to different environments, different circumstances all while navigating to make sure you achieve the best.”
Lastly, valuing more diversity is the most vital of the three, Pramoth said. Different markets and geographies have their own versions of diversity, but when you have global exposure and you’re looking at how diversity is perceived in Australia or in Hong Kong, Pramoth said, it broadens your exposure and you value diversity even more.