Time for another bank review.
- First impressions
- Opening An Account
- Internet Banking
- Card Products
- Customer Service
- Account Management
- Other Services
- Final Notes
Take particular note to that I will not be discussing the financial health of the bank. This is not a bank recommendation post. It’s a retelling of my experiences with a bank.
Today we will be talking about HSBC Hong Kong, in particular their commercial banking wing. Personal banking will not be addressed in much detail.
It’s difficult to describe the first impressions of HSBC because it’s a bank that has been around for a long time, in a lot of countries, and which has always been an interesting player in offshore banking.
HSBC is one of the main banks in Hong Kong, covering everything from personal to small businesses to corporate to private banking. While the bank is nowadays headquartered in London, it is here that it was founded.
Interaction with HSBC Hong Kong is usually fast and efficient but more advanced queries can lead to slow response times; slower than other banks of comparable size. Delays of several days are not uncommon to email inquiries, but they should nonetheless be commended for almost never failing to answer.
Banking fees in Hong Kong are overall low and HSBC is no exception. Minimum deposit requirements are strictly enforced for the different account tiers, but non-compliance costs are tolerable.
Opening An Account
Opening a corporate account with HSBC Hong Kong is a very straight-forward process, for better or worse. It is more akin to an assembly line than a bank account opening.
This means that as long as you fit into one of a few models (local company, local company with foreign owners, regional company, BVI company), account opening is usually a breeze. If you have a more complex structure or just something they are not used to, you run a high risk of being declined. Going through a qualified introducer can make a big difference, though.
For personal accounts, the process is also highly streamlined.
Foreign residents (companies and individuals) are very rarely issued anything other than China UnionPay. These cards will work in some ATMs worldwide, using the EPS or PLUS networks.
Those seeking Visa or MasterCard will be disappointed unless they are resident in Hong Kong or are on excellent terms with the bank since many years.
The security is commendable with tokens required for logging in and for signing transactions.
The interface is starting to look a bit dated and navigation can be a bit cumbersome.
Most if not all of the features you could ask for in an internet banking facility are there.
Available around the clock in Chinese and English, but expect the English customer service to have a heavy accent and you will need to speak very clearly to make yourself understood. I have come across a number of cases where this has been a source of significant frustration.
The overall quality of HSBC Hong Kong customer service is good. They could be faster but if you are dealing with regular customer service (as opposed to having an account manager, see below), the service levels are in line with if not better than comparable banks.
This is one aspect of HSBC Hong Kong which has not changed towards the robotic assembly line impression one gets from many other parts of the bank.
The highest levels of account management is of excellent quality.
While I am not sure if the bank will still qualify for Best Offshore Bank in 2015, it is nonetheless a very good bank and a powerhouse in the offshore banking sector.
Recent scandals will likely make HSBC globally a lot more cautious for the immediate future.