11 June 2020

HSBC SG ways of working principles as it enters Phase One

As Singapore embarks on the multi-phase re-opening of its economy, HSBC shares the principles it will apply to ensure the ongoing safety of its employees and customers, and to minimise the further spread of COVID-19.

Quote from Tony Cripps, CEO: "HSBC remains steadfast in our support of employees, customers and the recovery of the Singapore economy. However, the fluid nature of COVID-19 within Singapore means that we need to retain flexibility in our approach. As such, we have put together broad principles that will frame how we decide to operate as we go through the various phases of safe recovery."

HSBC Singapore’s principles are as follows:

Our employees will continue to work from home where they productively can

HSBC has well-established policies, technology and management support to enable and empower employees to work from home. During the peak of the circuit breaker phase in April, we had 87% of our employees working from home. Our ability to support customers remained stable. HSBC supports the Singapore government’s advisory1 for employees to remain working from home if they productively can.

We are focused on retaining connectivity for employees and customers

During this period, we are focusing on ensuring our employees remain connected through structured virtual wellness and development programmes. These include mental and physical exercise classes, financial health webinars, resilience workshops and wellbeing activities, conducted over Zoom. We also have bi-weekly video call with all employees for senior management of the bank to address questions and concerns, in addition to regular engagement sessions run by senior management in their respective areas.

For our customers, the pandemic has meant that we have had to adapt and change the way we do things in order to stay connected and provide them with the best service possible. Here are some examples:

  • We have been looking at new online channels for outreach and engagement. For example, to support the overall Greater China Growth Strategy for HSBC’s Global Private Banking (GPB), we launched our first ever GPB-owned WeChat platform to share timely macro news and investment insights for Chinese-speaking clients who are based in China and the rest of the Asia region.
  • To replace in-person learning and networking events, we have been running a series of client events on Zoom. Examples include a wine tasting session with an Italy-based winemaking family that included care packages comprising wine and accompanying nibbles delivered directly to clients' doorsteps.
  • Relationship Managers are engaging their network of clients via video calls, and using technology to validate identification documents and contracts for various transactions. For retail banking, mortgage sales team can also now use video-conferencing to verify the identity and onboard new home loan customers who have sent in their application via email. Commercial and Global Banking teams are able to complete Board Resolutions, payment instructions or new cash management solutions virtually. As a result, we have successful on-boarded clients in the midst of the pandemic, and continue to engage new client activity.
  • We've enhanced digital support for online trade applications by assisting customers to shift to digital platforms, including HSBCnet, Trade Transaction Tracker and Instant@dvice.

Some of these digital changes are likely to become permanent features going forward. While banking will remain a people business, the way we interact with our customers will change, and these digital banking solutions will help us to fast-track our goal in becoming the bank of the future.

Return to office will be phased and optional for our people

Following the Singapore government advisory, we are opening the option for our people to return to the office. In instances where employees are seeking to return, we are arranging this in incremental waves of 10-15% each time. The waves will be spread over several weeks, taking into consideration external and internal factors such as Singapore Government requirements, number of community cases, staff readiness, personal protective equipment availability, public transport availability, testing availability, etc. Where there is any doubt, we will err on the side of caution.

We will be maintaining the highest safety in our offices to protect our employees and customers

For employees who will be in our branches and premises we will maintain the following safety measures:

  • Split-site working across our various office premises will be maintained until further notice.
  • Staggered timing for work arrivals.
  • All employees working onsite will wear face masks in the office (HSBC Singapore distributes one surgical mask per day to every employee in the office and have also offered reusable masks).
  • Individuals to remain at least one metre apart.
  • Checking into and out of HSBC buildings with SafeEntry, and activating the TraceTogether app while an employee is in the office.
  • We have also distributed thermometers to those who do not own one, and placed hand sanitisers at our building entrances and high touch points.
  • In preparation for the gradual re-opening, and in anticipation of higher customer footfall, we have provided our frontline employees with a face shield for their added protection.

HSBC will recommence in-person meetings with customers only when it is necessary

  • Where possible, we will advise clients to maintain virtual meetings.
  • Where face-to face-client engagements are necessary, we will maintain the Safe Management measures outlined above.
  • We will closely monitor the meeting numbers to ensure it is within the Singapore government guidelines.
  • We’re looking ahead at a ‘new normal’ for the banking industry

    HSBC is actively participating in the Return to Onsite Operations Taskforce (ROOT) organised by the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS), which focuses on the measures that will become the ‘new normal’ in offices and branches. While the taskforce discussions are still underway, the emphasis has been largely on managing the wellbeing of employees and customers. HSBC is also taking this opportunity to collaborate with government agencies to reduce paper-based workflows and third party vendors, thereby enhancing our digital capabilities.

    1 https://www.gov.sg/article/ending-circuit-breaker-phased-approach-to-resuming-activities-safely