An Interview with Joe Chan


Dah Sing Bank’s General Manager of the Commercial Banking Division speaks to FST Media about how SME banking will evolve in Hong Kong over the next five years.

FST Media: What are your IT priorities for the next 12 to 18 months?

Chan: Our IT priorities for the next 12 to 18 months are focusing on fine-tuning and enhancing our IT infrastructures as well as streamlining the internal system to provide a better service for our customers. A key project will be the launch of our mobile banking for our corporates.

FST Media: How will SME banking evolve in Hong Kong over the next five years?

Chan: SME banking, like banking products for other client segments, is focusing more on its mobility in the future. As people are increasingly dependent on using their mobile phones for handling finances and personal banking, these habits are spreading into the activity of SMEs in dealing with their everyday banking needs; a cross-over between personal banking and corporate banking. The availability of such services for SMEs will become a norm in the near future. In the longer term, the efficiency, security and stability of these mobile banking services provided by banks will be instrumental in winning over business. 

FST Media: Is commercial banking facing the same disruption as retail banking, and how is Dah Sing using technology to stay relevant?

Chan: The successful businesses understand the need for using technology to stay relevant and be competitive. We are seeing innovation in areas that interact with customers, as well as areas that develop more client-centric solutions. This will facilitate automation for an efficient launch of additional services for our preferred client segments.

FST Media: What are some of the key trends and innovations for SME banking in 2015?

Chan: The mobility of banking services is one of the major trends in the banking industry and major innovations this year will focus strongly on this.

As SMEs evolve into larger-sized corporations, they expect higher value-added services, such as providing solutions to their business needs, through trade and cash management, instead of the traditional hard-selling of banking products.

Another foreseeable trend is that banking, in the eyes of the SMEs, will be considered as a platform for conducting transactions, financing and providing trade and cash solutions. We expect banks to offer an informative exchange of market information, contacts of clients and market intelligence. SME banks will need to offer greater upgraded services and solutions in the coming future.

FST Media: What challenges do commercial banks need to overcome to achieve this innovation?

Chan: Commercial banks encounter a lot of challenges including compliance, regulations and issues surrounding public trust. We need to focus our strategies on a customer relationship primacy model by building engagement with the customers. When launching new online banking products and services, we always focus on improvements in user-experience design through enhanced interaction and user-friendliness.

FST Media: How has Dah Sing’s DS-Direct delivered value to the business and how will you measure its success?

Chan: We have four basic principles for deliver our values to customers by virtue our staff, products and services: Focus, Fidelity, Flexible, Fast.

Continuous and healthy growth in the size of our customer portfolio and the profitability of our bank are key measures of our success in delivering value to the business. Increasing customer satisfaction has always been our key focus along the way.

FST Media: What are the challenges in creating a seamless and automatic experience for your customers using the iSME platform, and how have you overcome these?

Chan: The challenges are matching changes in customers’ behaviour and needs to offer the right banking solutions. The iSME platform allows us to build adaptable digital capabilities which are flexible and fast. A well-coordinated internal team can identify the opportunities in a quick and professional manner.

FST Media: What technology is helping you ensure customer security and work against money laundering concerns?

Chan: Financial industry executives are confronting complex and serious compliance challenges such as online security and AML issues. In response to these challenges, we have implemented a very secure system and network to perform monitoring transactions as well as conducting customer reviews and different procedures to work against money laundering.

Banking is about teamwork and not one single individual is able to complete a transaction or deal without help from another, even to do something as simple as opening a new account. The fundamental issue we are faced with are knowing our customers and knowing our customers’ customers. 

FST Media: What is proving to be your most effective customer acquisition channel and why?

Chan: The acquisition of customers is vital for banks to grow their business. Customer acquisition can be expensive so DSB ensures that the strategies we use will be successful. Brand strategy, product innovation, and service delivery are three approaches utilised by Dah Sing Bank to build up an overall acquisition strategy.

FST Media: What technology or innovation has had the most significant impact upon your career?

Chan: I believe in the theory of “less is more”. We want to make our banking products and services as simple as possible in order to suit our customers’ need. The iPhone is an excellent example of a simple technology with the most innovative design, using only one home button to control the phone.

FST Media: Every leader has a legacy they wish to be remembered for, what is yours?

Chan: Every good leader should have a clear vision for the business and be able to formulate a feasible business plan; understanding clearly the limitations of their organisation and how to manage their resources effectively. My legacy would be to be able to retain our promising talents because no matter how impeccable a business plan is, we will need our experienced staff to implement it.