Standard Chartered targets major growth from the SME sector

DUBAI — Reporting a 400 per cent growth in customer portfolio involving small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in less than three years, Standard Chartered has taken a new strategy to further its growth in this key market segment.

By Jose Franco

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Published: Fri 14 Sep 2007, 9:53 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 11:41 PM

Standard Chartered officials led by CEO Nigel Jones inaugurated yesterday the bank's first SME Banking Centre, in Dubai's free trade zone in Jebel Ali, which will be replicated in Abu Dhabi within this year and in Sharjah at a later date.

New outlet is the first and only centre dedicated to businesses whose individual revenue does not exceed Dh55.1 million ($15 million) per annum, according to Standard Chartered.

Noting that 90 per cent of UAE companies are SMEs, Standard Chartered officials said the bank is a leading player in the field, and has acquired a significant market share following a tremendous increase in the number of corporate clients.

They said the wanted to capitalise on this growth, strengthen the bank's presence in the country, and assist customers in their own expansion programmes by offering a wider range of products and services.

"This is our first SME centre, and it won't be the last," Belman said. "We have plans of setting up another one in Abu Dhabi this year, and later on in Sharjah. It is a concept that's expandable."

The bank's regional head of SME banking for the Middle East and South Asia, Sandeep Bose, said the new centre has relationship managers who will guide clients on foreign exchange and market movements, trade and investment activities, and cash management.

Bose said that while Standard Chartered outlets have units taking care of SME accounts, the bank had decided to put up an SME centre because the expanding number of small and medium businesses has paved the way to specialised services and customer needs.

"There's a new growth in the number of SMEs in the free zones, and we are looking at increasing our footprint in these areas," he said. "That is our business concentration."

Belman said that future plans for more Standard Chartered SME banking centres in region would have to include Qatar, Bahrain and Jordan.

He added that wealth management for SMEs is now the biggest banking and financial services market in Asia, especially in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Home to over 6,000 businesses, Jebel Ali is a regional business hub and one the world's fastest growing free trade zones, giving Standard Chartered a good chance to develop further in the area.

"We are committed to focusing on long-term customer relationships, providing creative and innovative solutions for global industrial investors, and fostering alliances with them," said Salma Hareb, CEO of Jebel Ali Free Zone and Economic Zones World.

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