HSBC, the largest foreign bank operating from the UAE, has decided to close accounts of certain SMEs following an internal assessment carried out by the bank, according to Business Benchmark magazine.
The SMEs that received email notes from the bank informing the new move have not been apprised of any specific reasons for such a step. The email has asked these SME business banking account holders to close their accounts with the bank as they no longer qualify for business banking services with the bank, the business magazine said in its August issue.
An account holder who sought reasons behind the move failed to get a proper reply to the query.
However, these account holders have been given 90 days’ time to find a suitable institution to bank with.
In a letter sent by Nick Levitt, Head of Commercial Banking, HSBC UAE, the bank said: “We recognize this may be a disappointment to you, and I would like to reassure that we are committed to doing everything possible to ensure a smooth transition to a new business bank of your choice. To assist with this, we will maintain your business account(s) with us for 90 days from the date of this letter.”
The bank said some important changes would come into effect to HSBC’s business banking services in 2013 and this could directly affect some business banking clients. The note went on to explain that HSBC Business Banking has been focused on helping SMEs grow and trade internationally for almost 150 years globally and for over 60 years in the UAE.
Noting that as such, international business remains a key competitive strength that lies at the heart of the bank’s strategy, and HSBC now aims to devote more resource to those customers the bank is best placed to help, HSBC stated that following a strategic review of its business customers, the bank would now be providing a personal relationship manager in all cases, but subject to qualifying criteria.
HSBC tried to defend its action by stating that the move was aimed at providing international expertise and support in line with its key strengths as a leading cross-border trade and business bank, and also due to the bank’s stringent regulatory obligations as a global banking provider.