There is perhaps no better person to helm HSBC‘s Premier and Jade banking than Bonnie Qiu.
The Shanghai-born go-getter boasts an international outlook on life, having grown up in Kenya and studied in the UK. “My parents gave me a breadth of perspectives around how things operate in different parts of the world, enabling me to land this international role at HSBC.”
Unlike your average high-flying suit, Qiu’s upbringing makes her an utterly unique and interesting character. For one, she designs her own jewellery — the magnificent rubies adorning her ears are sourced and design by Qiu herself — and she is looking at starting her GIA certification courses soon.
Qiu is this generation’s wonder woman. She looks after all of HSBC’s Premier and Jade clients globally — specifically, 27 markets with the former, and eight for the latter. In between it all, she juggles the roles of being a wife and a mother to two girls aged eight and three. This has also led her to reach out to other working mothers like herself in HSBC as she sits on the bank’s Asia Pacific Balance Committee, a role that aims to “bring more balance to the lives of [her] female colleagues”. Its initiatives ranges from talks to empower its future female leaders to organising activities for working parents to bring their children to the workplace. Such forward-thinking planning is exactly what the HSBC Jade segment thrives on — to combine tailored concierge services with personalised investment advice. Ahead of HSBC Jade’s branch opening in Jewel, we speak to Qiu on what exactly sets HSBC Jade apart, and how different are Singaporean clients from the rest of the world
How does HSBC Jade put itself above its rivals?
Oh Jade is special, Jade is my baby [laughs]. Jade embodies our holistic approach to wealth management including family, mobility, international banking and health and wellness. It sits uniquely between HSBC Premier and the Private Bank, open to all high-net-worth (HNW) clients with investible assets of at least USD1 – 5 million. With Jade we’re bringing together our leading expertise in retail and private banking, insurance and asset management, to offer the best of HSBC to provide a distinctive service in the high net worth space of internationally oriented Singaporeans and other global citizens. Today, we’re seeing a trend of wealth creation, unlike other markets in the world, where it’s about wealth maintenance. We have to be a bit more innovative around how we cater to the Jade segment in Asia. We can’t use the traditional approach when it comes to serving Jade clients. We need to blend in fun — they’ve worked very hard to get to where they are, and they want to have fun in life. If we talk about Singaporeans specifically, they really want their children to see the world, to experience living in different places, and to have holiday homes in different places. This is a very different dynamic to what an average affluent banking proposition could bring. Jade is about giving high net worth retail banking clients a flavour of private banking servicing while injecting a bit of lifestyle dynamics to the mix.
Are we right to say that HSBC Jade is non-traditional in its approach to retail banking?
Our Jade clients being largely Asians are different. They want technology and everything to move super fast. They want to save time. They want to continue to grow their wealth, like I’ve mentioned, it’s not about wealth maintenance. It’s about growth. The clients we have in Jade, in Asia, are also younger than the rest of the world. They are more dynamic, and they look for more opportunities, not just for themselves, but also for their families. They are very curious about the rest of the world and look to HSBC for insights.
Tell us more about the Singaporean clients.
Growing up in what I call a ‘city country’, Singaporeans want to spend their weekends away, they want to explore and travel a lot more. I find that Singaporeans are very hungry for cultural experiences. On top of that, they want to create unique things. For those who are into luxury and fashion, they want to co-create with clothes and jewellery designers to make pieces that are memorable and have meaning over just going to a shop to buy something. Singaporeans also love learning. Take for instance one of our partners, Christie’s. Our clients want to take up courses organised by Christie’s. They want to learn about wine, art, gemstones, and vintage jewellery design.
Things like buying international properties, or sending their children to prestigious schools abroad is something they do everyday. More HNWIs now see legacy as investing for the future and including societal benefits. Here, the demand is for a bank to cater to wealth management and lifestyle. We need to be much more on our toes because expectations are high.
Has HSBC Jade’s concierge service ever received unique requests?
Unlike other markets where other clients want Michelin dining, Singaporean clients want private kitchen dining. Recently, we had a request from our Singaporean clients who were travelling to Japan, a party of 12 who wanted to squeeze into an omakase sushi bar that only had nine seats. All that mattered was that they’re at that particular sushi chef’s table. They’re very social media driven and love recommendations from friends. They seek that sense of exclusiveness and that’s where our concierge company came in and made it happen. Recently, another Singaporean client of ours with a penchant for fast cars had a unique request. For his 40th birthday, he travelled with five of his friends to Sydney. They had wanted to arrive at the airport, hop into super cars, then drive to the hotel in a convoy. HSBC Jade goes beyond banking. The reason why we do this is because our clients say they’re so busy trying to run their businesses and increase wealth. When they have spare time, they spend it with their family. They want bespoke experiences but they have no time to curate them. HSBC Jade helps to build their social capital.
We fondly remember the first HSBC Jade Origins of Luxury event we attended last year. What inspired the creation of this series?
When we launched Jade in 2016, I specifically said: “Let’s get the banking right. Once we’ve done that, let’s think how we can support the clients more”. I got reminded of this yesterday when I popped into a mall. I saw plenty of high-end boutiques, but that is mass luxury. That is not not what Jade clients are looking for. They are VIP members of everything — they’re looking for bespoke luxury, something that answers the question of ‘what else’?. This series was created with the hope of offering luxury through a different lens.
We remember it as being unique, with interesting partners such as the Singapore Music Box Museum. How do you pick your partners?
When we select partners, we look for ones that can give our clients access to things they’d otherwise not have access to. Last year, Christie’s gave a preview of a particular private collection of art that belonged to the Rockerfellers, a very wealthy family in the United States. Unless you’ve bought art with Christie’s, you will not have access to it. Let’s talk about travel.
Are Singaporeans curious about exotic destinations?
See, when you think about exotic destinations, you wouldn’t think of going on a cruise to the arctic. Yet our clients want to put on thermal rubber suits and dive into the cold with the seals. They also want luxury rail, like a seven-star hotel on wheels in places like Nepal, Laos, and a lot of other places, which, historically, you can only experience in less than comfortable conditions.
What, to you, is important to the affluent client when selecting a bank?
As a baseline, you must trust your bank. Banking is built on trust. Firstly, can a bank effectively manage a client’s wealth? I would like our clients in Jade to see that we let them have more fun, free up their time, let them experience more with their money, and learn more in their spare time. Clients will be loyal to banks that create positive memories for them.