(L-R) Charles Sik, Managing Director of Personal Financial Services; Terrence Teoh, Head of SME Banking; and Yow Kuan Tuck, Managing Director of Business and Corporate Banking

Hong Leong Bank Berhad was adjudged the Best SME Bank in Malaysia for 2019 by The Asian Banker at the International Excellence in Retail Financial Services Convention held in Dubai recently.

Domenic Fuda, Group Managing Director and CEO of Hong Leong Bank said, “We are honoured to receive such a prestigious award. The recognition as Best SME Bank in Malaysia is a testament to our strategic investment to boost the capabilities and offerings to better serve our local SMEs.”

The awards jury commended Hong Leong Bank for the robust growth of its SME franchise, as well as the use of digital solutions to provide a frictionless SME experience allowing SMEs to focus on their core business.

For example, Hong Leong has developed a suite of innovative and comprehensive digital business and financing solutions that serve the needs of SMEs from cash management, advertising and promotions (A&P) solutions, as well as property financing and working capital.

Banks are diversifying their commercial loans offerings, as big corporate borrowers are increasingly moving towards equity funding. SMEs were traditionally seen as lending risks, but banks are now courting them with attractive rates and a suite of other business assistance goodies – a far cry from a decade ago when banks would only offer current accounts to SMEs. Virtually every retail bank in Malaysia now has a department dedicated to SME banking – including Maybank, Affin Bank, CIMB Bank, and Public Bank.

Hong Leong has seen SME loan growth under its SME banking initiative grow by 25.4% y-o-y and 9.2% q-o-q as at 31 December 2018. Terrence Teoh, Hong Leong Head of SME Banking said, “Hong Leong’s strategic FinTech collaborations have bridged financing challenges to reach underserved SMEs; for example, peer-to-peer (P2P) financing providers within the fintech space to support SMEs at different stages of a company’s growth.”

Adding further, Terrence said, “Hong Leong’s SME Banking has strategic focus within the SME segment, which has shown significant growth over the past year. After all, when SMEs grow, so do we.”