Reaffirming its leadership role in promoting financial inclusion and entrepreneurship at the grassroots of the domestic economy, HNB was crowned Best Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Bank in Sri Lanka at the recently concluded Asian Banker International Excellence in Retail Financial Services Awards 2019.
Hosted in conjunction with the Excellence in Retail Financial Services Convention 2019 at Conrad Hotel in Dubai, U.A.E, the awards are among the most rigorous, prestigious and transparent platforms for consumer financial services in the world.
“Sri Lanka’s SME sector continues to serve a vital role in the country’s economic growth, supporting the creation of livelihood generation and poverty reduction island-wide. Our own experience in supporting this vital sector spans decades, during which we have consistently sought to empower SMEs with personalized financial advisory services. In this manner we ensure that our SME clients are placed on a stable and sustainable path to increasing productivity and unleashing their growth potential,” HNB Deputy General Manager - SME & Midmarket, Jude Fernando said.
The bank’s winning performance at this year’s awards was determined based on its outstanding financial performance within HNB’s SME business combined with powerful SME-focused strategies and a value-centric approach to relationship building across the sector.
“When we look at the performance of some of our South Asian peers, we begin to see a vision of our true potential for the Sri Lankan SME sector. This vision is built on the promotion and development of SMEs with the capacity to generate broad-based economic growth.
“While access to finance remains a serious challenge, especially for SMEs that are just finding their feet, the ultimate test of the sector in our experience has not been access to finance, but rather, access to the technical knowledge necessary to up-scale a business and this is another area which HNB has channeled extensive resources to fill gaps in resources and technical knowledge,” HNB Managing Director /CEO, Jonathan Alles said.
The bank was also recognized for leveraging on its large network via strategic tie-ups to meet the diverse lending needs on Sri Lanka’s economy with expansion campaigns aimed at on-boarding of merchants to boost volumes within Card Merchant Acquiring, parallel to enhancing convenience levels for its clientele. Coupled with a dedicated sales team, the bank expanded its SME loan book significantly during the last year.
In presenting the award to HNB, the Asian Banker also acknowledged HNB’s success in providing a total value proposition to SME customers through the development of vibrant and transparent relationships with new CASA rich sources while also introducing WEBXPAY for SME clients, partnering with a reputable third-party firm to launch an integrated e-commerce platform to assist SMEs to transition in to the digital space with websites and cashless transactions.
As one of the first Sri Lankan banks to enter the sector, HNB has built a reputation as a respected leader promoting the development of the SME sector, for which the bank has continuously won recognition in local and international forums, including being previously crowned Best SME Bank by Asiamoney Magazine.