Standard Chartered targets wealthier customers in retail bank revamp

Mon Feb 9, 2015 5:28am EST
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By Lawrence White

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Standard Chartered Plc (STAN.L: Quote) will shift its retail banking focus to affluent clients from ordinary customers and urge them to bank online as part of a broader restructuring led by embattled CEO Peter Sands, a senior executive told Reuters.

StanChart's retail business is one of the first divisions the Asia-focused lender has targeted with cuts, announcing last month it would ax 4,000 retail jobs or 5 percent of its global workforce and close 80-100 branches.

The costs cuts and the shift to wealthy clients in Asia, the Middle East and Africa come as Sands, who some investors would like to see replaced, is under increasing pressure to revive the bank's fortunes after a troubled two years.

"We're steering away from clients who just want a personal loan to those who'll buy multiple products," Karen Fawcett, global head of retail clients at StanChart, told Reuters in an interview on Monday.

The bank's retail division contributes 30 percent of its revenues. Affluent and business customers represent just one fifth of its 10.4 million retail clients but account for about half of the division's profits.

Revenues from those clients have grown by 10 percent in recent years, compared with zero growth for revenue from less wealthy customers, Fawcett said.

Amid calls from some of the lender's top investors to stand down, Sky News reported on Friday that Sands had told senior staff on an internal conference call last week that succession planning has already begun.

Fawcett said she had not been present on the call.   Continued...

People walk past the main branch of Standard Chartered in Hong Kong January 8, 2015. REUTERS/Bobby Yip