Marriage of ‘convenience’

by By Dinah S. Ventura
(Manila City, Philippines)

What is a marriage without love and commitment? It would be a marriage of convenience — in paper only — where both partners benefit in some way but are not more deeply involved. But that is about a union between two people. When it comes to establishing ties between entities, similar qualities are required, but then it becomes a marriage of true convenience. By some extraordinary twist, a globally recognized banking corporation has brought to life this twist in “marriage” – one that is convenient, but strong; mutually beneficial, but caring.

Johanna Garcia, HSBC vice president of Corporate Affairs, explains that HSBC, just as in a lasting relationship, goes “the extra mile” for its partner businesses, adding that they are not just about impersonal banking transactions, but are equipped with relationship managers that help businesses meet their goals.

“A marriage has shared goals and open communication. There is genuine concern and unconditional love. In the same way, HSBC is poised to help businesses grow by offering solutions that are a tailor-fit for their goals and needs. Just like in a marriage of individuals, we realize that each client is different, with different goals and needs. We aim to provide them with the proper services that would help them meet their goals,” Garcia says.

In a rapidly shrinking world where businesses are going global, one needs the right partner. “A global company needs a global bank. HSBC’s Corporate Banking Group has the geographical scale that can match a multinational company’s worldwide footprint, and yet have the local knowledge on how things are done. At the same time, as the World’s Local Bank, we understand that your business is as distinct as you are. With more than 125 years of experience in the Philippines, we have witnessed the development of the Filipino enterprise. We were in the middle of it all. …Our experience (can) work for you,” Garcia shared. “Our edge is our capability, experience and global reach.”

According to HSBC’s senior vice president and head of Corporate and Institutional Banking Junie Velasco, a company needs a good bank – one that offers a comprehensive range of services that are flexible enough to fit the company’s needs. “For different types of customers, we have different solutions,” he said.

Indeed, from veteran businessmen to the new generation of entrepreneurs, HSBC has played a part in helping them succeed.

Hiro Asandas, president of the New Creation Manufacturing Inc., Hello Dolly Manufacturing Inc. and Chelsons Manufacturing Inc., ventured into business as a young man in 1959. He moved to the Philippines from India when he was just 23 years old in 1954. Seeing a need for better quality bed sheets at the time, he set up his own business manufacturing comforters, bed sheets, pillowcases and towels under his brand Canadian.

With guts, vision, “and of course Hongkong Shanghai Bank” (known today as HSBC), Asandas slowly but surely grew his manufacturing business and now also produces infant and children’s wear. He was able to acquire the license for Disney, Snoopy and Looney Tunes for an infant’s line and beddings in 1995. His company’s character department eventually expanded to hold the license in 10 countries with over 15 brands.

Janina Dizon-Hoschka, a third-generation jewelry designer whose family has been in the jewelry design industry for many years, is pleased with the way HSBC has enabled her to “cross boundaries,” as she expands her business to other parts of the world. Dizon-Hoschka joined the family business in 1991 and opened her own business, Janina, at the Peninsula Manila in 2007. Based in Manila, the jewelry designer travels extensively to attend trade fairs and look for opportunities to bring her designs abroad. She is currently exporting to Japan, India, France and Italy.

In the world of luxury brands, Anton Huang is a force to reckon with. Huang sits as executive vice president of three of eight companies under the conglomerate known as the Rustan Group of Companies, including Stores Specialists Inc. (SSI), Rustan Marketing Corp. (RMK) and Rustan Marketing Specialists Inc. (RMSI). SSI is largely recognized for its role in bolstering the upsurge in luxury retailing in the country. Its range of boutiques, carrying some of the world’s most prestigious brands, has placed the Philippines in the world’s shopping map.

Rustan’s was founded more than 50 years ago by his grandparents Bienvenido and Glecy Tantoco. Under Huang’s helm, the group of companies grew exponentially, taking the family’s department store business into the new age. “Sixteen years ago, SSI had three brands and a few stores. Now it has 42 brands and over 400 stores,” Huang shared, adding that they are also planning to open the first Hermes store in Manila come December. They are also “experimenting with e-commerce,” launching a web site selling school and office supplies under the company Office One Superstore.

Asandas, Dizon-Hoschka and Huang are some of the leading businesses who have chosen to bank with HSBC. “International banks help us build international relationships,” Huang noted. “That’s how it started with us and HSBC.”

“When we need them, they are there. And the name HSBC is recognized by our partners here and abroad. The name impresses others; it makes them think we could be trusted. And their service is excellent,” praised Asandas.

“They have 3,500 offices in 85 countries. HSBC’s international connections are vast,” added Dizon-Hoschka.

With a partner like that, companies of any size can expect to grow their business in this rapidly changing world.

Investing in Property

by DINAH S. VENTURA
(Manila City, Philippines)

INTEREST RATES AS LOW AS 6.99 PERCENT, WAIVED LOAN FEES AND CUSTOM REPAYMENT OPTIONS, IS HSBC ADVANCE’S HOME LOAN PROMO TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE?

For many, the dream of buying or building their own home seems farfetched. ‘Can I afford it?’ This is often the single biggest obstacle for ordinary Filipinos today. As hard as many of us work to achieve a dream like this, it often seems as if what we earn simply isn’t enough to make it happen.

Unless we hit a stroke of luck at the lottery, we are left with the following realistic choices: find an extra job or sideline; work abroad; or borrow money. The last option is the most promising as it offers the fastest reward – that is, if we apply with a bank and qualify for a home loan, we get to start with that dream right away!

“When the time is right, owning your own home climbs to the top of almost everyone’s priority list,” says Johanna Garcia, HSBC SVP and Head, Group Communications and Sustainability. She continues, “Whether it’s a cozy little studio for someone on the way up the corporate ladder, a starter house for a young couple, or an upgrade to an existing home to reflect a new phase in your life, nearly everyone dreams of one day buying their own home.”

‘LOWEST INTEREST RATE’

Anna (not her real name) bought a condominium unit in Mandaluyong a couple of years ago with the aim of living there eventually. But now that it is ready for moving in, she has decided to rent a bigger unit close to the apartment she was renting in Makati because of the proximity to her office. She has decided to rent out her new condo instead because she finds it impractical to spend time in traffic just to get to work. This, however, is the least of her worries. She is flabbergasted at the 18 percent interest rate she is paying through the in-house financing she got when bought the unit. Having learned recently that her bank’s interest rate is 9 percent, she is now trying to have it changed so that she will pay through her bank instead.

Anna was right to invest her hard-earned pesos on real estate, but she should have studied several factors before deciding on the property: location, budget, design concept and financing. Contemplating the total costs, not to mention the myriad other considerations mentioned, can indeed be daunting.

Ron Logan, HSBC SVP and Head, Personalized Financial Services, advises people not to let their fears stop them in their tracks. At a panel discussion on buying property hosted by HSBC to promote its latest home loan program, Logan said, “In the local retail banking arena, HSBC has always been known as one of the best providers of wealth management services, but what our customers may not know is that HSBC currently provides one of the strongest home loan propositions available.
Recognizing the upward trend in real estate, we’ve recently launched a breakthrough home loan package with the lowest interest rates available. And if you’ve already taken out a loan from another bank, come speak to one of our home loan specialists and see what we have to offer anyway. If you decide to transfer your loan to us, we’ll not only waive all service fees, we’ll even pay any penalties and expenses you incur from the loan transfer!” he revealed.

INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY

Aside from acquiring your own place to live versus paying rent your whole life, buying property can also be a source of income, as Anna has discovered. At the panel discussion, David Leechiu, Country Head of Jones Lang Lasalle Leechiu, talked about the ins and outs of “shopping” for property, such as where to look, what to look, what to look for and how much it could cost you, among others.

According to Leechiu, one can never go wrong with property as an investment. Property, he says, offers viable investment opportunities. “The Philippines is in the early stages of a boom,” he said. “Land values in some prime villages in Metro Manila such as Corinthian Gardens, Ayala Alabang, and Dasmarinas have increased from 50 to 100 percent,” he continued.

Citing some examples, Leechiu said that in Makati, one could buy a condo unit in Paseo Parkview for P3 million and then rent it out for P18,000 a month. A unit at Essensa at Bonifacio Global City can fetch up to P28 million with monthly rental at P165,000. A 160 sq. m. unit at another upscale location can be offered at a monthly rent of P115,000 for a 7 percent yield. And, Leechiu noted, rental income will last a long, long time. He added that these prices were based on unfurnished units and did not include association dues.
Leechiu says that before investing in property, prospective buyers should educate themselves on issues such as trends in interest rates, infrastructure, credit ratings, developer profiles, and changes in policies. “Respect your asset – real estate is long term. It will make money for you in good times or bad.”

In fact, condo rental can yield owners as much as 7 to 9 percent, Leechiu explained, compared to, say, the 4.59 percent earned from a year in Treasury bills.

“The demand for condo housing is very, very large,” he stressed, adding that out of 15 to 20 million households all over the Philippines, 5 percent will be able to afford a P2-million condominium unit. This is one reason big developers like SM, Ayala, and Robinsons have gone into lower-end projects, where units go for about that price.

IMPORTANCE OF DESIGN

“Design has a very important role in determining the price of property,” said Luigi Sison and Cocoy Leyva of 3Arkitektura.
Investing in property is a huge step, but one should not make the mistake of neglecting the design aspect. “Choose your architect well to create the home you can live in for a long time. Professional advice is important so that you don’t end up with a place that looks dated after a few years. Strive for a style to last you a good 10 years,” advised Sison.

“Although it can be a bit more difficult to maintain, the Modern Minimalist is a popular and affordable design to execute,” Leyva added.

“When hiring an architect,” he said, “figure out what you want and set your budget.” Asked for a ballpark figure when building a home, the architects revealed that normally, a good benchmark is P20,000 to P25,000 per square meter for a starter home, not counting the lot price. Going higher, at P30,000 per square meter, for instance, you can have better finishes.

The use of reinforced concrete, steel casement for windows, asbestos, incandescent lighting, and hazardous materials like lead, are becoming outdated, Sison said. “Homes now use more steel-framed structures, bigger window and wall openings, compact fluorescent lighting, gypsum boards and fibercement boards, and synthetic stone.”
When asked what the common mistakes are when people attempt to build their first home, the architects said, “Clients trying to play the role of architect, engineer, and interior designer, hiring a manong carpenter to execute photos plucked from a magazine, or hiring a fly-by-night contractor and pseudo designer.”
They suggest that hiring a professional to plan the project is wiser in the long term. “Paper is cheap so make your mistakes on paper. And if you fail to plan, you plan to fail!”

Indeed, planning well is the key to achieving any dream. With support from institutions and experts that care, “you might be surprised at how close you actually are to realizing that dream,” as Johanna Garcia so aptly puts it.
Log on to www.hsbc.com.ph or call (02) 85-800 or (02) 976 80 00 for more information.

EastWest Bank: Something good happens to local bank

by Geraldine Rullan-Borromeo
(Manila, Philippines)

Published in the Daily Tribune Life 25 October 2012

In the world of cold corporate banking, a personal touch differentiates one bank from another. Entering just any establishment with whom one has not established an ongoing banking relationship will usually not warrant personalized service. This is the kind of service that assures one of their importance in that bank regardless of the amount of their investment.

Often, corporate banks that have opened branches in every corner of every city in the metro, offer a pseudo-personalized banking approach that only offers convenience as far as location access is concerned. Often, other customers of other branches not known to the banking officers are accorded less than personalized approach. This is a common banking practice that makes one feel that he has just drowned in the collective sea of customers in a big corporate bank.

EastWest Bank, in recently launching a new corporate signature, unveils its new corporate strategy to bring itself closer to each customer’s needs, transforming itself from being a mere big corporate bank to deliver its brand promise that EastWest “makes good things happen.”

After an in-depth brand assessment and audit by FutureBrand, the Singapore-based international branding expert commissioned by EastWest Bank, EastWest ties up its commitment with its signature. The brand color is a refreshing green that speaks of rebirth and regrowth, with purple and magenta, giving off a burst of color and creativity that taper the arrows of customer-oriented direction of the bank.

The colors are non-traditional for a banking institution, another signal that EastWest delivers banking services with a fresh approach to its customers in a more personal and vibrant way that addresses their needs.

EastWest Bank president and CEO Antonio Moncupa Jr. said, “The new logo was created from two arrows representing the directions of the bank’s name, coming together to symbolize the relationship between bank and customer, in the heart of which good things happen. It also communicates our intent to become a world-class service provider, and our focus on customer benefits and aspirations consistent with our new brand tagline, ‘Your Dream. Our Focus.'”

EastWest Bank chairman of the board Jonathan Gotianun said, “The rebranding exercise is part of our holistic effort to bring EastWest Bank to a higher level of performance, competitiveness and strength. It is not just about changing our logo or adopting new corporate colors. Our brand represents the value the bank delivers to our customers and our brand promise to them. We hope this rebranding effort will help focus our energies and align all our efforts consistently and more effectively towards delivering our brand promise to our customers.”

EastWest Bank’s new logo heralds its corporate rebranding in terms of service, portfolio and, access to customers. EastWest continues to offer new banking services like the reloadable pre-paid Visa Card that can be loaded up to P100,000 and the passbook + debit card savings account, an unusual pairing for most banks, but is like coffee and donuts for EastWest Bank. Providing documentation and easy access to cash is just one of the ways EastWest Bank focuses on its clients’ needs. Its Dream Home Package offers a loan amortization for only P6,988 for every P1 million loan. The East West Auto Loan promo comes with a chance to win a dream package until Nov. 6. East West Bank also offers a Titanium All-in-One Cash Rebate Card for essentials like supermarket, gas and drugstore purchases. Through all these banking innovations, EastWest Bank makes good its brand promise.

For more information, visit the nearest EastWest Bank or visit www.eastwestbanker.com or call (632) 888-1700 for Metro Manila. For domestic toll-free, call 1-800-1888-8600.