2022 Winner – SCBHK Ong Lay Choo blazes a transformational trail at SCBHK – Retail Banker International Asia Trailblazer Awards



Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited’s (“SCBHK”) Ong Lay Choo, Managing Director, Head, Consumer, Private and Business Banking, Hong Kong won the Asia Traliblazer of the Year trophy at the Retail Banker International (RBI) Asia-Pacific (APAC) Awards 2022. Her outstanding leadership stood out during tough times as digital transformation changed the bank utterly and she withstood unprecedented challenges from the Covid-19 pandemic to political, economic and technological upheavals.

Under the low interest rate environment prevalent globally until very recent inflatory trends, optimizing growth wasn’t easy. Ong Lay Choo at SCBHK made a deliberate decision to put resources into expanding the digital wealth management (WM) capabilities of the bank to help clients more easily find and participate in growth opportunities where they could locate them.
This included extending investment account opening capabilities for securities and funds on SCBHK’s mobile app, plus adding the US market to the online equities platform.

The MyRM digital Relationship Manager tool also got a deposit order-taking function added to make it easier for customers to move their money in, and RMs got the ability to analyze portfolios to move clients up the value chain and answer any of their queries more easily from home or the office.

Wealth Management Connect allows clients to access investment opportunities in the Greater Bay Area and Personalized Investment Ideas platform was introduced to enable data-driven persoanlization in advisory services. These efforts have resulted in 25% growth in digital wealth transactions over the past two years, while digital wealth income has doubled.

Digitalization of the retail banking operation continues apace with a new co-branded Q Credit Card unveiled to AlipayHK’s customer base bringing new app-centric younger customers to SCBHK’s brand. Additionally, a digtial trade finance solution co-branded with GS1 HK performs a similar function for small business SME clients. The upshot of these and numerous other digital initaitves at the bank is more than 1 million digital customers now count on SCBHK for their 21st century banking.

Digital income has doubled over the past two years. In addition:

  • Digital transactions now account for more than 80% of all service transactions, as activity at the branch banking / ATM estate declines.
  • Digital payment transactions now account for over 90% of total payments and transfers.

Staying connected
Ong Lay Choo believes that staying connected with clients is crucial, particularly during uncertain times, which is why weekly communication was sent to WM clients with relevant bite-size market views and insights, supported by weekly live trend webinars during the Covid-19 outbreak. Retail bank customers could book safe socially distanced appointments online to those emergency branches that remained open to help ensure omnichannel service was always accessible to everyone.

There have been a lot of uncertain times recently with the economic ill effects of the pandemic and its inflationary aftermath; and technological change being accelerated by the need for self-serve capabilities during the pandemic’s lockdowns. It’s been a tough few years, but that is when leadership shines out. It is why Ong Lay Choo was recognized as a trailblazing individual by the RBI APAC Award judges in 2022. She has successfully accelerated omnichannel and digital adoption projects at the bank, staff upskilling and work from home (WFH) benefits, while simultaneously disbursing Covid-19 relief payments with the help of colleagues. For instance:

For personal banking clients, Mortgage Relief Programme and a 100% Personal Loan Guarantee Scheme were launched, covering more than 2500 cases and drawdown amount of clsoe to US$600m.

For business banking clients, Ong Lay Choo supported a number of relief measures, such as a small to medium-sized enterprize (SME) Financing Guarantee Scheme; Pre-Approved Principal Payment Holidays; Interest Subsidies; and so on. A total of 2700 business loans with a drawdown of US$584m were granted.

"Ong Lay Choo at SCBHK made a deliberate decision to put resources into expanding the digital wealth managaement (WM) capabilities of the bank"

To cultivate togetherness and teamwork, staff engagement has always been one of Ong Lay Choo’s key priorities. She communicates key strategic priorities clearly at the beginning of each year, taking the lead so that everyone works towards the same digitalization and other goals. In order to monitor progress and ensure agility, she engages with teams frequently throughout the year to track execution targets, learn about potential problems and provide guidance, support and encouragement to push ahead with innovative ideas that advance the self-serve customer- centric agenda she advocates.

Personalized and contextual digital services everywhere is the end game that is hoving into view, with omnichannel support and traning aids to support digital adoption also readily available to ensure no customer is left behind. No employee is left behind either thanks to the range of upskilling and training options available to staff under Ong Lay Choo’s trailblazing leadership.