Chaya Jayawardane, Senior Vice President of Retail Banking at Union Bank, provides valuable insights into the bank’s remarkable journey as one of the industry’s youngest commercial banking entrants. She delves into Union Bank’s successful foray into the high-end private banking sector, highlighting its strong emphasis on personalized services and tailored solutions to cater to the diverse financial needs of clients. In addition, Chaya discusses Union Bank’s exclusive health and wellness insurance offerings, comprehensive wealth management services, and the bank’s unwavering commitment to growth and expansion within this segment.
Can you talk to us about Union Bank and its role as a banking partner and your preferred customer segments?
About 9 years ago, as part of the Bank’s new strategic vision, we placed greater focus on Retail Banking, and one of our early successes was expanding our presence in the high-end private banking segment. As a result, with a greater understanding of customer needs we recognized the need for differentiation in a competitive market. To be an active contender in this segment, it was imperative to offer a one-stop shop for their financial needs, along with personalized and customized service offerings.
Our Union Bank Elite Circle private banking segment was further enhanced with this understanding, with specific eligibility criteria for clients to join. We placed a strong emphasis on building relationships, providing experienced relationship managers who offer door-to-door services and are accessible at all times, even for clients living abroad. Flexibility and convenience became key aspects of our service.
Another important insight was that many clients, particularly from multi-generational families, still value human interaction over digital interfaces. While we embrace digitalization, we ensure that clients who prefer personal interactions receive the attention they desire.
Privacy and confidentiality are paramount in our service. We safeguard our clients’ information, ensuring that it remains confidential, even among family members.
These principles set us apart in the market and have been key to our success.
What value proposition do you offer your High Net worth (HNI) Customers?
Internally, we focus on five key pillars to serve this segment effectively. The first pillar centres on personalized and customized offerings, backed by dedicated relationship managers who adapt their approach based on the client’s location within the country. The second pillar emphasizes pricing and special fees tailored to each client, taking into account the overall relationship and evolving banking needs. Our third pillar involves savings and promotional activities specially designed for this segment, addressing their unique needs, which often revolve around lifestyle, health, and education.
The fourth pillar highlights global access and convenience, providing uninterrupted services even during economic downturns like the COVID-19 pandemic. Lastly, our fifth pillar introduces advisory and consultancy services, particularly in the realm of wealth advisory. We’ve partnered with experts in various fields, such as tax consultancy to address the constantly changing tax landscape, estate management for issues like wills and property transactions, and comprehensive wealth advisory to guide clients in their investment journey.
These five pillars collectively ensure that our clients receive tailored, comprehensive, and expert support across their various financial needs and circumstances.
Could you elaborate on the health and wellness insurance solutions?
Initially, most segments had international coverage, including medical insurance. However, the evolving COVID-19 landscape and rising medical expenses in the country highlighted the need for additional support in this sector. We have established an exclusive partnership with our insurance provider to tailor offerings specifically for this segment, encompassing travel, health, and education coverage.
These customized insurance products cater to various needs, such as funding education abroad or ensuring a specific financial goal for a newborn child. Many clients have already taken advantage of our travel insurance, with several successfully filing claims and providing positive feedback. Our services offer convenience and comprehensive coverage, eliminating the hassle of dealing with multiple insurance providers.
What can customers expect from your Wealth Management and Advisory services?
Wealth management is essentially the beginning of an investment journey. Each person must assess their investment needs, desired returns, financial goals, and risk tolerance. NAMAL with its extensive market experience, provides valuable support in this regard. We aim to optimize returns by understanding each client’s investment journey and ultimate destination.
Clients have the flexibility to create a portfolio tailored to their objectives, which may consist of multiple or single assets. This customization is based on individual requirements, focusing on investment and the expected return.
What are your plans to grow this segment of the business?
We have a significant commitment to this segment, marked by our strong market presence and exceptional customer feedback. Our dedication to delivering tailor-made solutions and our exclusive invitation-only onboarding process guarantees a truly personalized experience.
We understand that the demand for our services extends far beyond the Western regions and caters to multiple generations within families. Our new offering extends these benefits to the entire family, whether it’s the grandchild, son, spouse, or parents – all receive the same advantages.
Currently, our Union Bank Elite Circle Centre, renowned for its amenities such as well-appointed meeting rooms and a comfortable environment conducive to discussions, has received resounding acclaim. These meeting rooms are highly sought after, not just for banking purposes but also for private meetings and various business activities. To meet this growing demand, we have ambitious plans to expand these facilities, both in Colombo and the surrounding areas, with a particular focus on target cities.
Our Union Bank Elite Circle centres are designed to provide the most convenience and security, alleviating the challenges posed by traffic and logistics. Whether it’s land transactions or business meetings, individuals are welcome to utilize our premises without any obligation to bank with us. Furthermore, each branch features a dedicated branded desk, ensuring effortless access to our services, whether for banking or specific business needs.