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Grounded on heritage, firm in promise – BusinessWorld Online

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Notable of the early accounts of the Standard Chartered Bank’s long history in the Philippines is the note of national hero Dr. Jose Rizal who, while pursuing his advance studies in Paris, instructed his parents to send him money through Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China, former name of Standard Chartered Bank. The letter is taken from the Lopez Museum and Library Collection “One Hundred Letters of Jose Rizal to his Parents, Brothers, Sisters, Relatives,” by Jose Rizal, 1959, published by the Philippine National Historical Society.

More than facilitating transactions and regulating finances, long-standing banks are also witnesses to a nation’s history — from the struggles it faced to the progress it attained.

This can truly be said of Standard Chartered Bank (SCB), which has been supporting the Philippines in nation-building and, in turn, has gained the trust and confidence of the Philippine business community and the government through the years as the oldest international bank in the country. As it marks its 150th anniversary this year, SCB remains committed to be a leading financial institution that supports the Philippine economy — true to its promise of being “Here for good” — while moving forward towards sustainability and inclusivity.

SCB was first established in the country in 1872, taking the opportunities that opened in the nation’s capital, where significant trading business — coming from a number of British and American trading houses — was passing through.

With its first branch located in a modest lower story of a house in Binondo, Manila, then Chartered Bank’s early operations in the Philippines concentrated on financing machinery imports of the booming agricultural industries such as sugar, hemp, coconut, and shortly after copper, pig-iron, anchors, cordage, tobacco, coffee, and rice. The Manila operations, in particular, consisted chiefly of granting of accommodation secured upon export produce, imported merchandise, and promissory notes.

As worldwide demand for Philippine produce grew in the 1890s, the bank granted fixed loans to leading firms against sugar, hemp, copra, tobacco and coffee. It also financed shipments of sugar to China, Canada, and London; copra to Paris; and hemp to New York.

One of those who trusted the bank with his financial needs was the country’s national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal, who cited the Chartered Bank as a better choice for sending money in a letter he wrote to his parents in 1886.

“The day before yesterday, I received a draft of $200 which when collected in Francs gave me only 192, so 4% is lost. With more reason than ever, I repeat to you now what I have told you. If you are to send me money, do it by The Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China which is much better. Had you sent me those $200 through that House, they would have given me some 204 or 205 Francs,” the letter read.

The bank’s reputation further strengthened amid the passing of time — from American occupation of the country to World War II — as the bank continued gaining trust from clients like the government and keeping a strong presence in the country despite several historical challenges.

Later on, SCB Philippines brought significant contributions to development in the country as it has widely supported the commercial, industrial, and agricultural sectors and has helped greatly in the growth of some of the country’s exports.

Year 1969 was marked as a historic year when the two banks, The Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China, and The Standard Bank of British South Africa merged into what it is known today, Standard Chartered Bank.

Through the years, the bank has been instrumental in aiding the economic growth and development of the country, and actively progressed with its operations.

At present, SCB Philippines serves corporate and institutional clients, and solidifies its position as the bank of choice for cash management, corporate financing, loan syndication, and custody/securities services, among other services.

Having gained deep knowledge of the country, coupled with a strong global expertise network and pre-eminent cross border capability, SCB stands as a leading international bank in the country recognized for providing bespoke and innovative financial solutions for its clients. The bank is the leading Bookrunner for Philippine G3 bonds, having been actively involved in 75% of G3 currency issuances by Philippine issuers in 2021 (according to the 2021 Bloomberg league tables). The bank also holds the top Bookrunner spot for Philippine FIG PHP bonds which the bank has consistently held since 2018.

Testament to its leadership position is the host of awards the bank has received over the years. Recently, SCB Philippines was given the Top Corporate Issue Manager/Arranger Award (Bank Category) and Top Five Corporate Securities Market Maker by the Philippine Dealing System Holdings Corps and Subsidiaries (PDS Group); Best in Foreign Market Coverage Award by the Fund Managers Association of the Philippines; the Best Sub Custodian Bank by both the Global Custodian Awards and The Asset Triple A Servicing Awards; and the Best Bond Adviser (Global) by The Asset Triple A Country Awards.

As it moves forward beyond its historic past, SCB further commits to being a “Force for Good,” by promoting economic activity with positive social impact. One of the main ways SCB has been doing this is by supporting its clients in accelerating net-zero targets through sustainable finance. The bank has successfully assisted its clients with ESG issuances, in particular, acting as a Sustainability Structuring Advisor to the Republic of the Philippines’ (ROP) US$1-billion 25-year sustainability bond issuance and Sole Arranger to BDO Unibank’s PHP52.7-billion two-year ASEAN Sustainability bond offering earlier this year.

Alongside this effort, SCB is also promoting economic inclusion through its Futuremakers global initiative. Seeing how the pandemic made inequality worse, Futuremakers by Standard Chartered tackles inequality across SCB’s markets through fund raising and community programs that are anchored on the pillars of education, employability, and entrepreneurship.

It supports disadvantaged young people, to learn new skills and improve their chances of getting a job or starting their own business. In the Philippines, the bank works with local partners to provide capability trainings, seed funding and micro loans to lift economic participation of the youth, particularly women and girls. The bank’s community programs also promote digital adoption to align with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) digital payments push.

More than bearing witness to the Philippine development as the country’s longest-standing international bank, SCB Philippines remains steadfast and committed to play a significant role in boosting sustainable progress for the country.

A trailblazer in sustainable finance in the Philippines

Even as the world begins to pick up the pieces from a ravaging pandemic, it lies on the precipice of another great crisis: that which is brought about by climate change. The problem is far-reaching, intensifying with every passing year, and is severe enough to be dubbed “the biggest threat to modern humanity” today. Yet, the pandemic has proven that a global, united, collaborative effort can be a powerful force that can overcome any challenge. If individuals, enterprises, and organizations in both the public and private sectors can work together to find solutions to create a more inclusive, sustainable future, there is much reason to hope.

Green finance is one such solution. At its simplest, the World Economic Forum defines green finance as any structured financial activity — a product or service — that’s been created to ensure a better environmental outcome. It includes an array of loans, debt mechanisms and investments that are used to encourage the development of green projects or minimize the impact on the climate of more regular projects, or a combination of both.

In the Philippines, Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) is a leader in this space. The bank promotes sustainable finance to support economic growth, expanding renewables financing and investing in sustainable infrastructure where it is needed most.

The bank was mandated as a structural adviser of the Philippines Sustainable Finance Framework designed to support its sustainability commitments and set out how the country intends to raise green, social or sustainability bonds, loans, and other debt instruments in the international capital markets. The framework marks an important milestone for the country’s sustainability journey and the Philippine sustainable finance market more broadly, as it lays out the process that will be used to ensure transparency and disclosure of the use of proceeds, as well as the expected environmental and social impact of eligible green and social projects, in keeping with international best practices.

This is not the first time SCB has enabled sustainability-focused collaboration in the financial markets either. For over 150 years, it has aimed to provide banking services that help people and companies to succeed, creating wealth, jobs, and growth across some of the world’s most dynamic markets.

SCB led the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation PHP17.87-billion ASEAN sustainability bond which won Best Sustainability Bond at the 2021 The Asset Country Awards. The bank acted as sole lead arranger and bookrunner in this first ASEAN sustainability bond issuance out of the Philippines in 2021.

Both RCBC and SCB have aligned their sustainable finance frameworks to prioritize capital raising and lending to sectors that benefit the environment and society. These range from renewable energy, green buildings, clean transportation, and pollution prevention and control — through to affordable housing, water provision, education and healthcare.

The bank is also Sole Arranger to BDO Unibank’s PHP52.7-billion two-year ASEAN Sustainability bond offering earlier this year. This landmark transaction represents the largest-ever Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) issuance out of the Philippines. Proceeds of the issue are intended to diversify the bank’s funding sources, and finance/refinance eligible assets under the bank’s Sustainable Finance Framework.

SCB also acted as a Sustainability Structuring Advisor to the Republic of the Philippines (RoP) US$1-billion 25-year sustainability bond issuance.

These issuances affirm the bank’s position as the leading ESG bond arranger in the country, having been part of approximately 42% of all Philippine USD and PHP denominated ESG bond offerings to date.

Collaboration within any industry is crucial towards creating long-term impact, and SCB believes that finance plays a key role in enabling such changes. Through multiple partnerships, the bank helps individuals to build a positive future for themselves and their families, businesses to thrive and grow, and governments to deliver economic prosperity for the wider community.

A leader in Philippine banking

Standard Chartered has come a long way as a strong partner to the country’s economic development and nation-building. Through the years, the bank has sought to live up to its brand promise — to be ‘Here for good,’ by supporting its clients while promoting a positive impact on the wider economy, and by accelerating net zero, lifting participation and resetting globalization.

SCB had long been a pillar of excellence for the Philippine financial industry. The bank has been recognized as a top-rated custody and fund administration service provider to leading foreign and domestic institutional clients, and has been recognized as Consistent Category Outperformer, Market Outperformer and Global Outperformer in industry surveys. The bank received back-to-back Best Sub-Custodian Bank awards at the Global Custodian Awards 2021 for three consecutive years and The Asset Triple A Asset Servicing Awards 2021.

The bank also continues to invest in its technology platforms, alliance, and networks to deliver quick and uninterrupted service to its valued clients. This is part of the bank’s efforts in accelerating its digital transformation and increasing collaboration with corporates, FinTech companies and developer communities. SCB Philippines is one of the few global banks to roll-out Instapay in its e-channels and an open loop payment gateway service through its Straight2Bank Pay solutions providing clients with access to online collections from various InstaPay, PESONet, and Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) participating institutions. The bank has also launched its Open Banking Application Programming Interface (API) services geared towards providing efficient services to its clients including their cash requirements, notifications, and real-time alerts.

Through its digitalization journey, the bank continues to enhance its capabilities allowing it to service the growing and complex needs of its clients in trade and commerce.

“We will continue to leverage on our extensive network, local expertise and global capabilities to provide innovative financial solutions to our clients,” country CEO Lynette Ortiz said.

“It is crucial that we ensure sustainable development through our business, operations and communities,” Ms. Ortiz added.

With the bank’s broad range of banking capabilities and on-the-ground expertise, Standard Chartered is helping businesses and society to navigate through the current crisis with an aim to build a more equitable and sustainable Philippines.”

Committed to being a ‘force for good’

SCB helps uplift Filipinos’ lives, backs education and inclusion

Standard Chartered Bank has been helping communities to tackle inequality through economic inclusion in markets. In the Philippines, it has been supporting disadvantaged women and young girls, young farmers and microentrepreneurs to earn, learn and grow.

Having been supporting the country through financial services and nation-building for 150 years now, Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) is indeed “here for good.” Still, for the international bank, being here for good is not good enough. SCB also aspires to be a “force for good.”

Merging its commitment to being a responsible and sustainable organization, SCB not merely seeks to create prosperous communities but also provide long-term value.

Globally, SCB has been preparing the next generation and empowering them to build their own future. Futuremakers by Standard Chartered is the bank’s global initiative to tackle inequality and promote greater economic inclusion for disadvantaged young people in our communities through education, employability, and entrepreneurship. 

They would have the opportunity to learn new skills and have better chances to get a job or set up businesses.

In the Philippines, SCB partnered with SOS Children’s Villages to provide more than 1400 youth beneficiaries, particularly young women and people with disabilities, with decent employment and alternative sources of income through partnership development and various capacity-building interventions.

The bank’s initiative would pilot at least five business centers as venues for entrepreneurial training. It would also work with the government and private sector organizations for youth employability projects like youth mentoring, soft skills training, capacity building, organizational skills training, and reproductive health awareness. The project would also support the youth in their digital upskilling.

SCB also partnered with two microfinance institutions Tulay Sa Pag-Unlad, Inc. (TSPI) and the Alalay Sa Kaunlaran, Inc. (ASKI) to extend micro loans to women-led microenterprises to help them scale up their digital enterprises. The program also promotes digital adoption for microenterprises supporting the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) digital payments push.

This year, SCB Philippines will launch a COVID-19 Economic Recovery program to provide more funding to small businesses gravely affected by the pandemic to boost community-based economic activities.

Through the years, SCB has demonstrated its commitment to the communities.

For the past five years, the SCB Livelihood and Education for Agri/Aquaculture Development (SCB LEAD), one of the bank’s flagship programs under Futuremakers, has been supporting the farm school Catbalogan City Agri-Industrial School (CCAIS) in Samar.

The program equipped its senior high school and graduate students with skills and knowledge to help them become professional farmers. It also offered them entrepreneurial opportunities through the set-up of agri-businesses.

This year, SCB has provided CCAIS with an additional model farm technology in poultry raising, and seed funding for its youth beneficiaries to help them start with their home-based agri enterprises.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, SCB launched a US$50-million charitable fund to support victims of the pandemic. The bank was cited by Leathwaite, an executive search and human capital specialist firm based in London, for leading in the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

From the US$50-million fund, the bank used the US$25 million for immediate relief efforts in the most vulnerable communities. The bank donated US$10 million to Red Cross and UNICEF, and US$15 million was allocated to local NGO partners across its markets. The remaining US$25 million was allocated for COVID-19 recovery programs supporting the youth and women through education, employability and entrepreneurship.

In the Philippines, SCB supported COVID-19 relief efforts in partnership with Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP).

The bank provided 10,000 family food packs to the most vulnerable communities in the National Capital Region and Region IV-A. Aside from the food packs, the bank also distributed more than 11,000 sets of reusable protective personal equipment (PPEs) to more than 40 hospitals and treatment centres nationwide.

Leader in diversity and inclusion

Standard Chartered is committed to promoting equality in the workplace and creating an inclusive culture where its employees can achieve their full potential. The bank continues to provide a collective voice to drive change. For years, the bank has embedded diversity and inclusion into its organizational DNA, celebrated female role models and allies to reaffirm its commitment to gender equality.

In 2021, Philippines CEO Lynette V. Ortiz was chosen as the UN Women Philippine WEPs Awards Champion in the Leadership Commitment Category. The WEPs Awards honour Asia-Pacific private businesses that champion gender equality in the workplace, marketplace and community in alignment with the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs).

SCB ranked among the top 100 companies in Equileap’s 2022 Gender Equality Global Report and Ranking, and recognized on Bloomberg Gender Equality Index 2022 for the seventh year in a row. Financial Times also recognized StanChart as a diversity leader and signed a statement of support to the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles in 2018.

SCB offers its employees a differentiated workplace focusing on employee wellbeing, diversity and inclusion. Even before COVID-19 forced companies to adapt remote working, the bank has a flexible workplace policy already in place for years. At the onset of the pandemic in 2020, the bank immediately implemented flexible and split operations, safeguarding the health and safety of its employees by providing them with daily shuttle service and meals for two years.

The bank also formalized the implementation of its permanent hybrid working model.   This data-led approach to work combines remote and office-based working with greater flexibility in working patterns and locations with the objective to redesign jobs, enable its workforce and prepare for the way forward.

 


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