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Basics of banking

Historically, the performance of financial institutions has been measured in terms of profit and loss, share price performance and brand prominence. Over the past decade, as profitability increased, many in the industry focused on the short-term and were reluctant to consider the minutiae of policy, procedure and monitoring. The terms 'corporate responsibility' and 'sustainability' were rarely mentioned within the mainstream financial services industry.

Events of the last few years have dramatically changed that picture. Traders in the dealing room, relationship managers in charge of global accounts, chief executives, investors and the financial media all talk about the sustainability of financial institutions. In formulating policy, governments and regulators are asking about the economic and social value of financial services products and how day to day business activities are linked to long-term returns.

At the core of this issue is a simple question: what does a bank need to do to ensure that it will be operational indefinitely? Our ability to answer that question gives us licence to operate and the confidence to make a commitment to serve the interests of our clients and customers.

This year we celebrated our 150th anniversary in both Singapore and Hong Kong. Doing business in markets we know intimately, offering products we understand fully to customers with whom we have long-standing relationships is at the core of our strategy. Our staff work in partnership with the communities in which we operate. The behaviour of our people underpins the way we run our business sustainably.

Our focus on the basics of banking is a key element of our sustainability strategy. We adopt a conservative approach to capital and liquidity management. We have a stringent risk management framework. We maintain a flexible cost base. Our approach allows us to offer a long-term commitment to our customers and the markets in which we operate. It underpins all the activity outlined in this Review.

For more information on our focus on the basics of banking and management of our liquidity, capital, risk profile and cost base, see our Annual Report and Accounts.

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Annual Report and Accounts 2009