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Responsible Selling

Responsible selling and marketing

At Standard Chartered we have always believed that treating customers fairly and adopting a responsible approach to selling our products or marketing our services is the key to an enduring customer relationship. Not only is such an approach in line with our core values and culture, but it is also critical to developing a sustainable business.

The unprecedented financial crisis has undoubtedly hit customer confidence in financial institutions. Across the industry, some investors suffered losses because they were sold products that were inappropriate for their risk profile. Consequently, the issue of responsible selling and marketing has moved to the top of the agenda for many financial regulators around the globe. We welcome this development and will work with regulators to ensure that safeguards and policies are in place to ensure consumers are protected from inappropriate sales practices. We will monitor and adopt new rules and regulations as they come into force in the markets in which we operate.

Our lead regulator, the UK's Financial Services Authority (FSA), has made Treating Customers Fairly a cornerstone of its principles of business relating to responsible selling and marketing. We welcome this move as it resonates with our own long-standing viewpoint.

While the FSA has outlined six outcomes to underpin its principle to treat customers fairly, we believe that treating customers fairly is about more than satisfying these standards. It starts from the day an employee joins us, when they experience our culture for the first time and see, first hand, that their colleagues passionately believe in behaving fairly in all dealings with customers. Treating customers fairly promotes loyalty and is at the heart of creating valuable, longer lasting relationships. We believe this is the key to a truly sustainable business.

Introducing appropriate governance measures and using management information ensures that we continue to improve our performance. In some markets in which we operate, such standards differentiate us from our local competitors and highlight us as a bank with international standards and capabilities.

The dislocation in financial markets has also demonstrated that responsible selling and marketing is not simply about knowing when not to lend but is just as much about knowing when to do so. As financial institutions have experienced tight liquidity conditions, so small businesses across the world have found it difficult to borrow money. Throughout this crisis we have maintained our disciplined approach to lending, continuing to meet the needs of these customers, whilst ensuring appropriate checks and balances are in place. We have also supported our Wholesale Banking clients through this difficult period by offering loans and trading lines. We have stood by clients who needed to make tough decisions to combat deteriorating market conditions and this has helped us to develop even stronger and more enduring relationships with them.

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Annual Report and Accounts 2009