Kuala Lumpur, 17 February 2021 – With growing demands for businesses to drive sustainability as a business agenda and strategic priority in protecting the natural environment, human and ecological health, while at the same time, seeking to push greater innovation in business models, products and services, Hong Leong Bank (“HLB” or the “Bank”) recently hosted its inaugural virtual ‘Sustainability Roundtable’ as a platform to engage its SME and Corporate clients on a sustainability transformation conversation. This platform aims to raise awareness and inspire change with regards to best practices and the challenges faced by several key industries as they embark on their sustainability journey.
Similar to digital transformation, many companies are very keen to include more sustainable practices in their operations, but lack the know-hows as well as the fear of potential high costs may have discouraged them from making the shift. This prompted the Bank to engage industry stakeholders including related associations and organisations as well as companies who have embarked on sustainability transformation to share and discuss the benefits and challenges in sustainability practices for the benefits of its clients.
Yow Kuan Tuck, Managing Director for Business & Corporate Banking of HLB shared that with the increasing pressure for businesses to respond to the broad range of sustainability threats and risks they face, it is important that they embark on a transformation towards sustainability to find new opportunities and avenues to protect and sustain the future of their business.
“At HLB, sustainability is a priority to us and we want to empower our clients to not only adopt and assimilate ESG considerations as part and parcel of their business strategies and operations, but also help them to innovate and turn their sustainability risks into opportunities. We recognise that moving towards sustainability is a big change for many of our clients and as such they will require partners to help in their sustainability transformation - from the right financing from the Bank, to knowledge of best practices from relevant authorities and leading companies in their industries.
To this end, we have adopted an inclusive approach where we work closely with them to support them as a financial and, business partner which includes assisting in risk assessment and mitigation in their transformation journey. We hope that SMEs and corporates find the ‘Sustainability Roundtable’ insightful and beneficial and subsequently enable them to see holistic opportunities in sustainability transformation which can contribute to long-term competitive advantages as well as for the betterment of society and environment. The Bank will be organizing more roundtable sessions in partnership with relevant trade associations, authorities and leaders from industries in manufacturing of rubber, chemicals, metals, forestry, agriculture, palm oil, and mining or quarrying, in the pipeline throughout the rest of the year,” added Yow.
The Bank strengthened its own sustainability practices by launching its Business & Corporate Banking ESG Framework last September. The Framework serves as a foundation to help the Bank incorporate ESG considerations in its credit evaluation of its SME and Corporate customers, underlining its efforts towards building a vibrant and sustainable ecosystem for businesses, communities and the environment. The engagement session follows the Framework’s plans to promote the adoption of sustainable business strategies and practices amongst customers.
The Bank has also started supporting green sectors, which is evident in the Bank’s approval of RM1 billion in financing for renewable energy and energy efficiency related projects and investments since January 2019, including an allocation for SMEs looking to venture into renewable energy, with solar, biogas and small hydropower.
HLB kicked off the ‘Sustainability Roundtable’ with Plastics Manufacturing: Industry Outlook and Preparing for a Sustainable Future with key opinion leaders from the Plastics Manufacturing industry, with presentations from Datuk Lim Kok Boon, President of the Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association, Alvin Ang, Executive Director of Thong Guan Industries and Jazlyn Lee, SEA Regional Coordinator of WWF-Malaysia. The session was moderated by Dr. Adam Ng, Sustainable Finance Expert from WWF-Malaysia.
Quotes from panelists during the session: