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Trusted partner in trade finance

nisthula@khaleejtimes.com Filed on August 1, 2021
Jamal Alvi, CEO, Habib Bank AG Zurich

One of the UAE’s first banks, Habib Bank AG Zurich (HBZ), forges long-lasting relationships and grows with its clients


Habib Bank AG Zurich (HBZ) is a family-owned and run bank that had its roots in Bombay, catering to traders from the heartlands of then British India. After the partition in 1947, the family’s banking operations moved to Karachi, Pakistan and was instrumental in setting up its new Central Bank, while becoming the largest privately owned bank named Habib Bank Ltd. When banks were nationalised in Pakistan, the family moved to Zurich and Dubai and started operations under HBZ umbrella. Over the decades, the Bank has received tremendous support from all stakeholders and the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) in particular. Today, it has banking presence in Switzerland, Pakistan, UK, Canada, Hong Kong, South Africa, Kenya and representative offices in Bangladesh and China.

UAE became the birthplace of commercial business for Habib Bank AG Zurich. The oil boom of the ‘70s and the emergence of Dubai as a trade and transit hub have served as catalysts in HBZ’s growth as a trade finance powerhouse. The bank has always stayed focused on its core customer segment — family businesses reflecting its own tradition and has expanded in the UAE with eight branches today.

Jamal Alvi, CEO, Habib Bank AG Zurich, stresses that the bank’s forte is its customer relationships. Entrepreneurs from the ’70s and ‘80s who have expanded tremendously since, maintain their association with the bank even today. Earlier this year, in a global Forbes survey of 43,000 clients across 28 countries Habib Bank AG Zurich was ranked fourth on how they rated banks on ‘customer centricity’. Last year, its Islamic Banking business — ‘Sirat’ won the award for the ‘Best Emerging Brand’ at the Malaysia Global Islamic Finance Awards.

Habib Bank AG Zurich’s best offering is its trade finance capabilities. SMEs/commercial clients receive complete banking services for their end-to-end trade needs. To further build on this trade expertise, HBZ is ensuring healthy coverage for the region’s top bilateral trading corridors. In parallel, the bank’s enhanced web/mobile platform have witnessed huge increase in remittance transactions being done remotely. These together are providing business customers an added advantage and convenience.

“We are currently strengthening our personal wealth management division for our business owners. We endeavour to be the banker of choice for the UAE business community segment by being a one-stop bank for our commercial customers,” explains Alvi of the bank’s vision.

On Swiss National Day, Habib Bank AG Zurich is launching commercial real estate (CRE) lending and a special campaign on mortgages for new customers. Alvi further adds “We are very proud of our Swiss heritage. We will continue to play a constructive role and strive to strengthen Switzerland-UAE ties through cross-border trade. We wish the great nation of Switzerland a Happy National Day.”

Nisthula Nagarajan





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