What it does: Hatton National Bank (HNB) is a private commercial bank in Sri Lanka. They have over 250 branches across the island with over 4.7k employees.
Best known for: Several accolades, like being named ‘Best Retail Bank in Sri Lanka 2017’ by Asian Banker Magazine and ‘Bank of the Year’ for 2012, 2013 and 2017 by The Banker, a UK magazine. It’s also known for unique microfinancing ventures.
Financials: HNB recently gained Rs 15.5 billion in profit after taxes stemming from 121.1 billion income. Total assets are currently valued at over Rs 1 trillion, with earnings per share at 31.50.
The good: High profile bank. Choice banking experience.
The not so good: High workload.
Hiring grads with degrees in: business and management; accounting and finance.
HNB began in 1888 at the hill station of Hatton. It immediately became a vital resource for thousands of plantation workers in the area. This early success allowed it to establish more branches in the decades to come, eventually becoming proficient with other forms of consumer lending, particularly in the small-to-medium enterprise (SME) sector.
Its most notable innovation was the use of ‘mobile banking’, only mobile phones didn’t exist! They utilised travelling clerks in vans. This still uses this method to serve rural clients.
The bank cemented itself in local culture by sponsoring the first-ever cricket test match, pitting the Sri Lankan national team against England. It continues distinguishing itself as a community and SME-focussed commercial and development bank to this day.
This demanding workplace provides a realistic insight into the Sri Lankan commercial banking sector, exposing graduates and trainees to all manner of management, audit and accounting pathways. Daily performance reviews can keep you on the right track, but that can be daunting for some. This allows for accurate, merit-based promotions. The only impediment is the extensive hierarchy. You’ll need to be both patient and skilled to make it far at Hatton. If you’d rather go elsewhere after one or two years, the experience here is valued across the sector.
Previous employees report a generally friendly working environment across most branches, with free lunches and other benefits contributing to the positivity. They have regular social events, such as the annual Hatton Sports Fiesta, which involve not only athleticism but fancy dress competitions too.
HNB’s vision is to be the leading financial services provider to ‘inspired people’. Its mission is to combine an ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ with technology to exceed stakeholder expectations.
It has six key values:
A 2012 embezzlement scandal indirectly involved Hatton in 2012, as UN development funds were being funnelled through it, but the bank itself claimed no involvement despite one of its employees collecting payments on behalf of various ‘ghost companies’ mis-using its services.
The bank launched a microfinancing program for rural communities in 1989 called “village reawakening”, which was scrutinised in a World Bank discussion paper. One of the paper’s four aims was to discern to what extent a profit-seeking bank should have a hand in microfinancing. The report concluded that private intervention in this sector was desirable, as it isn’t reliant on government intervention to stay afloat. But their motive, understandably, was primarily profit.
HNB uses an ‘Environmental and Social Management System’ to assess their environmental and social impact. It operates by creating a framework of criteria to assess all operations against. They report quarterly on their environmental and risk management outcomes. This model is based on similar accountability standards adopted in the UK.
To combat climate change, the bank has included mitigation imperatives in its portfolio. It also boasts a portfolio of products encouraging healthy activities, such as savings accounts tied directly to the clients’ physical fitness level. This provides improved interest rates and other benefits to customers that commit to their fitness routines.
While micro-financing initiatives do generate profit, which may not be seen as strictly altruistic to some, they still help communities thrive. Between 1989 and 1995, the village reawakening program elicited 12,645 unique borrowers, with offerings tailored to each village’s overall employment statistics, facilitating entrepreneurship.
They’ve since expanded these efforts. A 2018 deal with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) saw US $20 million contributed in microfinancing guarantees. This provided access to formal financial services disenfranchised Sri Lankans otherwise wouldn’t have gotten. The deal came off the heels of a US $100 million infrastructure loan in 2015 from the ADB, offsetting the immense need for infrastructure funding in the country (7% of GDP). HNB may have profited from these ventures, but the steadily-healing nation it inhabits has too.