Photo: HSBC Hong Kong

We are delighted to announce that HSBC is rolling out the Sunflower as a pioneer programme in Hong Kong, which will provide customers with a lanyard to discreetly indicate their needs for additional assistance at the designated branches.

This launch forms part of HSBC's introduction of first-in-town support services specifically designed for customers in Hong Kong with mental health challenges. These new services, comprising tailored third party support, financial education modules and fee waivers, are responding to the general decline in mental health among Hongkongers in recent years partly due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The services are launched in partnership with Baptist Oi Kwan Social Service, alongside support from various NGOs, including Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui Welfare Council, New Life Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association, OCD & Anxiety Support Hong Kong and Richmond Fellowship of Hong Kong.

The Sunflower lanyard is available at designated branches or via the partnering NGOs. Various measures are also available to these customers, including:

  • Quiet corner – a meeting room at each designated branch to allow privacy when discussing the customer’s personal situation
  • Fee waivers – upon NGO referral, customers may apply for waivers for paper statement fees or late payment charges for credit cards and loans.
  • Wealth Coach – tailored financial education modules focusing on topics such as savings, budgeting, credit scoring and managing debts with the purpose of helping our customer learn more about financial management”

Christina Yung, Head of Diversity & Inclusion and Financial Vulnerability, Asia Pacific, HSBC, said,

“In Hong Kong, we know there are many people living with mental health struggles, and that these challenges are often invisible to others.  To drive our disability-inclusive agenda, we are delighted to be partnering with the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme to provide customers an option to self-identify their need for more support at our designated branches. The new services focus on addressing customers’ concerns of privacy and the need for more personalised support.”

According to a survey conducted by mental health charity Mind HK, nearly half (49.4 per cent) of Hong Kong adults have experienced symptoms of mild to severe depression after the outbreak of the fifth wave of the pandemic. HSBC’s new services have been developed based on a study jointly run with Baptist Oi Kwan Social Service, which indicates that customers with mental challenges are looking for dedicated support, more financial education and a subtle way to request for assistance. The service will be available in 9 designated branches at some of the most convenient locations within HSBC’s service network.

With the new service, customers can now authorise in writing a trusted person, often a family member, to help manage and monitor their accounts, such as review credit card and loan applications, debt settlement and repayment plan discussions with the bank. The arrangement does not allow them to make transactions on behalf of the customers, to ensure adequate support for the customers, while maintaining a certain degree of autonomy.

Scarlet Poon, Service Head, Integrated Mental Health Services, Baptist Oi Kwan Social Service said,

“The correlation and causal relationship between mental health and financial wellness are complicated but direct. Either of them can be the cause or result of the other. Our experience shows that lack of knowledge and support is one of the common reasons that result in various problems and vicious cycles in many cases. We are grateful to see HSBC launching this new initiative which is not only addressing those in need of this help, it also mitigates mental health problems and benefits the entire Hong Kong community.”

As a trusted steward for the Hong Kong community, HSBC has introduced a number of first-to-market banking services to support underprivileged customers, including ethnic minority service support, HSBC Basic Banking Account with Independence for people with dementia or diminished mental capacity, as well as basic banking account service for Hong Kong residents without fixed abode.

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