Integrity, trust and respect – core elements of Fair Dealing – are deeply rooted in all aspects of the relationships we nurture with our customers; from how we develop our products and services through to our after-sales care.
We ensure Fair Dealing remains central to our corporate culture by:
offering products and services that are suitable for our customers;
ensuring the competency of our colleagues in providing quality advice and appropriate recommendations;
providing clear, relevant and timely information so that our customers can make informed financial decisions; and
dealing with feedback in an independent, effective and prompt manner.
Our Fair Dealing Guidelines Committee champions Fair Dealing across the Group and assists the Board and the Senior Management in the delivery of Fair Dealing outcomes to our customers. As part of this, the Committee reviews and approves the action plans, guidelines, processes and practices to achieve Fair Dealing outcomes. It is responsible for establishing a management information framework for business functions to measure the achievements of Fair Dealing outcomes and conducts regular meetings with them to monitor their progress.
Our Product Sales Committee reviews and approves investment products distributed by UOB and its banking subsidiaries, as well as the relevant Product Due Diligence and Sales Governance Frameworks.
All UOB employees are required to complete an e-learning module on Fair Dealing every year. We reinforce our colleagues’ understanding of the importance of Fair Dealing through regular internal communication campaigns.
In addition, we hold an annual Fair Dealing workshop in Singapore where various business and support units share their service improvement initiatives with one another. These initiatives are developed based on customers’ feedback and the surveys that we conduct regularly across all customer segments.
At the workshop in 2017, more than 70 improvement initiatives were identified as part of our proactive and continual efforts to improve our processes, service standards and customer experience. The implementation of these initiatives has contributed to a 47 per cent rise in compliments and a 32 per cent decrease in complaints in 2017 from 2016, from our customers in Singapore.
Similar workshops will be organised across the region in 2018.
We are committed to improving the quality of our interaction and engagement with customers. To measure customer satisfaction and retention across our business and product groups, we use the Net Promoter Score (NPS) metrics which indicate the net likelihood of a customer recommending a company’s brand, product or service to others. The NPS is an established worldwide metric used to measure customer loyalty and to predict business growth.
Of the retail customers in Singapore who purchased investment and insurance products in 2017, 59 per cent stated they would recommend UOB to their friends and family, an improvement compared with 51 per cent the year before.
We take customer feedback seriously and have robust procedures in place to address their concerns promptly. We have guidelines to govern the complaint investigation and resolution process and an independent review panel to review complaints.
In 2017, we maintained our standard of resolving 98 per cent of general complaints within five business days. Our Group-wide training programme, The Art of Service Recovery, equips our employees with the necessary skills to resolve customer complaints and to turn challenging situations into positive outcomes. In 2017, we conducted four workshops for 180 colleagues from China, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. We received the Kindness At Work Certificate of Recognition from the Singapore Kindness Movement for The Art of Service Recovery programme.
We are also involved in industry surveys which provide an objective gauge of our service standards. The surveys include the Customer Satisfaction Index of Singapore (CSISG), a respected industry benchmark administered by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency and Singapore Management University. Our CSISG score in 2017 showed an improvement of 0.9 points to 71.7, compared with the year before.
Just as we are prudent in our business practices to ensure financial stability through credit cycles, we are committed to mitigating environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks in our operations.
One of the ways in which we support sustainable development is through responsible financing. The Bank has dedicated resources with clear roles and responsibilities to implement it. The Credit Committee approves our Responsible Financing Policy, which is embedded within UOB’s Group Corporate Credit Policy. This ensures that ESG considerations are integrated into our credit evaluation and approval processes. Management has oversight on ESG matters including climate change risks and opportunities which may impact our financing activities. Group Credit is responsible for ensuring that all ESG risks are adequately addressed and where necessary, borrowers or projects with high ESG risk will be escalated to the Group Credit Committee for further review and approval. Consistent with UOB’s overall risk management approach, ESG risks are managed through our three Lines of Defence control structure.
Our Responsible Financing Policy applies to all borrowing customers of Group Wholesale Banking. Under the policy framework, our account officers are required to conduct due diligence on all new and existing borrowers during the client onboarding process and annual credit review. Borrowers are assessed for material ESG risks and their track record in sustainable business practices. We have also implemented sector-specific Credit Acceptance Guidelines and have ESG checklists in place to help our account officers in identifying, assessing and reviewing ESG risks.
Our borrowers are classified based on the level of ESG risk inherent in their business operations. Those that fall within the following eight ESG-sensitive industries defined in The Association of Banks in Singapore’s (ABS) Responsible Financing Guidelines will be subject to enhanced due diligence with sector-specific guidelines.
Metals and Mining
We notify our borrowers of their need to adhere to our Responsible Financing Policy and seek their representation and warranties to ensure compliance, including with local ESG regulations in the countries in which they operate. We also encourage them to follow established industry standards, to obtain relevant certifications and to adopt best practices for proper water and waste management, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the management of occupational health and safety risks. The policy references international standards and conventions such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, Forest Stewardship Council and the World Heritage Convention.
We engage with our borrowers proactively and continually and work with them to improve their ESG practices. In addition, we monitor our borrowers on an ongoing basis for any adverse ESG-related news. For example, borrowers with any known ESG-related incidents will trigger an immediate review with the ESG risks to be addressed and managed appropriately. We require our borrowers to rectify any breaches of our policy within a reasonable timeframe with account officers responsible for monitoring their progress. However, if we deem our borrowers unable or unwilling to commit to managing the potential adverse impact of their operations, we may choose to review and to reassess the relationship.
Our Responsible Financing Policy also prohibits our financing of companies:
with operations in UNESCO World Heritage Sites, RAMSAR Wetlands, forests of high conservation value or sites with critical natural habitat;
without measures in place to manage or to mitigate the risk of air, soil and water pollution;
involved in the exploitation of labour, including forced labour and child labour that violates the rights of local communities;
involved in land clearance by open burning; and
involved in animal cruelty and the trade of endangered species as defined by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
We review our Responsible Financing Policy periodically. In 2017, we incorporated the requirements of the ABS Haze Guidelines into our policy in relation to the agriculture sector, in particular with regard to the financing of palm oil plantations. The Haze Guidelines were developed by ABS in consultation with Singapore banks, including UOB, and underscores the industry’s commitment to helping to address the transboundary haze pollution in the region resulting from land clearance by open burning.
In addition to the prohibition on open burning, we require our borrowers to comply with local regulations regarding the planting on peat and to work with local communities to put in place adequate measures on fire prevention, monitoring and suppression.
We review our portfolio’s ESG exposure periodically. As at 31 December 2017, all the borrowers in the eight ESG-sensitive industries had undergone the ESG risk assessment with relevant risks adequately mitigated and managed. The Bank had not had a significant concentration in any of the eight ESG-sensitive sectors, which collectively accounted for approximately 10 per cent of our total loan portfolio.
In 2017, we also stepped up our capacity-building efforts across the region with more than 80 per cent of our colleagues in relevant roles undergoing training on responsible financing. The training programmes enable them to understand our Responsible Financing Policy better, to strengthen their awareness of key ESG issues and to identify and to assess ESG risks more effectively. We also actively participated in sustainability forums and workshops organised by non-governmental organisations.
We will continue to work with prominent non-governmental organisations to conduct workshops for our employees and to engage with regulators to keep abreast of industry changes and evolving stakeholder expectations.
More than 100 UOB clients attended the Metals and Mining forum in Shanghai.
At UOB, we are committed to working with our clients in ESG-sensitive industries to promote ESG awareness. In September 2017, UOB organised a Metals and Mining Forum in Shanghai, China for more than 100 clients to gain insights from industry experts on environmental conservation, sustainable mining operations and the latest recycling technology and solutions for the sector.
Protecting our customers’ personal data and privacy is key to maintaining their trust in us. We have extensive policies and processes in place to ensure the confidentiality and security of our customers’ information. We are also committed to complying with the Personal Data Protection Act of Singapore and upholding industry best practices.
The main principles of our Personal Data Protection Policy are:
personal data must only be collected and used for purposes for which the customer has been notified and has consented to, or are permitted by law;
access and disclosure is strictly on a need-to-know basis;
the integrity and security of personal data is paramount; and
personal data that is no longer required for legal or business purposes must be destroyed securely in accordance with document retention policies.
Mindful of evolving threats and rising international data privacy standards, we conduct regular reviews to ensure the robustness of our systems. Data privacy impact assessments also form an integral part of our business and product development.
We have in place a data breach, complaint handling and escalation process and the Group Operational Risk Management reviews the monthly incident reports. Line data protection officers at functional and business levels in Singapore and locally appointed officers at overseas locations report to the Franchise Data Protection Officers in Singapore, who in turn report to the Group CEO. Our data protection officers ensure compliance with local and Group requirements and assist in investigating alleged breaches. In addition, our people undergo annual online training on the principles, policies and procedures for data privacy and security.
We respect our customers’ marketing preferences and have processes in place to record their consent to receive telemarketing calls and to allow hassle-free withdrawal of such consent. Customers have the right to request access to and correction of their personal data, and we facilitate their requests through various channels.
Information on our approach to privacy and data protection and contact details for our Data Protection Officers are available on our website. Our UOB Privacy Notice is also available online and at all branches in Singapore.
In 2017, there were no legal proceedings taken against UOB in respect of any data privacy breach, nor any fine or other sanction imposed on the Bank by the Singapore Personal Data Protection Commission.