This initiative to improve the Welsh language of branch colleagues utilises the skills and knowledge of fluent Welsh speakers in the bank, in addition to using online resources produced by the Welsh Assembly as part of their WG 2050 Welsh speakers plan, a strategy to reach one million Welsh speakers and double the use of Welsh by 2050.
Jackie Uhi, HSBC UK’s Head of Branch Network, said: “We have a long proud history of providing banking services in Wales and in Welsh dating back to the 1760s and we were even the first bank to offer a Welsh language credit card.
“We are extremely proud to have kept the Welsh language alive within our business in Wales. It is great to see use of the Welsh language become more prevalent in recent times, and as a service provider we are excited by the opportunity to engage more in Welsh, formalising the support we are able to give our customers across Wales.
“We want to give any customers wanting to speak Welsh that option, and I am pleased to see over 50 branch colleagues are working on improving their Welsh-language skills to make that happen, with more colleagues expressing an interest in doing the same.”
Jackie Uhi added: “If there isn’t a Welsh speaker available at that moment in the branch, we will arrange for the customer to receive a call back to converse in Welsh. With customers often preferring to deal with many significant life events in person, especially with sensitive and emotional topics like bereavement, this additional support could make a great deal of difference to customers in need.”
Mathew Thomas, Hybu (Promotion) Officer at the Welsh Language Commissioner’s office, said: “Research shows that customers value the opportunity to use Welsh with banks, and we’ve seen that business leaders see the language as an advantage when trading in Wales.
“We welcome this initiative which will give HSBC customers increased opportunities to use the Welsh language when dealing with the bank.
“Being able to speak Welsh is a valuable lifelong skill that HSBC colleagues will find beneficial, not only when serving customers, but in social circles as well. Learning a language takes time; and we encourage all Welsh-speaking HSBC customers to support the staff by giving them the opportunity to practice the language in branches.”
HSBC UK is also working on ensuring that any new signage in Welsh branches is in Welsh first, and that we can also offer brochures and customer literature in Welsh.
Customer requests branch colleagues may receive in Welsh:
The origins of HSBC UK’s business in Wales can be traced back to 1762, when the Banc y Llong (or Ship Bank) was founded in Aberystwyth. This banking firm is reputed to be the first bank established in Wales, and became part of Midland Bank through the North & South Wales Bank.
The North & South Wales Bank was founded in Liverpool in 1836 by a group of merchants, manufacturers and businessmen who were concerned that the existing banks in Wales were too small and localised to support the country’s new and rapidly developing industries.
They envisaged a network of branches which would extend throughout Wales. By 1908, the year in which it amalgamated with Midland, the Wales Bank had become one of the largest provincial banks in the UK with over 100 branches. From the amalgamation with the Wales Bank, Midland also gained several long-established businesses. The oldest of these was the Banc y Llong; others include Williams & Son which opened in Dolgellau in 1803, the Kington & Radnorshire Bank which opened in Knighton in 1808 and the Bala Banking Company which was established in 1864.
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HSBC UK serves around 15 million customers across the UK, supported by 26,000 colleagues. HSBC UK offers a complete range of retail banking and wealth management to personal and private banking customers, as well as commercial banking for small to medium businesses and large corporates.
HSBC Holdings plc
HSBC Holdings plc, the parent company of HSBC, is headquartered in London. HSBC serves customers worldwide from offices in 64 countries and territories in its geographical regions: Europe, Asia, North America, Latin America, and Middle East and North Africa. With assets of US$2,976bn at 30 June 2021, HSBC is one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organisations.