Best Sustainable Treasury Solution Highly Commended: Sunway Belfield Sdn Bhd

Published: Jan 2024
Photo of Wong Li Yoong, Shereen Heng Swee Lian, Sunway Belfield Sdn Bhd and Jonathan Teh, HSBC.

Photo of Wong Li Yoong, Shereen Heng Swee Lian, Sunway Belfield Sdn Bhd and Jonathan Teh, HSBC.

Shereen Heng Swee Lian

General Manager – Finance
Sunway Belfield logo

Established in 1974, Sunway Property is the property arm of the Sunway Group and is now one of Malaysia’s top multinational property construction corporations.

in partnership with

HSBC logo

Sunway Property goes paperless with e-housing development account, promoting sustainability in Malaysia’s real estate sector

The challenge

As a master developer of community spaces, prioritising the community first is an integral part of Sunway’s corporate mission. As such, environmental and social consciousness forms a central tenet of the company’s philosophy, which it aims to incorporate into every aspect of its operations.

The same commitment extends to the treasury, where the team continuously seeks ways to contribute to the organisation’s mission. They have identified the reduction of paper-intensive processes as a key means of furthering this mission. As a result, the company consistently explores innovative digital solutions in collaboration with its banking partners to achieve this goal.

The solution

Sunway made the decision to incorporate HSBC’s e-Housing Development Account (e-HDA) offering to reduce paper use in day-to-day payment processes.

Traditionally, in Malaysia, real estate developers like Sunway are required to maintain a Housing Development Account (HDA), into which they channel payments received from buyers. The HDA is a regulated bank account under the governance of the Ministry of Housing. As a result, funds in an HDA account are not commingled with other funds involved in the development project; they are reserved for expenses such as taxes, assessment rates, levy charges, stamp duty, insurance premiums, consultant fees and construction costs.

To withdraw funds from an HDA account, a licensed housing developer must provide sufficient documentation to the requesting parties, outlining the purpose of the payment.

Under the standard HDA withdrawal procedure, developers would be required to submit these supporting documents physically to their financial controller (eg the bank). Authorised signatories then had to physically sign the documents to authorise the HDA withdrawal processes. This process was highly manual, time-consuming and inconvenient particularly when signatories were not physically present. Additionally, to certain extend it carried risks associated with the loss of documents during transit. The manual process also hindered manual tracking progress, which it is not efficient and effective.

The e-HDA proposition, therefore, addresses these issues by fully digitising the process. Sunway now submits withdrawal requests via file uploads to HSBCnet and provides all supporting documentation digitally through secure channels. All documents can be centrally accessed and viewed on HSBCnet, ensuring full visibility for auditing purposes. This transformation has enabled Sunway to eliminate paper usage in the HDA withdrawal process, providing the company with a vital opportunity to meet its sustainability goals while enhancing operational efficiency. This marks a significant milestone in promoting sustainability within Malaysia’s real estate sector in line with SDG 12 responsible consumption and production of resources.

We are honoured to receive this prestigious recognition from the Adam Smith Awards Asia. It undoubtedly marks an important and remarkable milestone for Sunway in our journey to pursue operational excellence and promote sustainability goals.

Best practice and innovation

Treasurers can often find themselves uncertain about the immediate actions required to contribute to their organisation’s overall sustainability strategy. As Sunway has demonstrated, however, digitising long-standing paper-intensive processes can be an easily overlooked step that treasurers can take immediately, with the added benefit of mitigating risk and enhancing the overall efficiency of payment processes.

By collaborating with the first bank in Malaysia to offer a complete e-HDA solution, Sunway has successfully achieved complete digitisation of this long-standing paper-intensive process in a relatively short timeframe, all without incurring significant costs for its overall operations. This is a remarkable achievement, especially in the context of the existing resource-intensive and inefficient traditional process. It underscores the benefits listed below, highlighting to industry peers and the broader market that the advantages of adopting sustainable business practices extend well beyond environmental consciousness.

Key benefits

  • Cost savings – US$110,000 annually.

  • Improved process efficiencies.

  • Increased automation.

  • Mitigated risks.

  • Improved visibility.

  • Reduced errors.

  • Reduced manual intervention.

  • Future-proof solution.

  • Environmental consciousness.

Anand Mukati

Country Head, Global Payments Solutions, HSBC Malaysia

The impact that the e-HDA proposition has already had for many of Malaysia’s real estate companies is something that we are very proud of, as it has allowed companies such as Sunway to drive more operational efficiency while intensifying their ESG commitments. We believe that this solution will play a key role in highlighting the numerous benefits that corporates can realise, by adopting more sustainable practices, and will be looking to build on this by continuing to work with our customers and regulators on unlocking more solutions that can facilitate the transition to a more sustainable economy.

in partnership with

HSBC logo

The Adam Smith Awards Asia is the industry benchmark for best practice and innovation in corporate treasury. The 2023 awards attracted 450 nominations. To find out more please visit treasurytoday.com/adam-smith-awards-asia

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