Rohit Moudgil of HSBC shares his passion for supporting UK manufacturing, helping businesses grow and gain in resilience

I came to the UK at the age of 17 from India,” begins Rohit Moudgil, Head of Manufacturing & Industrials Sector, HSBC. “While the move was a big change from a cultural perspective, it also made me realize my ability to be agile whilst navigating change and cultural differences. I always wanted to be in a client facing environment as that’s where I felt I would do my best work.

“I have been in the banking industry for 20 years and have predominantly worked with corporate clients with international needs. Working with HSBC has really amplified that global perspective and given me a deep understanding of global trade and supply chain subject matters, which are extremely important for UK manufacturing. I’ve been very fortunate,” he continues, “to have worked with mentors and senior colleagues who’ve encouraged me to take calculated risks along the way. And so, through a combination of careful planning, and good luck, I have been able to choose interesting roles that have challenged me and given me exposure to a variety of industrial sectors, which has served me well in my current role.”

Rohit is responsible for setting the overall sector strategy and works closely with local relationship directors and product teams across HSBC to deliver strategic financing and transaction banking solutions for clients.

Looking more closely at the current climate, Rohit highlights a shift in sector sentiment. “The sector has shown remarkable resilience over the last few years. We’ve certainly seen a pickup in positivity from our clients, and the desire to invest is probably the one thing that has stood out so far this year. If you think about some of the policies that were announced during the autumn statement, for example, permanent full expensing, these have given businesses increased confidence to take long-term decisions. Inflationary pressures have abated somewhat, Red Sea disruptions notwithstanding. Supply chain pressures have also eased, which is enabling businesses to reduce levels of safety stocks built up over the last two-to-three years, freeing up cash for investment. Looking at the results from industry surveys, we’re also seeing business confidence beginning to recover.

“That confidence is key in business and very important in the manufacturing sector because those investment decisions are long-term, typically five-to-seven-year investment cycles, and businesses hold back when they don’t feel confident. The fact that this is starting to change is really encouraging, not least because the sector is a significant contributor to GDP but is also crucial when it comes to a country’s trade balance. HSBC is a global trade finance house. A thriving manufacturing sector plays to our strengths and so we’re encouraged to see some of those green shoots emerging. Whilst there are still challenges out there, especially in terms of ongoing skills shortages, companies are starting to find creative ways to address these.

“Providing access to finance is clearly the one obvious way that HSBC UK supports its clients. Alongside this, we offer advice and thought leadership to our clients about trends across different sub-sectors, discussing ideas, such as the ways in which scalable Industry 4.0 technology solutions can be deployed right through their entire operations and value chain to increase productivity, cost efficiency and ease pressure points. We focus on understanding barriers to investment and technology adoption for each business and exploring how we may be able to help clients overcome some of those barriers, whether ourselves, or in partnerships with third parties.

“A big part of our job is thinking ahead about ways in which events and emerging trends may impact our clients and how we adapt our support for them to keep commerce flowing. For example, leveraging our global trade expertise to supporting clients during the post pandemic supply chain disruption. We proactively reached out to clients to tailor our facilities to help them manage the impact of elongated working capital cycles because of longer lead times and late payments,” he explains.

Rohit goes on to share insights into the transformation of the global supply chains that is underway. “We have seen that businesses are much more focused on getting a balance between cost efficiency and increased resilience in their supply chains,” he elaborates. “Clients are looking at ways in which they can de-risk, diversify and shorten their supply chains through efforts such as near-shoring or bringing back activities in-house where it makes sense. Regardless of how these supply chain trends shift, as a bank that covers c.90 percent of the global trade and capital flows, we’re well positioned to support our clients in achieving their objectives.

“Alongside supply chain transformation, sustainability is, of course, a big subject. The sector is playing a little bit of catch up in that area but considering broader events impacting the industry over the last few years, it’s not surprising that progress needs to be made. We commissioned a global industrial transition pathways survey with Kantar late last year. This blind survey of some 375 global companies showed that Net Zero is commercially important to 98 percent of businesses in the industrials and chemicals sectors. This is consistent with our dialogue with UK corporate clients in the sector. As businesses benefit from reduced working capital requirements due to normalization of supply chains, they’re able to start addressing longer term sustainability challenges and investment needs. We are already seeing a lot of innovation in the manufacturing sector, with circular economy practices driving progress. As one of the world’s largest banks, we have an important role to play in facilitating this transition and have committed to providing between 750 billion and one trillion dollars of sustainable finance and investment globally up to 2030 to support our clients.

“Closer to home,” he continues, “there are incentives like our Green SME Fund. This is available to UK SMEs with up to a 25-million-pound group annual turnover and helps them to invest in green projects to progress sustainability strategies. The needs of corporate clients are varied and we’re working to identify any gaps in our propositions to drive improvement in sustainability. Manufacturing is a broad sector, with numerous sub-sectors therein. A big part of my job is to ensure our frontline bankers are up to speed with the latest thematic issues within those sub-sectors, so they can have knowledgeable conversations with clients about both risks and opportunities from a transition and sustainability perspective.

“A real privilege of my role is that I get to work with businesses of different types and sizes. Knowing that I have a responsibility and an important role to play in our clients achieving their objectives is uplifting, be that helping start-ups, supporting growth of established businesses, or facilitating connections to other specialist colleagues in the bank for strategic M&A advice at the appropriate time for example,” Rohit enthuses. “Equally, coaching and mentoring less experienced colleagues, shaping the delivery of some of our people development programs, and fostering an ideas-led innovative culture are aspects of the role I find incredibly rewarding.

“Consistency is key for me in any relationship dialogue and building trust is fundamental. I interact with multiple business leaders throughout the year, and it all boils down to understanding the human element. It’s fascinating to see the different management styles in action and how they respond to similar challenges.”

As global supply chain transformation unfolds, the opportunity is ripe for UK manufacturing to play to its strengths. “The UK is the eighth largest manufacturer in the world,” he continues. “Many of our clients operate globally, so we need to help them leverage their edge, which will be key going forward. We remain committed to supporting ambitious businesses that are looking to capture opportunities. Our experience shows that clients who operate globally are more resilient,” he concludes. “We must not underestimate the importance of continuing to look at new revenue streams and markets. Talking to our clients about new opportunities is core to what we do and helping them navigate change is an exciting part of our role. I believe we are in a very privileged position to be able to do that.”