‘We get to know each customer’s business and invest the time to truly understand their needs’

Gabriel Hamani, manager of Bank Hapoalim branches in the US, explains what his bank brings to America.

Interview with Gabriel Hamani of Bank Hapoalim
The ties between the US and Israel are very close in matters of security and diplomacy. Are they also very close in finance and business?
Absolutely, there are many similarities and points of contact between business and finance in Israel and the US. American investors clearly see Israel as a powerhouse of innovation, with significant investments in hi-tech and other sectors. Israeli companies have a real appreciation of the US as the largest consumer and finance market in the world, and many Israeli companies sell products or have investors in the US. Bank Hapoalim plays a key role in making these business and investment ties a reality.
What does Bank Hapoalim contribute to the large American banking system?
The US banking system is quite fragmented, with more than 6,000 banks, the majority of them small community banks. As part of Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s largest bank, our US operations, BHI USA, are backed by a balance sheet of $100 billion.
We offer our customers, both US and Israeli companies, full commercial and corporate banking services, with the same variety and quality of services and products that they would find at any top US bank.
Our real added value, however, is in our singular focus on customer relationships. Many banks talk about relationship banking, but at Hapoalim it is a core part of how we do business and how we differentiate ourselves in a crowded marketplace; we get to know each customer’s business and invest the time to truly understand their needs and what will make them successful.
Relationship banking is ingrained in the culture of the bank and is a focus across the board, from entry-level employees to the bank’s chairman. It is key to what we do and, I think, the reason that we’re Israel’s largest bank and have a growing presence internationally.
What special services do you offer your customers?
We offer customers full commercial and corporate banking services, including financing services, investment services and advanced cash management services. What’s different about our approach is that we tailor these services to each company’s stage of development and unique circumstances, rather than taking the cookie-cutter approach that is prevalent in the banking sector. In banking, like anywhere, one size does not fit all.
Israel is regarded as a “Start-Up Nation.” Does Bank Hapoalim gear itself toward the Israeli hitech industry?
As the largest bank in the “Start- Up Nation,” we are a key part of Israel’s innovation ecosystem. We have a division within the bank, “Poalim Hi Tech,” where specialized bankers provide financial solutions tailored for this fast-growing segment. Our US operations offer a natural extension of this work, bringing deep expertise in banking for the hi-tech sector to the US and helping Israeli hi-tech companies working in the US.