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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Maybank rated13th strongest bank in the world by Bloomberg

Maybank rated13th strongest bank in the world by Bloomberg

16 Lee Tien Poh
Maybank’s CEO Lee Tien Poh.

Maybank was ranked number 13 in Bloomberg Markets Magazine’s third annual ranking of “The World’s Strongest Banks” in the June, 2013, issue.

The banks were ranked based on several ratios including capital to risk-weighted assets, non-performing assets to total assets, loan-loss reserves to non-performing assets and costs to revenue.

Here in Cambodia, Maybank’s CEO Lee Tien Poh was pleased to hear the news. In Cambodia for over a year now, Lee previously held various portfolios at Maybank’s International Division and has been the Head of Overseas Operations, Head of Strategy & Business Development and Head of International Strategy & Operations, with Cambodia as one of his oversight responsibilities even before he was appointed as CEO just over a year ago.

Maybank Group, which employs 47,000 people, is Malaysia’s largest in terms of total assets with more than $162 billion and $25 billion in market capitalisation. A public listed company, it is also the largest company in Malaysia and the major shareholder is Permodalan Nasional Berhad, the investment arm of the Malaysian government.

Maybank has been operating in Cambodia for two decades now, and will be celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

“It all started in 1993 with only one branch in Phnom Penh,” Lee said.

“Back then, our business model was to support Singapore and Malaysia businessmen. In 2007, we changed our business model as we decided to adopt a long haul strategy to also serve the local community and started to expand our network.”

From 2008 to 2011, Maybank added 10 more branches and by 2012, had a total of 12 branches.

“By the end of 2015, we are projecting to operate more than 20 branches, with 80 per cent of them in Phnom Penh and 20 per cent throughout Cambodia,”

At the moment, the eight branches in Phnom Penh are complemented by four outside, with one each in Siem Reap, Battambang, Kampong Cham and Sihanoukville.

Maybank has also expanded its ATM network with three offsite ATMs, one at the Bayon Supermarket, one at the Phnom Penh International Airport and one at the Siem Reap International Airport.

Lee says Maybank intends to have a total of 40 ATMs in Cambodia, onsite and stand alone by 2015.

“These are regionally linked ATMs which means our customers can transact at Maybank ATMs in various regional locations including Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam as well as Papua New Guinea at no extra cost.

The bank is set to further entrench its presence in Cambodia, expanding its reach to serve its customers nationwide over the next few years. Following local incorporation of its operations in Cambodia last year, it is now in the midst of building its capability and introducing new business channels. Its total staff strength is expected to reach 300 by end of this year. In addition, the bank launched its internet banking portal M2U last December 2012 and has set up various new departments to support its growth for example, a credit and risk management department.

Lee says there are signs in the marketplace that the demand for consumer banking products and services are on the rise because of an emerging middle class segment.

“People now have more disposable income which is in tandem with the country’s strong economic growth. There are a lot of development plans in the pipeline, including shopping malls for the middle income families. For convenience, people from this income group will need credit cards and this is where the usage of credit cards will pick up.”

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Lee says this growing segment of young working adults will need housing loans, transaction banking services, ATMs and children’s accounts.

He also sees growth coming specifically from sectors like agriculture, education and medical services. It is the country’s agenda to see these productive sectors grow especially agriculture where the focus is on the higher value chain.

“Efforts are being directed to manufacture finished food products from the produce of the land, for example noodles and rice crackers from rice. This is to ensure that value is added within the country. The other important growth sector is infrastructure development, the improvement of roads, highways and railway lines. Generally, at Maybank, we support the productive growth sectors of the country,” Lee said.

Maybank now offers consumer and business loans. Lee says that granting trade financing facility to support local businessmen is also among Maybank’s agenda.

As at end December 2012, Maybank Cambodia’s loan portfolio surpassed the US$200 million mark and its growth outpaced that of the banking industry.

“We deal in US dollars at the moment, and we are already having an initiative to offer Khmer Riel accounts,” he said.

Back when he was overseeing the Cambodia operations from Kuala Lumpur in 2008, Lee saw a need for local banking talents to support the expanding growth there.

“I was initially puzzled why we couldn’t attract local talents. The market probably at that time did not know us well and felt we were not expanding our operations aggressively.”

Since then, Lee has headed an effort to hire talented people who have more than five years experience in banking and let the word of mouth spread around that Maybank has changed its business direction and expanding aggressively.

“We hired some key talents and this started to change people’s perception of Maybank. Since then we received overwhelming requests from people wanting to join us. There are many young Cambodians who were educated overseas, and to this group it is not so much about compensation and benefits but our compelling vision and mission and how they can grow with us. They are young and they want to make progress,” he added.

One of the key differentiators for Lee in a market of more than 32 commercial banks is Maybank’s mission of humanising financial services in Cambodia. Humanising would mean providing people with convenient access to financing with fair terms and pricing, advising customers based on their needs and being in the heart of the community they operate.

“In order to illustrate being in the heart of the community, apart from been a socially responsible corporate citizen, when we develop products and services we think of customers needs first and that the products and services will bring value to them. The profit element is the consequence of our effort to serve the community.”

Maybank Cambodia’s vision, according to Lee is to be the first-choice financial services provider in the country.

“First choice would mean whenever an existing and potential customers look for banking products and services, Maybank is a first choice as we walk the talk on our mission. We treasure long term business relationships and promote a win-win situation for us and the customers.

“It is common to hear people say that the customer is number one. We always tell the customer that we need to win together in order to sustain our relationship. When we share this with many of our customers, they firmly acknowledge it and confirm that we are the bank they want to deal with in the long term,” Lee said.



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