The Indochina Head of Malaysia’s largest bank and CEO Lee Tien Poh, covering Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar, has been with Maybank for more than 20 years. Prior to his appointment at the beginning of this year, he served as head of Maybank’s international strategy and operations. Lee agreed to answer a few questions for The Phnom Penh Post.
How big is Maybank compared to other Malaysian banks and how big is the operation in Cambodia?
Maybank is the leading financial services provider in Malaysia and the fourth largest bank in ASEAN with assets totaling over US$158 billion. It is also the largest listed company on the Malaysian bourse with a market capitalisation of US$23 billion.
Among Malaysian banks, Maybank has the largest international network with over 2,200 offices in 19 countries. We employ over 46,000 Maybankers and serve over 22 million customers.
Maybank has been operating in the Kingdom of Cambodia since 1993 and over the years, has expanded its network from a single branch to 11 branches today.
Will the Cambodian Riel ever replace the US dollar? Why or why not? Does Maybank offer higher interest rates from Riel savings accounts or fixed term deposits than in dollars? Why is that?
The role of Cambodian Riel in replacing the US dollar for everyday use in Cambodia is one of the Key Priorities of the Financial Sector Development Strategy (2001-2010) (Updated 2006-2015). I believe that with active promotion of its usage, the long term objective of the government on de-dollarisation will encourage more Cambodians to use the riel. Maybank is also taking cognizance of the government’s aspiration in promoting the Cambodian Riel, and we are hoping to roll-out Khmer Riel based deposit accounts sometime in the next financial year.
What are some of the most exciting sectors of the Cambodian economy from your perspective?
We see good opportunities in the agriculture sector especially in the development of supply chains – food processing, storage and distribution, construction of physical infrastructure and also in the consumer banking segment where an emerging middle class augurs well for the housing and consumer expendables sector.
Do you predict more foreign direct investment coming to Cambodia? Why?
Cambodia is increasingly being seen as ripe for more foreign direct investments. As the Indochina region, which Cambodia is part of, continues to open up its interior there will be a need for greater investments especially in the infrastructure sector. In addition, the proximity between Cambodia and the more mature consumer markets of Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and China, we expect more foreign direct investments which can take advantage of this proximity as well as its relatively lower labour costs, especially in the garment and agriculture sectors. The investor-friendly policy of the government is also another attractive factor that can attract investment funds into Cambodia.
What segment of the marketplace is Maybank most interested in?
We continue to focus on supporting the local SME & commercial segments apart from the corporate sector. We are also building on our consumer banking portfolio starting with housing loans, while at the same time exploring shophouse loans, auto loans, and personal loans.
How do you differentiate Maybank from other banks in this market?
In Maybank, our differentiation is reflected through our mission to humanise financial services across Asia. Fundamental to this is our commitment to provide convenient access to financial services to people at fair terms and pricing, advising customers based on their needs and always being at the heart of the community. We believe in helping people buy new homes, expand their businesses, get a better education, save, invest and make plans for the future. This mission guides us in every decision we take as our business continues to grow across the region. And key to this is also the fact that Maybank is committed to stay, and here to grow with Cambodia.