With an almost entirely local staff, Malaysia-based CIMB Bank sees growth as it offers products tailor-made for Cambodians

Cambodian native Bun at a staff seminar. Of 200 staff, all but one is Cambodian
Cambodian native Bun at a staff seminar. Of 200 staff, all but one is Cambodian. Photo Supplied

With an almost entirely local staff, Malaysia-based CIMB Bank sees growth as it offers products tailor-made for Cambodians

In just four years, the overwhelmingly Cambodian staff of the 11 branches of Malaysia-based CIMB Bank in the kingdom have helped propel the bank to the 13th largest in the country by assets, and the employees have no intention stopping there, as they plan to expand the bank’s services.

On top of savings accounts, home loans and other services for customers, CIMB plans to launch online banking in the first or second quarter of 2015, said Bun Yin, CIMB’s executive director designate in Cambodia.

“We are a bit different from other banks in Cambodia,” Yin said at his office near Phnom Penh’s Wat Phnom on Tuesday. “We have more than 200 staff, and we only have one Malaysian.”

A predominately local staff is more aware of Cambodia’s banking market, Yin said, and is obviously more in tune with the culture. The combination allows CIMB to better relate to its customers, and heightens its ability to provide services Cambodians want and need.

When CIMB opened its first branch in Phnom Penh in 2011, it entered the Cambodia market as the 17th largest in Cambodia in terms of assets. Assets now total more than $1.17 billion, nearly $1.1 billion of this from shareholders.

CIMB Bank executive director Bun Yin
CIMB Bank executive director Bun Yin. Photo Supplied

Yin partially attributes CIMB’s ascent in Cambodia to its management style. Rather than a top-down structure, the bank operates with a committee-based model. Several committees come to consensus decisions for different aspects of the business, which gives consideration to a plethora of different opinions on any given matter.

With this platform, CIMB offers its customers competitive currency exchange rates, and the ability to open an account in the foreign currency of their choosing, Yin said. This is in addition to VIP accounts and other competitive services for its customers.

“On our current accounts, we offer interest,” Yin said. “Most banks don’t offer interest for current accounts.

The bank now operates in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, mainland China, Vietnam, US, UK, Brunei, Bahrain, Myanmar, Cambodia, India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Taiwan, Korea and Laos.

CIMB is the fifth-largest bank in ASEAN.
In Cambodia, seven branches operate in Phnom Penh, with one each in Siem Reap, Kampong Cham, Battambang and Preah Sihanouk provinces.

CIMB is working to further grow their market share in the kingdom, as they show a rising presence in loans and deposits, Yin said. They also intend to offer cash management consulting services to advise customers on how to get the most bang out of their buck.

An important part of their growth in Cambodia now and in the future is pandering to the nation’s growing middle class, Yin said.

“This growing of the middle class is very important for the Cambodian economy,” Yin said. “This driving force gives motivation to have a good economy and the need to have support from banks.”

In this way, Yin said, CIMB can assist in Cambodia’s transitioning society and economy. The bank’s contribution to the banking sector here largely focuses on the needs of the people.

“As bankers, we need to look at what opportunities we have ... and how to forge a better society,” Yin said. “We are looking forward to building our corporate platform.”

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