One of the reasons Cambodian Public Bank has been successful is the strong corporate governance and policies advocated by Public Bank Group chairman, Tan Sri Dato Sri Dr Teh Hong Piow, who just celebrated his 83rd birthday on March 8 in Kuala Lumpur.
Campu Bank Country Head Phan Ying Tong says the chairman is beloved by both employees and the public, a sentiment he says has enabled the bank to grow over the years.
“We love a boss like him: generous and always rewarding.”
Another of the chairman’s contributions is a culture of rewarding people who turn in good performance, according to Phan.
“One very important quality of Tan Sri’s leadership is he rewards people who can perform; who achieve results. So that shapes the culture of the bank.”
Phan says that the culture goes right through Public Bank and its Cambodian subsidiary, Cambodian Public Bank, also known as Campu Bank.
Phan says a good culture will ensure that any organisation will go in the right direction and consistently perform.
“We are talking about our responsibility. This is a culture that has been inculcated into the staff. Everyone takes up their own responsibility and is happy doing their job responsibly. Everyone has a goal to be efficient and achieve the goals set by the chairman, and at the end of the day, they are handsomely rewarded,” Phan said.
“We inculcate a performance-based culture where rewards are correlated to the delivery of superior performance and we pay good bonuses, grant overseas trips for all levels of staff and we offer career paths and advancement.”
Phan said the meritocracy-driven career progression coupled with priority accorded to internal filling of vacancies by existing well-trained, qualified and experienced staff have created a workforce that is passionately performance driven.
“Our people are seeking career paths and advancement within the bank. This is evident from the low staff attrition rate of 7 per cent in 2012 and 100 per cent of our managerial appointments were promoted from within Campu Bank.”
In 2012, Campu Bank earned $35 million in before-tax profit, up more than $5 million from 2011.
Phan thinks that the trend will continue because of the good fundamentals of the Cambodian economy.
“I think Cambodia’s economy will continue to do well with GDP growth of not less than 6.5 per cent in 2013. A lot of foreign investors continue to come in possibly because doing business elsewhere is getting more costly like in China and also due to the favourable conditions and incentives offered by the Government” Phan said.
“We also see in Cambodia more Japanese-owned manufacturing companies coming in a big way. May be Cambodia is beginning to see a change from the traditional garment and textile based economy to a more technology based economy.”
He gave the example of the Japanese-owned Minebea Company which manufactures small motors at the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone.
“I think Cambodia is starting to move into a more technology-based direction and not so much a labour-intensive base economy in the long term.”
Phan said the development of a technology-driven manufacturing base is complimented by the parallel development in the construction and real estate sectors as well as the agriculture and rice sector.
“The prime minister is now talking about rubber and I think this is a very good choice to promote the economy given the suitable climate of the country. We don’t just rely on just one agriculture product to grow the economy.”
Phan says there is more and more competition in the banking sector which is getting keener than other sectors today.
Phan says bankers need to maintain a high degree of professionalism to ensure that loan borrowers make a more informed decision. For example, borrowers should be advised as to how much they should borrow based on the actual business needs or private investments required and not to over or under lend to the borrowers.
With more competition coming into play through entry of new banks and opening of new branches by existing banks, bankers should not sacrifice asset quality for quantity otherwise they would be saddled with bad asset quality which will translate into bad debts.
Campu Bank has 25 branches throughout Cambodia and Phan says there are plans to open more branches in strategic and viable locations.
“We will continue to expand and of course, we will continue to enhance our human capital which is still a challenge in the industry. When you want to open more branches, you need to have the right managers, skilled and experienced staff especially in credit and marketing and so on.”
Some of the coming plans are introducing children’s savings accounts to inculcate savings habit for parents on behalf of their children and also to launch “Customer Care Campaign” to create greater awareness on the importance of good customer services this year as well as ongoing introduction of more promotions for credit card products from time to time.
“For example, we will continue with our tie-up programs with merchants to offer special discount to our cardholders,” Phan said. “For example, at Almond Hotel you can get 10 per cent discount for food and beverages spent at the restaurant.”
Another of Campu Bank’s plans is to roll out instalment plans for purchase of consumer and household goods including computers and electrical items but card holders only need to pay by instalments with no interest being charged for the instalments.
Campu Bank will announce the “Merchant of the month” on their website to inform customers where they can get more value for their credit or VISA debit cards.
Another deal is with Sime Darby Medical Centre from Malaysia whereby a very special discount on medical fees will be offered to its Platinum card holders.
Campu Bank employs more than 600 people and is among the top three banks in Cambodia in terms of asset size, business and performance, Phan says.
In 2012, Campu Bank was awarded “Domestic Retail Bank of the Year in Cambodia” for its management excellence by Asian Banking & Finance. Also in 2012, Deutsche Bank awarded Campu Bank the “USD Straight-Through-Processing Excellence Award” for exceptional quality in the processing of payment messages.
Phan expresses optimism in Cambodia’s economic growth for the next few years for a number of reasons, including increasing interest shown by Cambodians to own affordable homes.
“We are seeing more developments in the Special Economic Zones especially in Phnom Penh, Preach Sihanouk, Koh Kong and Bavet, infrastructure developments in the construction of hydro-power dams and stations and bridges, reconstruction of railways and rehabilitation of the roads linking the key routes for transport and export of goods.
Phan says he’s optimistic about the health of Campu Bank subsidiaries Campu Lonpac Insurance and Campu Securities which he says will also benefit from the favourable economic conditions and development.
“We see more business activities, more flights coming into the country by new carriers, more tourists, and more investors. We hope that the government will continue to promote its liberal business policies and improve the investment climate to make Cambodia one of the most “business friendly” countries in the region which would enhance employment opportunities and improve human capital in the long term.”
Phan complimented the National Bank of Cambodia for regulating the banks efficiently and also for implementing sound monetary and fiscal policy prudence to promote macroeconomic stability, as well as the CDC.
“We appreciate the Council for the Development of Cambodia for their active role and competence in promoting competitive and attractive tax incentive program to attract new foreign investments into the country,” he said, citing the granting of tax exemptions for three years each time for a total of nine years.
Another factor in the improvement of Cambodia’s financial landscape, Phan says, has been the introduction of the capital market under the supervision of the Securities Exchange Commission of Cambodia in 2011.
“The capital market has provided opportunities for business enterprises to raise capital for their business expansion in Cambodia. Campu Securities is principally involved in securities trading and underwriting,” Phan said.
One of Cambodia’s challenges today, Phan says, is to nurture and strengthen human capital.
“Human resources make a difference in productivity if you have skilled and knowledgeable staff in every sector of the economy. It is a priority for all sectors of the economy to intensify efforts to build up a strong human capital in Cambodia.”
Phan was happy to have recently completed the Masters degree in Banking from the University of London, with the support of his company and his family. He said it was an example of the importance of training for people at all levels.
“Learning is the spring board an employee stays abreast with new skills and knowledge, embrace the inevitability of change as well as sustain its relevance.”