AN EXCEPTIONALLY successful business year lies behind RHB Cambodia, and the bank has even higher hopes for the future. The Post’s Moeun Nhean took the opportunity to speak with Lim Loong Seng, managing director and country head of RHB Cambodia, and reflect on their growth and talk about the merger with CIMB Bank in 2015.
Throughout the past six years, RHB Indochina Bank has been competing against many local and foreign banks in Cambodia and has emerged as one of the top banks. Can you share with us the highlights of RHB Indochina Bank’s achievements for the first nine months of 2014?
Lim: RHB Indochina Bank Limited (RHBIBL) has made huge progress in the past nine months in terms of asset growth, loan growth, deposit growth and profitability. The bank’s loan and asset growth has been consistently above 50 per cent over the past five years and we intend to achieve the same by the end of year 2014. Our customer deposits have grown by more than 70 per cent this year. In fact, we are expecting more than 500 per cent growth in terms of profits by the end of the year. We are currently just outside the top 10 in the industry and are expected to be ranked among the top 10 by next year. Our branch network spans 10 centres with the most recent branch opening in Toul Kork on the 21st of November 2014.
Cambodia has experienced yearly credit growth of about 20 per cent since the global financial crises hit Cambodia in 2009. Do you think this will pose a significant risk to the banking industry and do you believe the National Bank should increase the capital reserve requirement to strengthen stability?
Lim: The Cambodian economy has been growing at more than 7 per cent for the last two years and is projected to continue this strong growth for this year and the next. The banks have played a pivotal role to stimulate and support economic growth. As long as the economy grows at a steady and healthy rate, the credit growth will not pose too much risk to the banking industry. Moreover, banking assets are only 95 per cent of the GDP and loans at 53 per cent of GDP which are considered low by global standard.
We have the utmost confidence in the Cambodian regulators and believe that NBC is monitoring the situation closely and would take the necessary measures to ensure stability for the banking sector and the economy.
What are your competitive edges in the banking industry in Cambodia which is becoming increasingly saturated, with more than 30 local and foreign commercial banks and more new players are expected?
Lim: As a 100 per cent owned subsidiary of RHB Banking Group, which is the fourth largest financial institution in Malaysia and the core value associated with RHB Brand, these will surely give an additional advantage to spearhead the bank’s growth in Cambodia. Apart from that, the confidence and support we have garnered from our customers through constant engagement and appreciation over the past six years, will no doubt give us a competitive edge.
Most importantly, RHB Banking Group is like a financial supermarket that can never run out of products and solutions to meet the customers’ needs, not just locally, but also for their expansion across ASEAN.
To my understanding, RHB Indochina Bank has done a lot in giving back to the community and was recognised and honoured accordingly when it received the prestigious Raja Zarith Sofiah Award for Corporate Social Responsibility in English Language Education. Can you tell us about some of your community projects in Cambodia?
Lim: Yes, RHB Banking Group is a firm believer in corporate social responsibility and has actively engaged in many social community projects in the places it operates.
In Cambodia, we recently organised a football clinic for about 100 underprivileged children jointly with Football Association of Singapore and Cambodia NagaCorp Football Club under the RHB Singapore Cup Tournament project. The project was established 10 years ago and has conducted football clinics for children in Cambodia and Laos. Under this development project, two teams, NagaCorp Football Club and Svay Rieng Football Club, were selected to represent Cambodia in the RHB Singapore Cup. We have also made a cash donation to the Indochina Starfish Foundation, a foundation dedicated to the development of football for the Children in Cambodia. Through this project, RHB Banking Group hopes to see the development of children’s football to the next level in the very near future.
RHB and CIMB Malaysia have announced the intention of merging, how would this benefit the growth and expansion of RHB Indochina Bank in Cambodia?
Lim: The merger talk is still at an early stage. However, there is no doubt that the merger will put both the banks in a better position to take a stronger foothold in Cambodia and to compete against the big players in Cambodia. An enlarged scale and capacity would also enable the banks to upscale our operation and contribute to the economic growth of the country.
What are your prospects for year 2015?
Lim: Year 2015 looks very promising for us, it is our aspiration to maintain our strong growth trajectory, we hope to be ranked among the top 10 banks in Cambodia come 2015, and continue to contribute to the development of the country and the well-being of its people.