Southeast Asia, with a high percentage of its population still underbanked but with growing economies and widespread smartphone adoption, is prime territory for fintech upstarts as well as pioneering incumbent banks. The race is on, and many players have jumped in, with ASEAN governments promoting the contest, which is pushing the limits of financial services to new boundaries. The ultimate winners, of course, will be the commercial and retail customers.
Interview with Mr. Domenic Fuda, Group Managing Director & CEO and Mr. Charles Sik, Managing Director, Personal Financial Services, Hong Leong Bank
Malaysia is amongst Southeast Asia’s most prosperous nations, with consistently high economic growth. It is also amongst the region’s most progressive; one of its top five banks, Hong Leong Bank, is leading the widespread adoption of digital solutions in finance. We were pleased to be joined by two of HLB’s senior executives, Domenic Fuda and Charles Sik, to discuss HLB’s newest strategies toward being “digital at the core”.
Malaysia’s Hong Leong Bank is setting an example for how digital technology can transform a bank into a customer-service dynamo—not only in its home country of Malaysia but throughout Southeast Asia. From m-servicing to AI, HLB is unleashing digital innovation along with that all-important human touch better than just about anyone else, meeting its customers’ needs and wants at every point of contact.
Bank Islam in Malaysia embodies a financial institution that is influenced by much more than the goal of maximizing dollars and cents. New CEO Khairul Kamarudin outlines the many other considerations that go into the bank’s decision-making in its drive to be an ethical value-based intermediary guided by Shariah principles, committed to generating positive results for its community, economy and environment.
Malaysia—beset by scandal, political turmoil, dropping oil prices and falling currency—hasn’t appeared to be the land of opportunity to investors in recent years. But 2017 has brought hope of a turnaround to this Southeast Asian emerging-market economy, with factors such as improved trade performance, infrastructure development and a stabilizing currency resulting in renewed investor confidence on the nation’s markets.
The familiar adage We learn best from our own mistakes is particularly apt for Bank Islam, which in the past 10 years has completed a turnaround that saw it recover from a state of crisis to gain its current status as Malaysia’s Islamic-banking leader. Its transition from multiple mainly credit-related failures to overwhelming successes is an inspiration for struggling banks the world over.
“The Malaysian people were defrauded on an enormous scale”, was the recent assertion by Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe in reference to an international banking scandal that has now rumbled on for over two years, and looks set to continue for some time.
Bank Islam has made a remarkable comeback in the past 10 years, recovering from years of heavy losses to become one of the region’s financial powerhouses. In our interview with the bank’s Deputy CEO Khairul Kamarudin, we discover some of the bank’s avenues to success.
In August, the Malaysian ringgit dropped to an all-time low against the dollar of neighbouring Singapore, while a further slide in subsequent weeks led to the currency in late September hitting an 18-year low against the US dollar.
Dato’ Sri Zukri Samat, CEO of Bank Islam Malaysia Berhad, discusses Sharia-compliant finance, retail banking, wealth management, the current state of the Malaysian banking market and his career in banking with International Banker.