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Interview with Raymond Sia Chief Executive Officer of Canadia Bank

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Raymond Sia, chief executive officer of Canadia Bank. KT/Siv Channa

The Bank was established on 11th November 1991 as “Canadia Gold & Trust Corporation Ltd.” , a joint-venture between Cambodian-Canadians and the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC). Its management consisted of former staffs of the NBC and its Cambodian-Canadian shareholders. On 19th April 1993 the name was changed into Canadia Bank Ltd., licensed as a commercial bank. On 16th December 2003 the name of the bank changed into Canadia Bank Plc.

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Since Privatisation in 2008 the bank has become the largest local bank in Cambodia. With a worldwide network of correspondent banking relationship and a solid base of local and international customers, Canadia Bank Plc. holds commanding market shares in loans as well as deposits. The bank offers a wide range of financial services through its Head Office and its 60 branches in Phnom Penh and major cities throughout the country.

How was the Bank’s performance in 2019 and the outlook for 2020?


Raymond Sia: Canadia Bank had an encouraging year in 2019 with regards to its financial performance.  Based on unaudited figures for the full year ending 2019, Canadia Bank is the largest bank in Cambodia by balance sheet size i.e. total assets, loans and deposits.

During the year, we were heartened and proud to receive two awards from international reputable publications, both of which are testament to the bank’s strong position in the Kingdom and reputation with our customers.

In September 2019, Canadia Bank was recognised by The Asian Banker as Cambodia’s Strongest Bank by Balance Sheet in 2019.  The Bank was also awarded the Best Domestic Bank and Best SME [small and medium enterprise] Bank for 2019 by International Finance Magazine in February 2019.

We are happy with our achievements in 2019 but we are certainly not satisfied and believe we can achieve more in the coming years with the guidance of our Chairman and the board of directors and support from our customers and regulator.

I believe the bank is well placed and positioned to continue to perform well in 2020.  There will obviously be challenges. The year itself has started on a challenging note with effects of the US/China trade war and recent recommended partial withdrawal of the Everything but Arms (EBA) trade deal with the European Union and current global health concerns on Covid-19, but we are confident we have the right team of people and financial strength to overcome these challenges and seize the opportunities in the Cambodian market.

We anticipate more competition in 2020.  We welcome fair competition because this will “push” the financial institutions to further improve their services and offerings, which will benefit customers.  In Canadia Bank, we value our customers and will continue to work towards improving our customer experience, leveraging on both our people and technology.


How about the outlook for the banking industry?


Raymond Sia: With more players in the market, we expect to see competition for both our customers and people.  Overall margins are expected to be compressed further.

Having said that, we are still excited for 2020. There are many opportunities for the banking industry to explore to further improve and strengthen itself. The Associations of Banks of Cambodia plays an important role on this. We have an active Banking Association today and it is important for the financial institutions to continue to work together with a common purpose to strengthen the industry, taking guidance from our regulator, who has been supportive and also looking at other best practices in the region that are applicable and relevant to Cambodia.


Where do you see the growth for Canadia Bank in 2020 ?


Raymond Sia: In Canadia Bank, we have three business segments, i.e. corporate, consumer and SME.  We have seen encouraging growth in all three segments.  The bank also places importance on our deposit/liquidity position.  I have always reminded my colleagues that it is important to always “fund before we lend” i.e. we need to ensure our deposit position is strong before we lend to our customers. Our private banking and branch network plays an important role in our deposit strategy and initiatives.  The bank has an internal threshold for our liquidity position and, despite us setting a strong liquidity buffer, we have been able to deliver encouraging results.  We have a Treasury Department that monitors our liquidity position and is always on the look-out to optimise our balance sheet returns.

In the past two years, we have seen commendable growth in the SME and consumer segment.  Consciously, the bank decided to increase our lending to the SME sector two years ago with our launch of our $150 million SME Financing Package in August 2018.  Canadia Bank was one of the first few banks in the Kingdom that initiated such a financing package because we believe strongly in the importance of SME business in an emerging and growing market such as Cambodia and ensuring these businesses have adequate financing support and access. Because of strong market response, we had up-sized this package a number of times over the past two years and it is now at $400 million.   We had in July 2019 allocated $20 million of this package specifically to support women business owners and launched our SME Smart Lady Financing Package.  We continue to innovate and improve our product and financing offerings and we will be launching our revised SME Financing Package and SME Smart Lady Financing Package in the coming weeks.

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