What was your journey like for CIMB to get where you are and what promoted CIMB to enter the Cambodian Market?
Among the leading commercial banks, CIMB was actually one of the late entrants into the Cambodian market. Undoubtedly, CIMB Group saw the tremendous potential here and subsequently decided to establish CIMB Cambodia as its first-ever organically grown bank in the region. We opened our first branch in November 2010, five years after ANZ Royal opened its first branch.
In just 9 years, we have grown exponentially to become a Top 10 bank in the nation, amongst 42 licensed banks. This achievement was made possible through a combination of establishing a strong local management team, and leveraging CIMB Group’s resources in terms of banking infrastructure and knowledge transfer especially in our early years.
Cambodia is an attractive inves-tment destination with consistently high GDP growth, openness to foreign investment and progressive regulations. Although we fully support the National Bank in promoting the Khmer Riel, we also view that the widespread use of US dollars is an advantage for foreign direct investment. Cambodia is also uniquely positioned within continental ASEAN, with supply chains linking Vietnam and Thailand. Having a strong foothold in Cambodia allows us to take advantage of these opportunities.
Does your bank have a story to tell? Enlighten us about your Business Stratagem, considering the fact that the banking industry here is still some-what in a nascent stage?
Our growth strategy over the past 9 years has been to expand within our means. We are now a Top 10 bank in Cambodia, both in terms of loans and deposits. However, in terms of profitability, we are already in the Top 5. This is largely due to our minimal credit losses – there is no point growing quickly if we end up with a lot of non-performing loans. We have been very adamant about instilling a strong bank-wide risk culture and thorough know-your-customer fundamentals. Because we have set the right foundations from the start, CIMB Cambodia has been able to simultaneously achieve one of the highest year-on-year growth rates, and also one of the industry’s lowest NPL ratios.
We also put in a lot of effort to develop our people who are the Bank’s most important assets. Aside from inculcating the right culture and mindset, CIMB also invests in training programmes to upskill our staff. We also regularly send our mid to senior level staff to Malaysia and other regional centres of excellence to increase their exposure to best practices and innovations happening in other countries around us.
How extensive is CIMB’s operations in Cambodia and where do you see the bank in the next five years, in terms of clientele growth, number of branches and in terms of value added financial services in the next five years?
CIMB Cambodia has 13 branches, plus a new mini branch on the ground floor of Exchange Square Mall to be inaugurated in August 2019. In addition to Phnom Penh, we have a presence in 4 major provinces. We recognize that Cambodia is “digitalizing” very quickly, and even leap-frogging some of our neighbours in terms of our adoption of digital financial services. In line with this, CIMB Cambodia will invest in various digital solutions and explore meaningful partnerships with technology providers. We will also invest in educating our customer base, especially conventional businesses and their stakeholders, on the conveniences and security of digital banking. We will add new branches as-and-when the need arises, but we are quite satisfied with our physical footprint for the time being.
Kindly elaborate on CIMB’S range of financial services already available in the Cambodian market and what are the steps the bank has taken to enhance financial literacy in the country?
Our products and services are as follows:
CIMB Bank is a people-driven business. Since the early days, customers have been core to everything we do. We empower our relationship managers with the required skill sets and professionalism in pursuit of customer excellence. They recommend products and services that the customers understand and value. Adequate care is taken in the onboarding process to ensure that customers understand their rights and obligations with respect to CIMB products and services. Information that is shared with customers is fair and transparent.
Should there be any complaint, clients are advised of an appropriate channel and are made aware of our committed turnaround time for a resolution. In so doing, the Bank has played its part to enhance the financial literacy in the country. We witness that customers nowadays are a lot more knowledgeable about financial products. They demand to know and understand the terms of service and shop around for the most competitive offering. The most important thing is information sharing, because when armed with the knowledge, customers make better informed and effective financial decision.
Kindly provide insights into your profits and business growth and how does it rank in Cambodia?
2018 was a very rewarding year for CIMB Cambodia. The bank was awarded as “Cambodia’s Best International Bank” by Asiamoney and produced excellent financial results. As of end-2018, profit before tax grew 39.5% year-on-year, due to improved gross loan balances (+36.7% year-on-year) and customer deposits (+28.0% year-on-year). Our profit-before-tax and assets have increased to $14.21 million and $865 million respectively. Our 1H2019 results also give us optimism that we will sustain the strong positive momentum we have seen in previous years.
How would differentiate CIMB from other banks in Cambodia? What sets it apart?
We are one of the few leading commercial banks in Cambodia that serve all three major market segments: retail, commercial, and corporate banking. In addition, we recently established a new unit, namely Financial Institution Group or FIG, to serve Cambodian financial institutions. From unsecured personal loan to supply chain finance, the Bank has a complete suite of products and services that serve the unique needs of clients in each segment.
The Bank is also well-connected with networks in ASEAN and beyond. Local proprietors, traders and international corporations alike leverage our connectivity in the region, and international standing as part of CIMB Group, to conduct cross-border business and trade.
Meeting our clients’ expectations requires effort and commitment. We pride ourselves on being 100% staffed by Cambodian nationals, from junior to chief executive levels, who are all contributing to the continued growth of the Bank. Our standing in the market today is a testament to the growing maturity and capabilities of our Cambodian employees.
How does CIMB retain its talent pool and develop Cambodian human resources?
We have worked tirelessly to ensure that our employees find CIMB Cambodia as their second home: a home full of cooperation; learning and development. In 2018 alone, we conducted about 10,000 training hours for our staff. The training covered both soft and hard skills. In addition to the training, we organized many activities, including Tuesday Chat, CEO Greeting, CEO Futsal Cup, Team Building, Manager of the Year, Employee of The Quarter and the Staff Gala Dinner. The Customer Experience (CX) Star Award Programme was also introduced to employees to showcase their excellence in customer-centric behaviour and to recognize their outstanding contributions to the Bank.
As a large Malaysian Bank, what percentage of its business is catering to homes based corporates or entities operating in Cambodia?
95% of our clients are local residents or corporates. The latter includes local subsidiaries of foreign firms.
What is your perspective for Malaysia – Cambodia business relations and its potentials?
Malaysian businesses are one of the largest (and earliest) investors in Cambodia. Trade between the two countries continues to grow year after year, driven by strong bilateral connections built over many years. We are optimistic that this long-standing relationship will continue to expand and prosper, especially in the areas of investments, trade, services and regional supply chain sourcing. As one of the few banks in Cambodia with deep local knowledge in both countries, CIMB Cambodia is well-positioned to facilitate both inward investments into Cambodia and cross-border opportunities for Cambodian businesses.
As a Cambodian CEO in a Malaysian Bank, how has this helped developing CIMB’s bank growth and relations with customers and authorities?
A Cambodian CEO in a bank would have a natural advantage in terms of local knowledge and network. This can certainly help with customer acquisition and relationship-building. Beyond that, a local CEO’s experience across many economic cycles in Cambodia is also beneficial for the Bank in terms of anticipating and managing the various risks involved in providing financial services.