Leaders to prioritise sustainable finance and responsible profits

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Chief executives of leading Asian banks discussed how they navigated their institutions through the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain disruptions, geopolitical conflicts, rising inflation and economic slowdown, towards recovery in their respective markets.

Banks invest and leverage on digital innovation to sharpen customer focus, operational resilience and future-proof their businesses.  They have to also respond to evolving leadership challenges and priorities as society expects financial institutions to play bigger roles to make finance more sustainable and “human”.

Chief executives of leading Asian banks discussed how they navigated their institutions through the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain disruptions, geopolitical conflicts, rising inflation and economic slowdown, towards recovery in their respective markets. Banks invest and leverage on digital innovation to sharpen customer focus, operational resilience and future-proof their businesses.  They have to also respond to evolving leadership challenges and priorities as society expects financial institutions to play bigger roles to make finance more sustainable and “human”.

Abdul Farid Alias, former CEO of Maybank, Chartsiri Sophonpanich (Khun Tony), president of Bangkok Bank, and Raymond Sia, CEO of Canadia Bank, shared their perspectives on the challenges and lessons they have learned in the past three years as they transform organisational culture, processes and operating models to compete and collaborate with emerging digital-native institutions, as well as develop human capital for a more sustainable future.

They also discussed how leaders have to ensure institutions act responsibly and be accountable to all stakeholders, including the community and society at large, and work towards sustainable finance and responsible profits.

Farid Alias shared that the challenge to leverage digital transformation before the outbreak of COVID-19 has helped to bolster organisational resilience and maintain balance sheet performance and strength. He also talked about the increasing challenges that new and future leaders have to face to balance rising environmental, societal and governance concerns with the constant pressure of meeting financial goals, to achieve more responsible profits.

Khun Tony shared that the COVID-19 outbreak accelerated the adoption of online platforms, logistic, and delivery systems. In Southeast Asia, people have seen digital transformation that would have normally taken years, has happened within a matter of months. He also pointed out that players must look beyond banking and embed themselves into digital ecosystems.

Sia remarked that new business models revolve around relevance to customers – external and internal. It is very important to have employees engaged and motivated to enable banks to be competitive in a very crowded banking landscape.

The following key points were discussed:

  • Making financial services more humane
  • Being relevant to customers as the main objective
  • Risk diversification
  • Recent disruptions and global conflicts will accelerate the trend of regionalisation
  • Relearning and unlearning the old skills to be agile and bring seamless customer experience
  • Financial institutions should collectively move towards responsible profits

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