Exclusive interview with Canadia Bank CEO Raymond Sia in conjunction with Canadia Bank’s 30th anniversary.
How was the journey as Canadia Bank celebrates its 30th anniversary?
It is with a lot of pride when we reflect on the history of Canadia Bank – from our humble inception in 1991, we have come a long way.
I joined Canadia Bank in March, 2018, and it has been an encouraging journey thus far for me to be able to work alongside my 3,300 colleagues from head office and our 63 branches nationwide.
Over recent years we are heartened and honoured to have been recognised by regional and global banking platforms with accolades that recognise the good work done by my colleagues – such as The Asian Banker’s recognition of Canadia Bank as the “Strongest Bank in Cambodia by Balance Sheet” for three consecutive years, 2019-2021, and the “Best Retail Bank in Cambodia” for two consecutive years, 2020-2021.
We are grateful to our key stakeholders and our customers – for their trust in our bank – and for the continued support of my fellow colleagues and their commitment and dedication in delivering the best banking services to our customers and communities.
We are also thankful to our chairman Neak Oknha Dr Pung Kheav Se and our board of directors for their wisdom and guidance.
How successful has the bank been in promoting financial inclusion in the Kingdom?
Financial inclusion is an important agenda for Canadia Bank as we want to ensure equal financial access to all Cambodians.
As the banking sector is one of the key drivers of the economy, it is imperative that financial access reaches the domestic economy, and consumers and business people who require financing.
One important business segment is small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs). In an emerging market like Cambodia, SMEs play an important role in the growth of the country.
Canadia Bank consciously decided to increase our lending to the SME sector with the launch of the $150 million SME Financing Package in August 2018.
Canadia Bank was one of the first banks in the Kingdom to initiate such a financing package.
Due to a strong market response, we up-sized this package several times in the past two years, and now it stands at $400 million.
In July 2019 we allocated a portion of this package specifically to support women business owners and launched our SME Smart Lady Financing Package.
As well as our internal campaigns, Canadia Bank also supports government-led financing initiatives to help SMEs such as being the largest lender to-date in the Credit Guarantee Corporation of Cambodia’s Business Recovery Guarantee Scheme.
We are also an active lender to the co-financing scheme initiated by the SME Bank of Cambodia, and in the first phase of the scheme, Canadia Bank was the largest lender by loan size.
As well as financial inclusion, it is equally important to ensure that proper financial education for financial literacy is provided to our customers.
We believe in responsible banking, ensuring we provide the appropriate banking solutions to our customers based on their financial needs.
It is not “one-size-fits-all” – every customer is different and important, and with our available product suite, which we continue to innovate, we believe we are a “financial super market” to customers and all Cambodians.
What would be your primary lending strategy – growing the corporate or retail portfolio?
At Canadia Bank, we have three key business segments – consumer, corporate and SME.
All three segments are important growth areas for the bank and each customer segment has different needs.
We want to stay relevant to our customers in all the three different segments and devote our time to innovate our products and services to cater to their needs.
What are your expectations for 2022 with Covid-19 risks still remaining?
We are cautiously optimistic for 2022. We believe the “worst is over” despite Covid-19 still lingering.
In Cambodia, we consider ourselves blessed as with the foresight and direction of the Royal Government of Cambodia – the inoculation exercise was started way ahead of other countries, and early vaccination has helped better manage the pandemic.
The pragmatic approach taken by the National Bank of Cambodia in early 2020 allowing banks to provide financial repayment holidays for customers affected by Covid-19 provided relief to impacted customers.
What is likely to drive your bank’s growth next year?
Our growth and success will be predicated by a number of key factors and enablers that include:
• People – the development and training of our employees – which includes re-training and exposing them to new technologies, and equipping them with new skills – alongside the hiring of top external talent further complements and strengthens our
current team’s strength.
At Canadia Bank, we are proud to have 3,300 dedicated and committed employees that have contributed to our success.
• With the digital simplification process, we will continue to invest in relevant and appropriate technologies to enable the bank to automate and digitise its processes and also to improve on our customer experience and services.
• Our commitment to product innovation results in the development of new products and services relevant to customer’s needs and will be another important driver of growth in 2022.
In what direction do you see the domestic financial sector moving next year?
We expect competition to increase. We also foresee more investment into technology and digital initiatives by banks to improve their efficiency and reach to their customers.
Banks will be more watchful on their cost structure as margins are expected to compress further.
Despite increased competition, we see opportunities for potential mergers and acquisitions as the Cambodian banking sector remains attractive, backed by pragmatic regulators.
Do you have a message for Canadia Bank’s customers and the wider Cambodian banking community?
I want to thank all our customers for their trust and continued patronage of Canadia Bank.
I am confident Canadia Bank will continue to grow from strength to strength for many years to come.
As one of the oldest and largest local bank, we are very much here to stay in Cambodia and I believe the best of Canadia Bank is yet to come.