Shinhan Bank ready to shine despite stiff competition

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The bank plans to add three more branches by end of this year.

After fortifying its brand name in the Kingdom for the past 12 years, Shinhan Bank (Cambodia) Plc now prepares the ground for bigger challenge in 2020.

The Cambodian unit, a subsidiary of Shinhan Bank which is the largest in South Korea, celebrated its 12th anniversary this October, is doing all it can to compete in the Kingdom’s tight banking sector – where some 40 commercial banks are currently operating.

The South Korean lender is taking a holistic approach to reach out to its customers to promote its banking services.

It advocates financial literacy to students, will provide capital for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and will even roll out “urgent financing” for its clients such as loans for education, house renovation and medical treatment, and wants faster money transfer done in “real time” – all aimed to make banking more people-friendly.

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Being a people-centric bank is Shinhan’s top priority.

“We want to be a customer-centric and an innovative bank. We plan to add another three branches by year end and step up digitalisation to bring banking services [to all strata of the Cambodian society]. That is the motto of Shinhan Bank.

“Financial literacy is still limited in Cambodia and we provide classes in schools to educate them about banking and finance, as part of our CSR (corporate social responsibility) programme. Shinhan Bank does not only focus on financial sector, but we also promote social services such as donations to poor infants that need help,” Shinhan Bank Cambodia CEO Lee Tae Kyung told The Post in a recent interview.

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Lee is confident of a robust growth in 2020 despite a competitive banking sector. Photo supplied

Dail Community and Thmor Da Junior High School have so far benefitted from such donations.

At present, the bank has six branches and all its ATMs are located within the bank’s premises. However, next year its ATMs will be installed at commercial areas such as in malls and supermarkets.

Lee, the energetic banker and golfer, who only helmed the Cambodian outfit for over less than a year is firmly strategising the bank’s operations not only to ward off competition from rival banks but also preparing the bank to weather any external eventualities.

“Our strategy is to offer competitive interest rates and risk management is very important. Shinhan Bank is famous for its risk management globally, it is important so we can be a sustainable bank.

“There are many competitions in the banking business in Cambodia because it is a developing country.I expect growth to be good next year compared to this year because Cambodia’s economy is in good [shape] though next year GDP [gross domestic product] growth will be slightly less,” said Lee.

Solid asset growth

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Being a people-centric bank is Shinhan’s top priority.

Assets growth is surely an embodiment of the bank’s steady progress in the Kingdom.

For example, in 2017, assets was 40.8 per cent, 33.62 per cent last year and this year until September assets growth reached 44.3 per cent and likely to surpass 50 per cent this year.

Despite global trade uncertainties that continue to stoke fears among bankers and policy-makers, Lee is quite optimistic that Shinhan Bank will wade through the choppy waters next year, if any at all.

“[The] main concern is [from] outside, the EBA [Everything But Arms] and GSP [Generalized System Preferences]. But Cambodia can handle well, Cambodian economy can endure such impact.

“If there is a bubble in the real estate sector, it can be restricted because [some foreign investors] did not borrow money from local banks and it will be a limited issue. And [the volatile] global economy will not have major impact because Cambodia is not much linked to the global economy,” said Lee.