PhillipBank and Kredit MFI merger boon to local staff, financial inclusion

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Ong says reskilling of employees will be a top priority once the merger is completed.

When PhillipBank and Kredit Microfinance Institution Plc (MFI) merge, some 1,700 employees will be reskilled with new banking skills, which will help to expand the banking services across the Kingdom and deepen financial inclusion.

PhillipBank, part of Singapore-based PhillipCapital Group, and Kredit MFI, will complete their merger by end of this year.

While mergers and acquisitions often lead to downsizing of workforce to improve productivity, in this case the outcome could be different.

PhillipBank’s Shareholders’ Representative Ong Teong Hoon has set out his vision clearly despite early “trepidation” towards the corporate exercise. Ong explained to The Post about his plans for the merger.

‘’In any merger or acquisition there will be redundancy, retrenchment. In our case, nobody is going to lose their jobs. When we become a merged commercial bank, there will be more products, more job functions and we will redeploy some employees and give everyone a chance to grow.

“For that growth to happen, staff’s skill sets will be upgraded through training in (both) hard skills such as banking technical skills, and soft skills, such as a mindset change to better prepare them for the new business environment.”

The merger has received positive feedback from staff at both ends, said Ong.

“[The] good thing is people in Kredit MFI are looking forward to becoming a bank. And people in the bank are happy that from six bank branches it will become 80 to 90 branches. Typically in a merger and acquisition scenario, there is the mindset of the victor and the vanquished but in our case, both parties belong to the same shareholder. We are getting married as equal partners,” he added.

Both Kredit MFI and PhillipBank belong to the same Phillip Capital Group of Companies.

However, the exercise is “not going to be a walk in the park” cautioned Ong, as the two are entirely different entities and both institutions have different customer profiles and hence, different methods of conducting their businesses.

PhillipBank has only six branches and 250 staff, while Kredit MFI boasts of 83 branches, backed by a strong workforce of nearly 1,700 staff, and mainly serves rural customers.

“We have to be realistic, Kredit [MFI] is a microfinance and Phillip [Bank] is a commercial bank. Both have different cultural mindsets and practices. Microfinances are used to lending money to the poor segment. Commercial banks are used to lending money to the lower middle and upper income [groups].

“There is going to be a lot of adjustments, there are new products that have to be thought through, skill sets need to be transferred and mindsets got to change. In banks, customers tend to be more demanding but I am not sure if that is the same of customers in the micro-finance space.

“By merging, we are covering the entire spectrum, from the “less affluent” to the “better off” and the reason we want to do that is we see a convergence between commercial banks and microfinance institution. We see commercial banks reducing their loan sizes and some microfinance institutions moving up the scale.

PhillipBank will bring several competitive advantages once the merger is completed, such as mobile/internet banking, digitalisation of its operations, remittance and most importantly, is the re-skilling of employees.

“I started with little trepidation but customers will benefit. I will immediately introduce internet banking, we are looking very earnestly at digitalization and will embrace fintech. It is going to be a massive challenge but it is worth taking. End of the day, we as a bank will cater to the full spectrum of customers,” said Ong, who is optimistic of the merger.

About PhillipCapital:

We are the Phillip Capital Group of companies operating in Cambodia since 2009.

Headquartered in Singapore and established since 1975, the Group operates in financial hubs in over 15 countries including the USA, UK, Turkey, China, Australia, Japan, UAE, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Singapore.

We have 5,000 employees and more than one million clients worldwide providing services ranging from securities broking, futures& derivatives trading, commodities trading, foreign exchange, fund management, life and general insurance, and property consultancy. The Group’s shareholder funds is in excess of USD1.5billion.

In Cambodia we are represented by Phillip Bank with our six branches which will soon merge with KREDIT MFI, a microfinance institution, with more than 80 branches. Together we will have the third largest branch network in Cambodia. We are complemented by our two wholly owned insurance companies Phillip General and Phillip Life. We are, in short, a financial services supermarket offering a complete suite of financial and protection products backed up with convenient access by our presence throughout the kingdom of Cambodia.

PhillipBank:

Phillip Bank Plc is the only Singaporean owned Commercial Bank operating in Cambodia. Together with our sister company, KREDIT MFI, with which we are in the process of merging, we offer a range of financial services and products to Corporate, Retail, SME, and Microfinance customers. These products are uniquely bundled or packaged with insurance protection offered by our two wholly owned insurance companies, Phillip General and Phillip Life.

Our recent product promotions include Auto Loans with free insurance cover, multi-purpose easy-to-apply Personal Loans, and Auto Save accounts which pay a high interest on checking accounts.

We are therefore a unique Bank in this market, unique in our ability to meet the entire lifetime financial and protection needs of our customers through product innovation and convenient physical and on-line access, catering to a wide range of customer segments from lower to middle-income customers, to high net worth individuals, SMEs and larger corporations.

PhillipGeneralInsurance:

The growth of the insurance market over the past two decades has been remarkable. In spite of the challenges in this young market such as public awareness and human resource issues, prospects for growth are bright. At Phillip General Insurance, we see these challenges as opportunities by offering better protection and real benefits. Our strength is in the expedient settlement of claims. We are committed to superior claims services as we stand by every cover be it for the protection of businesses, homes, property or personal protection. It is our corporate policy and principle to issue payments on claims within 7 working days.

PhillipLifeInsurance:

Phillip Life Assurance Cambodia is quickly forging ahead as part of the nascent and fast expanding Cambodian Life Insurance industry, offering competitive products in both commercial and retail markets.We are ably supported by Phillip Life Assurance Thailand, a market leader in online insurance, and Phillip Capital Singapore, which brings with it a global network of financial services institutions.Together with our sister companies, Phillip General Insurance, and Phillip Bank, we will soon be offering Cambodians a full suite of innovative financial products and services that they can easily access throughout the country.We are proud of our strong foundation – our solid financial backing from Phillip Capital shows that we are trusted stewards of our clients’ savings, and our international standards means we can deliver outstanding customer service and performance to all Cambodians.