Pubali Bank Limited has vowed to ensure corporate governance through strengthening professionalism along with providing better services to customers embarking on the latest technologies.
"We believe the confidence of customers is the cornerstone of our progress," Md Abdul Halim Chowdhury, managing director (MD) and chief executive officer (CEO) of the bank told the Financial Express (FE) in an exclusive interview recently to mark the bank's 60th founding anniversary.
Pubali Bank Ltd, formerly known as the Eastern Mercantile Bank Ltd is the country's first commercial bank, owned by Bengali entrepreneurs.
The bank started its journey in 1959 and was nationalised in 1972.
The private commercial bank (PCB) is running its business with a vision of providing customer centric life-long banking services, the senior banker explained.
The PCB has also planned to bring down the percentage of classified loan at 4.0 per cent by December 2019 from the existing level of 5.0 per cent, which is below the industry average of 11.69 per cent, for improving its financial health further.
"We've already expedited our recovery drives to reduce the volume of non-performing loans (NPLs)," Mr. Chowdhury said while replying to a query.
The first generation leading conventional bank recovered Tk 5.42 billion from defaulters including top 20 ones as on September 30, the CEO added.
Besides, the Bangladesh Bank (BB)'s latest policy will help slashing the amount of NPLs in the country's banking sector including Pubali Bank by the end of this calendar year, according to the senior banker.
The central bank offered a special facility to loan defaulters on May 16, allowing them to reschedule loans by paying 2.0 per cent down payment for a maximum of 10 years.
He also urged the authorities concerned for taking effective measures to ensure enforcement of the existing rules and regulations properly to reduce the amount of NPLs in the banking sector.
"We're now working to be the number one performing PCB within the next five years through improving professionalism with skilled human resources," Mr. Chowdhury, a 34-year experienced commercial banker, said while replying to another query.
He also hoped that skilled workforce, good corporate culture and the use of financial technology (FinTech) will help the bank to achieve its desired goal within the timeframe.
FinTech is the new technology and innovation that aims to compete with traditional financial methods in the delivery of financial services.
"We believe integrity and ethical behavior should be a fundamental requirement in choosing corporate officers and board members. So we have developed a code of conduct for the directors and executives of the bank," Mr. Chowdhury explained.
The trend of key indicators including paid-up capital, deposits and loans show that the PCB has started turnaround significantly from 2009 that continued till September 30, 2019.
Pubali's paid-up capital rose to Tk 10.28 billion in September 2019 from Tk 3.82 billion in 2009. It was Tk 160 million in 1999.
The aggregate deposit of Pubali Bank stood at Tk 342.06 billion till September 2019 from Tk 88.47 billion while loans rose to Tk 281.63 billion from Tk 74.20 billion.
Pubali Bank has sanctioned credit after completing due diligence properly to avoid loan concentration to a particular sector.
"Our exposure to any sectors is maximum 10 per cent of total outstanding loans for minimising risk," the CEO elaborated.
Actually, the leading PCB is now diversifying its portfolios aiming to add increased value to shareholders' investments and offer highest possible benefits to the customers using the latest innovative technologies, he added.
Pubali's investment in small and medium enterprises (SME) has reached to more than 60 per cent in its total loans and advances and the remaining around 40 per cent in corporate entities.
"We want to achieve strong corporate growth through strengthening financial inclusion programmes across the country," Mr. Chowdhury asserted.
He also said the bank is emphasising investment in productive sector particularly SME and agriculture ones to facilitate socio-economic development of Bangladesh through creating employment opportunities across the country.
Pubali is also working for the underprivileged people, rolling out different deposit products.
On the other hand, the PCB has also planned to expedite its treasury function along with offshore banking operation to provide better services to their clients particularly corporate ones, according to the MD.
He also said the bank offers foreign currency loans to the corporate clients at 5.0 per cent interest rate through offshore banking operation.
Pubali has significant investment in both subordinated and Bangladesh Government Treasury Bonds (BGTBs) as part of jacking its treasury operation up, the CEO explained.
"We're working to set up nine more branches at different part of the country by the end of this calendar year," Mr. Chowdhury disclosed while sharing his future plans for boosting financial health of the leading PCB.