New independent director hopes to 'add value' to Techcombank

May 03, 2024 | 18:14
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World-class banking veteran Eugene Keith Galbraith hopes to add value by drawing on his vast experience in Indonesia to help Techcombank achieve its vision of becoming a top bank in the region and the partner of choice for customers.

Embarking on his new journey as an independent director at Vietnam-based Techcombank, Eugene Keith Galbraith recalled the first time he came to Vietnam in 2018 with feelings of, "happiness, but no special expectation."

New independent director hopes to 'add value' to Techcombank

Even still, the country amazed him. Galbraith said Vietnam gave him a sense of comfort through its culture and business environment, during an interview at Techcombank’s brand-new head office in Hanoi in late April.

Throughout his 40-year career, Galbraith’s roles in the finance industry have included vice-president commissioner of PT Bank NISP Tbk, managing director of ABN AMRO Asia, and senior advisor to the Indonesian Ministry of Finance.

Building a business of trust

Back to the present, Galbraith was thrilled with Techcombank’s offer to join the organisation as an independent board member.

"I jumped at the chance. This is a great opportunity for me to learn about a new and dynamic country, and also become part of Techcombank's success story," said Galbraith.

An avid reader, Galbraith suggested Marshall McLuhan’s book 'Understanding Media' in which the author described that in the media world, it was not the content but the modality of delivery that mattered.

New and revamped customer value propositions introduced during 2023 helped to make Techcombank the primary banking relationship of its customers.

"It's very relevant to digital banking services because what you want to develop is not just profitable relationships, but 'sticky' relationships. That's where digital transformation has to be managed carefully," Galbraith said.

While it is common knowledge that digital tools help with cost saving and efficiency, to Galbraith, it is all about trust.

"So it's essential that banks maintain a warm rather than a cool medium where there's no loyalty, and the intimacy between the consumers and the products is lost," he continued.

The leadership team at Techcombank shares his philosophy. The bank has streamlined its processes, front-end and back-end, to offer simplified, convenient features and make transactions just one click away, while ensuring security at its best.

Numbers speak for itself. In 2023, Techcombank acquired 2.6 million new customers, an increase of 230 per cent compared to the previous year, and almost half of these came through online channels.

The bank has a customer-centric strategy, and digital engagement plays a key part in this approach, with 94 per cent of retail transactions conducted online and about 88 per cent of corporate customers active on digital platforms last year.

New and revamped customer value propositions introduced during 2023 helped to make Techcombank the primary banking relationship of its customers.

In the application of data to deliver better customer experiences, Techcombank has leveraged the most innovative technologies and capabilities to build its proprietary data platform, or ‘data lake’, which Galbraith described as, "bleeding-edge, advanced, and praiseworthy."

The banking expert was impressed by how Techcombank was not just collecting data, but is analysing it to build a more holistic understanding of its customers and provide tailored value propositions, and linking it to the latest AI technologies to provide hyper-personalised customer experiences.

Galbraith believes being convenient, secure, and reliable is the key to success of a digital banking platform. As long as banks have the same interests as their customers, and deliver a secure, easy-to-access platform, they will excel as the bank of choice.

"That will also put your bank in a strong competitive position to drive non-term deposit accounts because customers seek value that is not strictly monetary when they deposit their hard-earned money with you," he said.

Widening perspectives

As he's joining a new workplace, Galbraith said he was impressed with how Techcombank remained open and receptive to new ideas even after achieving astonishing growth and success recently.

In addition to a strong domestic workforce, the bank has also welcomed a significant number of foreign experts and overseas Vietnamese who have chosen to return to their country.

For instance, in 2023, the bank held a talent roadshow in Sydney to seek talent working in the city's financial centre.

"Domestic and international perspectives make a winning combination for the bank's success," according to Galbraith.

For his part, he pledges to offer his experience and perspectives on how the bank is operating, giving opinion on areas to improve, or where the bank can continue to do more.

"The participation of any individual in the formulation of a company’s strategy is like making a soup. While the whole thing becomes delicious, it's hard to point to any individual spice as the key success factor," the new board member said.

His longstanding and extensive knowledge of the financial market in Indonesia, a country witnessing the same pace of growth and demographics as Vietnam, is relevant to the journey Techcombank is on.

Even though Vietnam’s banking industry is at an earlier stage than Indonesia’s, Techcombank’s growth strategy and drivers show many parallels with his former bank, BCA.

For example, Galbraith helped BCA strengthen its position in the affluent customer segment, which is also the focus of Techcombank.

"It’s a wise decision," he said, "and it's a big market. Vietnam is home to 100 million people, and there's no need to bank everybody."

Techcombank is already deemed to be in a position of strength. Its sustained profitability, balance sheet strength, and asset quality have demonstrated the success of its customer-centric strategy, the progress of its digital transformation and the robustness of its business model.

"The way to continue this success story," he added, "lies in how the bank constructs its business in a way that it can provide the best services at the lowest risk, with the highest returns."

Galbraith brings vast experience and knowledge of the banking industry to Techcombank’s Board. Most recently, he spent 17 years with Bank Central Asia (BCA), one of Indonesia’s top banks, where he served as president commissioner and then vice-president director.

Before that, he was an advisor to the Indonesian Ministry of Finance and managing director of ABN AMRO Asia. Given the similarities between Techcombank and BCA in terms of business model, affluent customer focus, as well as digital innovation, Galbraith is expected to help Techcombank further strengthen its corporate governance and accelerate its digital transformation to become a leader in the region.

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