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The Bank of the Philippine Islands story 2018

by Atty. Ignacio R. Bunye

During the annual stockholders meeting of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) held recently, Chair Jaime Zobel de Ayala (JAZA) recounted the bank’s many success stories in 2017.

BPI President and CEO Cezar P. Consing followed JAZA’s narrative with what the shareholders and other stakeholders can expect from BPI in 2018.

BPI’s strategic initiatives this year, according to Consing, would be four-fold:
– Increasing the bank’s level of digitalization
– Prioritizing CASA growth by enhancing deposit franchise and delivery infrastructure
– Accelerating the growth of SME and retail loans
– Continuing to build on BPI’s microfinance business.

“While we are already a leader in the area of digitalization among Philippine banks, our objective is to double the percentage of clients that access us digitally in the next five years,” Consing said.

BPI maintains the following digital platforms – Bizlink, BPI Expressonline, BPI Express Mobile – all designed to deliver superior customer experience while reducing cost. Active users of these channels grew double digit in 2017.

Consing also announced that BPI would be expanding in key provincial cities where economic growth is expected to outpace that of the Manila commercial business district.

Further, BPI will endeavor to convert most outlets to one-stop shops that provide a whole range of services including cash management, bancassurance, asset management, securities management, credit facilities, payments and remittances, and forex products and services.

Cognizant of the important role of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) in driving economic growth, Consing reported that BPI recently created the Business Banking Group to focus more on this client segment. Presently, SME loans account for less than 10 percent of total bank lendings.

“The Business Banking Group will cater to over 100,000 SME clients that maintain deposits with us, but for the most part, do not avail of our other financial services, including business loans,” Consing explained.

BPI also recently overhauled its auto and housing loan processes, not only by reducing processing turn-around time but also by partnering with developers and auto dealers to achieve better distribution balance.

BPI intends to expand its microfinance footprint by growing BPI Direct Banko’s branches and microbanking offices from nine to 103. Consing predicted that microfinance loans will grow close to P2billion in 2018, compared to P450 million in 2017.

BPI Direct Banko’s target clientele consists of self-employed micro-entrepreneurs (SEMEs), many of whom do not have access to the formal banking system for their financing needs.

BPI Foundation, meanwhile, will continue to be active in improving the social and economic well-being of Filipinos through education, environmental sustainability, and a committed advocacy on social entrepreneurship.

Consing expressed confidence that this time next year, BPI will continue to report “exemplary financial performance” and a “growth built on enriching relationships, growth that is inclusive and relevant to our clients and our nation.”

Consing promised BPI’s shareholders and stakeholders “a continuing story of professionalism and care – that stretches over 166 years – which makes BPI special.”

(Disclosure: The writer is currently an independent director of Bank of the Philippine Islands and BPI Asset Management and Trust Co.)