Biz Sch News 30 July 2014

Service in the Banking Sector: Obstacles & Opportunities

The banking industry is undergoing massive changes. Financial institutions now have to deal with increased regulations after the 2008 global financial crisis, rapid and disruptive technological advances, as well as the emergence of big data and social media. Despite these changes, keeping the interests of customers at heart and providing them the best service should still remain the basic guiding principle for banks. This is according to the titans of Asia’s financial and banking industries who came together for the 6th Wee Cho Yaw Singapore-China Finance and Banking Forum held on 25th July at the Four Seasons Hotel, Singapore.

WCY Forum

“An authentic culture of service helps to keep an institution focused on doing what is right for the customer,” said UOB chairman Mr Hsieh Fu Hua in his opening remarks. “Not just at that moment in time, but for the long term. If the culture of service is not authentic, then new regulations become a burden. Banks that can manage new regulatory requirements without compromising service standards or the robustness of their processes will in turn win more customers.”

WCY Forum

But the recent global financial crisis has resulted in some profound changes in the regulatory structure and requirements of banks, which has serious implications on business models and profitability, remarked Mr Michael Zink, Head of ASEAN and Country Officer of Singapore for Citigroup, in a panel discussion that followed.

WCY Forum

Ms Teo Swee Lian, Special Advisor, Managing Director’s office, Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), suggested that banks, the customers and the regulators should take collective responsibility. “From a regulator’s point of view, I think that we’d be very, very happy to not have to come out with a lot of prescriptive regulations, if (the) industry could self-regulate. That means that they have to make sure that there is the DNA within their institution to be able to do that self-regulation, from top-down, bottom-up, inside-out.” she added. Other leaders like Mr Robert Lagerwey, Vice President, Operations, Capella Hotel Group Asia and Mr Piyush Gupta, Group CEO of DBS also shared how their organisations strive to keep service at the core of all their business operations. “At DBS the attempt is three-fold: be respectful in nature, easy to deal with, and dependable so that customers get their money when they need it. How to achieve this all the time is a challenge of course,” Mr Gupta said.

WCY Forum

The forum, organised by the School’s Centre for Asset Management Research and Investments (CAMRI), attracted close to 400 participants, including Asia’s key finance professionals. Professor Anthony Neoh, Dean’s Visiting Professor and former Chief Adviser, China Securities Regulatory Commission, was the moderator for the event and Dean Bernard Yeung shared closing remarks. A private lunch preceded the forum during which Mr Steve Leonard, Executive Deputy Chairman of Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore presented how technology is bridging the skills gap in the banking industry.

To view the media coverage of the forum, click here and here. To view more photos, click here.