Banking on a better Philippines

By TG Limcaoco, President and CEO, BPI

When one thinks of BPI, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll be brought back to its origins as the first bank both in the Philippines and Southeast Asia. I certainly did when I was first informed that I would be taking my turn as the chief steward of this 170-year old institution.

It bears noting that the Republic of the Philippines celebrated its 123rd birthday last June 12. We are among a handful of companies to predate the country and witness every upheaval that our relatively young republic has endured.

For BPI to have emerged as a beacon of economic stability and reliability, one must give due credit to the wisdom and foresight of our previous leaders. To consider the work that has gone into bringing BPI to where it is today fills me with a deep sense of gratitude, humility, and the determination to live up to their legacy.

I, along with every BPI Unibanker today, stand on the shoulders of giants. The challenge for all of us, as we find ourselves at a crucial turning point for our bank and our country, is to do everything we can to ensure that we position ourselves and the people we serve towards financial recovery and resilience.

To get there, we have five key priorities:

1. To be undisputed leader in digital banking. The pandemic has accelerated digital banking adoption among Filipinos, and all indicators say that there’s simply no turning back. If we truly want to be the Philippines’ undisputed banking leader, we must ensure that each and every one of our customers, without exception, has digital access to our services and products.

2. Increase the share of SMEs and consumers in our loan book. Collectively, SMEs employ over 60% of the Filipino workforce. Supporting them through financial products that help grow and sustain their businesses positively impacts and helps secure the future of ordinary hardworking Filipinos.

3. Close the gap in funding leadership. We want to be the leader and increase our market share in the industry. We will only achieve this if we actively seek funding opportunities to grow as we pursue digital banking innovations and enhance customer service.

4. Establish the new role of branches as sales points and not only as service points. Branches will remain an integral part of BPI, but I believe their greater potential lies in providing financial advisory services and financial literacy sessions for customers, and as a space where our customers can explore the many ways in which we can help improve their financial well-being.

5. Set the standard for sustainable and responsible banking. To build a genuinely sustainable banking business, we must integrate all the ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) factors into every aspect of our business. We will strive to be more inclusive and reach out to the underserved. For us in BPI, it is actually ESG + E. It is a formula unique to us, where the last E stands for Economic Growth, since we cannot be truly sustainable unless we consider economic growth not only for our customers but also for our country.

Passion for the customer

As we take these priorities to heart, we must not lose sight of the fact of who we’re doing all these for: The Customer.

Having good numbers is important, but we should see it merely as a consequence of the trust that our customers have in BPI. In return for that trust, we must ensure that they feel our gratitude and our passion to provide them an excellent banking experience and the best financial services.

Having great digital banking platforms is important, not just for the sake of having the most sophisticated technology, but to be able to provide the customers what they need when they need it. Our digital platforms are our most constant touchpoints with our customers, so they should feel good and fulfilled about every single login and transaction.

Some may wonder where my passion for customer service excellence comes from. To give some context, I’ve always wanted to be a banker, even as a child. It may sound like an odd childhood ambition, but I’ve always enjoyed mathematics and I learned early on from lessons from my father that financial management was basically math at work.

I also wanted to be a teacher, and being a banker has allowed me to live out that dream through the officers I’ve mentored and through our advocacy of financial literacy and education.

Mission as a banker

Over the many years of my career, I realized something about banking that made me more passionate about it than my pure love of numbers: Our work helps people.

Banking was never just about booking a loan, fund raising, or opening an account. It’s about letting people live their dreams of a better life. It’s about giving a business the means to grow so it can serve more people and provide decent work for its employees. It’s about helping our clients better understand their financial situation so they can take steps to secure their families’ future.

While we expect more challenges in 2021, we at BPI look forward to celebrating our 170th anniversary with more innovation, better engagement with our customers, taking sustainability to the next level, and most importantly, a better Philippines.

Published on June  21, 2021

About the Author

TG  LIMCAOCO | President & CEO

TG brings his genuine passion for the customer and sustainability to his approach to business and leadership. He is a committed family man and an avid runner. He is also a fan of rap music and is known to occasionally bust out rhymes and quote classic rappers in his speeches.

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