Myanmar's best domestic bank 2018: Aya Bank
Ayeyarwady Bank, more commonly known as Aya Bank, is a fascinating financial institution. Founded in 2010 by the tycoon Zaw Zaw, it has never been afraid to think differently and ahead of the curve. In 2015, it became the first local lender to meet IFRS compliance requirements and to be audited by one of the big four global accounting firms.
An early pioneer in mobile and internet banking, it has invested heavily over the last year to upgrade its core banking system. It voluntarily underwent its first human rights audit in 2014 and was the first Myanmar bank to invite independent directors onto its board.
It clearly believes in equality in action as well as in theory: a shade under 60% of the staff are female; women occupy senior positions at the executive level, including the vice-chair, executive director and deputy managing director.
This rapid change, Aya Bank hopes, is just the start, given that less than 10% of people have access to a formal bank account. It opened its 220th branch in 2017, employs more than 8,200 staff, and oversees K4 trillion ($3 billion) in deposits and K3.5 billion in assets. It also serves 1.3 million customers, a number that has jumped by 900,000 in three years.
In February this year, the bank put in a formal request to the central bank to raise fresh capital to boost its capital adequacy ratio to 10% by the end of 2019.
It recently launched an underwriting business, Aya Trust Securities, with more than half an eye on its own future stock listing.
Aya also has the respect of its peers: on a visit to Yangon in February, every bank chief executive interviewed by Asiamoney talked openly about their respect for the lender. A worthy winner of this award.