Thailand's best international bank 2020: UOB (Thai)
Selecting the best international bank in Thailand is never easy given the competing claims of regional and global financial institutions who have scored high marks in capital markets business, M&A advisory, cross-border deals or digital banking. Often the bank that comes out top in one of these markets stumbles in another.
During the latest review period, from June 1, 2019 to May 31, 2020, competition for the top honours was particularly fierce. Credit Suisse ticked many of the boxes with its strong showing in ECM. UBS also did well both in M&A and ECM.
But looking at the strengths and weaknesses across the breadth of the markets, it was clear that United Overseas Bank (Thai) should come out on top.
Singapore-based UOB entered Thailand in 1999 in the wake of the Asian financial crisis and has never looked back. Under CEO Tan Choon Hin, the bank has blazed a trail on the technology front. Last year, it wheeled out the first mobile-only bank in the country, a service named TMRW.
As of the first nine months of operation, TMRW had achieved 150% of its customer target with more than 65% of the customer base having an above average income.
But digital technology is just one of UOB’s many strengths. The bank is also strong in SMEs.
In retail banking, UOB outperformed the market in all key drivers, with deposits up 12%, credit card billings up 11% and housing loans up 9%. In wholesale banking, total loans increased 8% over the previous year.
Bottom line performance was also impressive. Net profit before tax rose 5.6% to reach Bt5.6 billion ($178 million) despite difficult operating conditions.
So what is the secret of the bank’s success?
“It all boils down to one word: commitment,” says Tan. “We put our customers first.”
To round it off, UOB has also shown itself to be a big CSR contributor by donating funds to support medical personnel battling the Covid-19 pandemic. For this and its many other standouts, UOB is a deserved winner of the best international bank award.