Baiduri Bank soars ahead as Brunei economy prospers | World Finance Videos

World Finance speaks to Pierre Imhof, CEO and President of Baiduri Bank, about the institution's role in the growth of the Brunei economy

June 25, 2014

Brunei was largely unaffected by the global financial crisis, and now with its healthy fiscal balance and low unemployment rate, the country’s economy looks set to prosper. World Finance speaks to Pierre Imhof, CEO and President of Baiduri Bank, about Brunei’s financial sector, what the institution is doing to support SMEs, and how technology is changing business.

World Finance: Well Pierre, how developed is the financial sector in Brunei?

Pierre Imhof: The banking sector is rather developed. Not the financial sector, because there is no stock exchange, for example, and a very limited bond market.

Although it’s a small country and a small country – there are just a few more than 400,000 people – they are demanding, they are wealthy, and therefore they’re travelled. They know what banks offer all around the world. And they are asking for a high quality of service, and a high diversity of products.

Banks have been strong, and have developed well in the country. But recently the authorities were a bit preoccupied by the over-indebtedness of the population, and they have taken a number of measures which have reduced the margin of the banks. And therefore a number of banks – mainly foreign banks – have decided to right size their operation in order to address this issue of cost with a cap on lending rates and a floor on deposit rates.

Banks have been strong, and have developed well in the country

But overall the banking system is doing well, and Baiduri Bank is also doing well.

World Finance: Well how is Baiduri Bank positioned in the country?

Pierre Imhof: We have been doing very well, thanks to a business which is developed around three poles. Our core business is our retail banking for individuals; corporate banking services to companies; and consumer finance.

World Finance: Well as a local bank you’re committed to supporting the growth of small- and medium-sized enterprises; how do you go about this?

Pierre Imhof: SMEs represent more than 90 percent of the companies in Brunei.

Definitely Baiduri Bank must be present in this segment, and Baiduri Bank is focusing very much on banking services to SMEs.

We have developed a number of products jointly with the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, tailor-made for these SMEs, so definitely it is important for us to continue to focus and develop our offer to SMEs.

World Finance: Well your bank has a strong corporate social responsibility programme; how does this aid the development of the country?

Pierre Imhof: We have a number of initiatives. The major one is a charity golf tournament, which is the biggest event in Brunei in golf. And we are also sponsoring a number of events, or taking a number of initiatives, some of them driven by the United Nations. And definitely it is important for us to be present and to show our social responsibility.

Baiduri Bank is focusing very much on banking services to SMEs

World Finance: Well how would you say technology is changing the face of banking in the country?

Pierre Imhof: Bruneians are very techno-savvy. Mainly the young generation. So we are investing a lot in technology, and we are offering them a number of ways to access Baiduri Bank’s services using the latest technologies.

World Finance: Well finally, what’s next for the bank?

Pierre Imhof: We are well positioned in Brunei. We have been doing well. But Brunei is a small country, as I said. And definitely we have ambitions: first to grow further in Brunei, but also to develop outside Brunei, in the region, if we find opportunities.

We have recently obtained the rating from Standard and Poor’s of BBB+ with a stable outlook. And definitely this is for us showing the bank is financially strong. It gives us access to the international market, and it will definitely help us in our search of opportunities.

World Finance: Pierre, thank you.

Pierre Imhof: Thank you.