Pierre Imhof on Brunei’s banking needs | Baiduri Bank
World Finance interviews Pierre Imhof, CEO of Baiduri Bank, on the specific needs of their customers in Brunei, and the benefits of being a local bank.
Brunei is very wealthy for its small size, but not without its problems. To deal with some excessive levels of personal debt the government has created a credit bureau to assist banks with their risk management. Pierre Imhof, CEO of Baiduri Bank, discusses some of the products and programs that have helped them to successfully meet the needs of their customers.
World Finance: Brunei’s never had a credit bureau before, why now?
Pierre Imhof: Well, it’s better to have it now than not to have it at all. We have been operating in such an environment without a credit bureau for many years, Baiduri Bank had developed its own processes and procedures for credit control and risk assessment. But of course, having a credit bureau will be a very positive move for banks. To have access to a database giving us the overall indebtedness of our clients, or our future clients, is something that we have been looking forward to for months and years.
“As a local bank, it is important for us to know our clients well, to listen to them”
World Finance: Good risk management is one of the reasons for Baiduri Bank’s leading position in Brunei, talk us through some of your other strengths.
Pierre Imhof: First, Baiduri Bank is a local bank. As a local bank, it is important for us to know our clients well, to listen to them, to identify their needs and then to respond to their needs. And secondly, we do it in a flexible way. We are domestic, our decision making process is done locally and, as such, we are able to answer to our clients much faster than I believe most of our competitors do. Another reason is that we have developed a business model that is made of three pillars; we have retail banking, we have corporate banking, and we have car financing. These three pillars are allowing us to cover a wide range of products to our clients so this is also a very strong point for our success.
“Bruneians need a car and once they’ve chosen a car, they want to have it quickly”
World Finance: You’ve talked about car financing, which is provided through your subsidiary Baiduri Finance, you have a 60% market share why is this so successful?
Pierre Imhof: The fast processing of requests from our clients. Cars are extremely important in Brunei for our clients, there is limited public transportation so Bruneians need a car and once they’ve chosen a car, they want to have it quickly. So we have developed a process which allows us to be extremely responsive and very fast to grant this to our customers.
World Finance: You are well known for innovating in the local market; tell us about some of your new products and services.
Pierre Imhof: We have just launched a few months ago our executive program. We already had a prestige program for four years, which was offered to our very high net worth individuals and clients, but we needed a program to offer to the younger generation (successful, well-educated, promising) and this category of people now also has additional benefits- probably more trendy, relying more on electronic channels, and also having some preferential treatment at our branches where they have dedicated counters.
“We are now getting more specialised and able to undertake more sophisticated financing for corporates”
World Finance: Finally, Brunei has an increasingly competitive banking sector, what are your plans for the future?
Pierre Imhof: We are still focussing very much on the three pillars that we have built. I was mentioning car financing, retail, and corporate banking. In the immediate future, in line with our image of innovation, we will launch a marketing app for retail, which will give some information to our clients about our activities, events, products, and rates. We will also launch a mobile app for our customers who want to bank and do transactions through their mobile. And of course, corporate banking is an area with a number of projects (infrastructure, oil and gas projects), which are developed in Brunei, where we want to be more and more present. We are now getting more specialised and able to undertake more sophisticated financing for corporates, which are still small in Brunei but which are getting bigger and more demanding.
World Finance: Pierre, thank you.
Pierre Imhof: You’re welcome.