Rami Raslan on corporate governance in the UAE | Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank | Video

World Finance talks to Rami Raslan, Vice President and Senior Corporate Secretary of Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, about how the bank's corporate governance strategy is creating a strong and sustainable future

February 3, 2014

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank is fast becoming the number one bank of choice in the UAE. Rami Raslan, Vice President and Senior Corporate Secretary, talks about the bank’s corporate governance strategy, the first woman to join its board of directors, and how its policies and procedures are shaping a strong and sustainable future.

World Finance: Rami, what’s changed in the boardroom here in the last five years?

Rami S. Raslan: Several changes have happened over the past couple of years on the boardroom level. In particular, the policies and procedures that were scattered all over the bank were governed in one framework in a way that adds value to the overall framework. We have clearly defined the roles and responsibilities between the board and the management, in particular to have a greater, enhanced sense of accountability and responsibility between the two levels.

We have also appointed the first woman to the bank’s board of directors

Additionally, there were several enhancements that happened on the management and the board level. In particular, we have enhanced the risk framework, the risk appetite, we’ve defined clearly the bank’s risk appetite, and the way to achieve those parameters. We have also appointed the first woman to the bank’s board of directors, and this is in line with the international and best practices in terms of involving the female factor in the decision making process. More importantly, it is in line with the government of Abu Dhabi guidelines to have more female individuals involved in the decision making levels, both on a government and on a private sector level.

We have had several enhancements in terms of disclosures and the way that the bank deals with their shareholders. Various enhancements included where in the annual report the fees, the several items that we were pioneer in disclosing to the market, which were very well received by our shareholders.

The board has continued to focus on their effectiveness and engagement through various efforts, in particular through various professional development programs, regular evaluations and continuing to focus on their boardroom practices and procedures. Additionally, the corporate governance committee has involved various businesses of the bank in the corporate governance framework, so basically we got the wholesale banking to come and present on their governance initiatives, we got the consumer banking to come and present on their initiatives, to tell the board where they stand today, what are the low hanging fruits, and what are the intended steps to further enhance their corporate governance initiatives, and this all feeds into a board level committee which governs the entire process.

The board has also continued to realise that risk and remuneration governance continued to be very important aspects on a board level

The board has also continued to realise that risk and remuneration governance continued to be very important aspects on a board level, especially after the Walker and Dodd-Frank reports were out, the board is very well aware of them, they read it and they tried to apply as much principles as possible out of these two reports, in addition to other best practices as well.

World Finance: So what role has good corporate governance played in the turnaround story here at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank?

Rami S. Raslan: Obviously there are areas that the improvement was more evident than others. The bank’s board overall effectiveness has improved dramatically, the board has now strengthened its strategic oversight which provided the bank with a strategic stewardship. The changes that the bank has adopted in terms of risk management have provided serious enhancements to the mitigation and management of all those types of risk. The risk management enhancements contributed more to the internal controls, especially on a board and management level, various board committees, be it the audit and compliance or the credit and risk committee, have both enhanced their internal controls and their ability to manage and to contribute to the risk management framework of the bank.

World Finance: Your bank was ahead of the pack in the UAE in implementing world class standards, so how can that help deliver strong and sustainable growth?

Rami S. Raslan: If a company is well governed, it will usually outperform its competitors. It will not only do that, it will attract investors whose support can finance further growth. At ADCB, the way we apply best practices is dynamic, so we continually assess the best practices and their applicability in this part of the world and to the bank as well, and we are always up to date in terms of what’s going on in the outside world and what best practices are on, even if it’s still in the draft form, so we continually keep ourselves up to date with those best practices.