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‘DISRUPTION LEADS TO INNOVATION! YES WE ARE PREPARED’


Mr. A. E. Abdul Muhaimen is currently serving as the Chief Executive Officer and the Managing Director of United Commercial Bank Limited (UCB). He has joined UCB on July 9th 2013 as the Additional Managing Director. Prior to his joining UCB, he was the Managing Director of National Finance Limited.

Mr. Muhaimen started his career with ANZ Grindlays Bank as a Management Trainee in 1986.he is a senior banking professional with over 27 years of multi-functional experience with six banks in Asia and the Middle East. He has earlier worked as Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director of Brac Bank and also held senior management positions in ANZ Grindlays Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, The City Bank Limited in Bangladesh.

He has a post graduate degree in MBA from institute of Business Administration (IBA), Dhaka. He has trained at INSEAD in Singapore, Mount Eliza of Monash University, Australia and Harvard University, USA. He has served as a director on the board of four companies – BracEPL, Brac EPSL, bKash(mobile banking company) and IIDFC (Non Banking Financial Institution) in Bangladesh.

It’s hard to miss the re-branded United Commercial Bank. With a slick and stylish red & gray logo and an elegant acronym, the billboards of any branch of the bank exude a certain aura that even a passerby can’t evade. Inside, a group of eager bankers are ready to serve your needs—all with smiles and efficiency. A.E Abdul Muhaimen, the incumbent CEO and MD of the bank believes a able human resource is the bank’s main strength and with it, the bank has been serving its large customer base with clinical efficiency. This banking personality recently opened up to Fintech in a brief yet informative interview. Here is an excerpt of that for our Fintech readers.


FINTECH: You have an illustrious career of working with both foreign and local banks. Can you shed some light on your career?

AEA Muhaimen: I started my journey as a Management Trainee in a multinational bank (ANZ Grindlays). Over the last 30+ years I have worked in 8 different banks both (MNCs & Local Banks) at home and in Australia, India and the Middle East. During this time I had been involved in many “firsts” in Bangladesh, introducing Credit Cards & MFS are the notable ones!

FINTECH: Do you think the foreign multinational banks still are way ahead in Bangladesh than their local counterparts? If so, why?

AEA Muhaimen: I believe quite a few of the private commercial banks in Bangladesh are now competing almost on equal footing with the foreign banks in almost all the areas of business, except in correspondent banking lines. The management resource pool in the PCBs, the distribution capability and the technology bench strength have made the local banks in some aspects equal if not better that our partner Foreign MNC Banks.

FINTECH: You have joined here in the UCB in 2013 and since then the Bank has substantially improved its brand image in the market. How do you make that possible?

AEA Muhaimen: UCB always had a strong brand with a loyal customer bases. Today we have 178 branches, a wide range of products and a large alternate distribution network that serve our customers in the communities where we are represented. Apart from the traditional range of products and services, including MFS & Agent Banking, innovative ideas like U-Pay have further improved the “top of the mind brand recall” amongst all the stakeholders of our Brand.

FINTECH: How do you rate UCB among all other local commercial banks in the country? What are the bank’s unique traits? How does it distinguish itself ?

AEA Muhaimen: UCB has been around for 35 years and we are well placed among the top banks in Bangladesh. What makes us unique, is that as a Bank, we have a knowledgeable and supportive Board, a Good Management Team and a loyal work force, that is focused on the strategy of going forward to ensure that UCB remains a strong and sustainable Bank, which will continuously strive to increase the shareholders “value”. We try and distinguish UCB as a bank that partners with the communities where we are present to improve the overall economic wellbeing of our customers.

We are have a strong presence in Corporate and RMG segment and is one of the largest SME Bank in the country, where we are supporting budding enterprenuers to realise their dreams. We are also ramping up our Consumer Business and aim to be a top name within the next three years. We believe in “Unite We Achieve”!

FINTECH: The banks in Bangladesh are sitting on large amount of data. Do you think the banks are using this data to its full potential? Why the banks are not cashing on the big data boom for its growth here in the country?

AEA Muhaimen: A few Banks are working on it. I assume technology capabilities is a limiting factor for those who are still not looking at it. We at UCB, is pushing the envelope on big data, and are working on big data to improve our product range to innovate and provide “tailor” made products and services for each” individual” customer in all the business segments we operate in. One size fits all does not work in today’s dynamic customer base. To further sharpen the customer experience at all out touch points, we are also considering artificial intelligence (AI) tools to stay ahead in the curve.

FINTECH: Investment banks haven’t flourished in Bangladesh’s economy. Why?

AEA Muhaimen: It has started …..but taking its time. In the near future as regulations become more “business friendly”, and in line with the global norms, there will be a proliferation of investment banking opportunities.

FINTECH: How important do you think it is for the financial organization to invest on IT now? What is UCB doing in this regard?

AEA Muhaimen: Technology is a critical aspect of a Bank to manage “scale” and support innovation, productivity and control. UCB have invested heavily on Core Banking System, which has been fully rolled out across all points. We are currently going through an organizational transformation exercise to centralize all aspects of our business operations, from initiation to fulfillment.

The centralization will be on a hub and spoke model given our large distribution network. This we expect to be fully rolled by the second half of 2018. We expect that this transformation, supported by the CBS platform, will significantly improve the customer experience and improve the service standards and turnaround time for all our valued customers.

FINTECH: There is a disruption looming in the banking and financial sector because of the advent of new financial technology? Is UCB ready for that?

AEA Muhaimen: Disruption leads to innovation!! Yes we are prepared. If you look at the strides UCB has taken to embrace change, to cater to the needs of the millennials and the ever changing customer expectation, it dove tails perfectly with the adoption of cutting edge technology, use of big data and revised business model. Upay is an example, where we are building an eco-system that will be almost cashless. As we move boldly into the new world of digital finance, you will see UCB as a front runner. ■

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