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Maybank at 60 – reflecting on the past, looking to the future

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KUALA LUMPUR: When Maybank first opened its doors 60 years ago on Sept 12, 1960 with its first iconic branch in Jalan H.S. Lee, the nation was at a crossroad.

Malaysia, which was then known as Malaya, was a newly-independent country and the bank’s founding fathers, led by the late Tan Sri Khoo Teck Puat, had one main mission – to help finance its economic growth and make banking more accessible to its people.

No one knew whether the bank would survive in an environment long dominated by foreign banks, or if it would flounder amidst competition from the “giants”.

As it marks its 60th anniversary on Saturday, Maybank Group president and CEO Datuk Abdul Farid Alias looks back with gratitude to all those who were instrumental in making the bank one of Malaysia’s success stories.

“We have many to be thankful to – our leaders and employees who built the bank, our loyal customers, the regulators, business partners, investors, and the wider community,” he acknowledged.

It is their collective support that has made Maybank the country’s largest listed entity and Southeast Asia’s fourth-largest bank with over 2,600 retail branches globally, he told Bernama.

Maybank operates in home markets of Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

The group also has presence in the Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong, China, Thailand, India, Uzbekistan, United Arab Emirates, Laos, Myanmar, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

“I believe our founding values from the purpose of the bank itself – humanising financial services to building trust – will continue to drive Maybank’s success in the future if we remain true to them.

“From the outset, our founding fathers were committed to bringing banking services to the masses. They were concerned that ordinary people should have access to financing and be able to progress economically and socially,” said Farid.

This was closely linked to the bank’s aspiration to support nation and community-building, as it realised that the young fledgling Malaya needed to survive as an independent country and build a better life for its people.

“We have never run away from these principles – whether in Malaysia or in all other countries where we operate today – our purpose is the same and many governments recognised this.

“In fact, it has grown more all-encompassing and transformed into our overarching mission – which is ‘humanising financial services’.

In its first annual report in June 1961, after nine months of operations, Maybank made US$53,509 (RM223,000) in net profit and had assets worth US$102 million.

Thanks to the prudent stance over the years, the group has built a solid foundation, recording a net profit of RM8.2 billion in 2019, with assets exceeding RM834 billion.

It is this innate commitment to being prudent that has also made Maybank resilient enough to withstand the impact of black swan events.

Farid said Maybank is continuously working hard in finding the right balance to assist its clients and the relevant economies on their journeys to sustainable operations, given the delicate balance between sustainable and inclusive economic development.

“We want to do the right thing, guided by our mission and ensure that we build a sustainable future for all.”

He acknowledges that while Maybank has generally enjoyed steady success over the years, it has not been without its fair share of challenges.

But even as he looks back with gratitude, Farid said Maybank is actively planning for a future totally different from the past.

“We are living on the cusp of a radically different world, especially with this pandemic. It is ironic that at this milestone in our history, we are challenged anew like when we first started – can we remain resilient in a world where everything is totally disrupted?”

“We often say ‘time will tell’, but now we have to think differently.

“There is a saying – tomorrow is now, it is today that we must create the world of the future. So we are not going to wait for it to unfold – rather, we are working hard to create the future for our following generations,” he said.

It is on this premise that Farid remains confident no matter what, Maybank will be resilient and continue to grow in the years to come. – Bernama