The Business Year

SA22_FI_SNB_ Ammar Alkhudairy_photo

SAUDI ARABIA - Agriculture

Ammar Abdulwahid Alkhudairy

Chairman, Saudi National Bank (SNB)

Bio

Ammar Abdulwahid Alkhudairy is the Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Saudi National Bank. He is a non-executive Board member. He played key leadership roles in various Saudi financial institutions, including Riyad Bank, United Saudi Bank, and Banque Saudi Fransi. Mr. Alkhudairy was also a board member from 2015 to 2018, chairman of the Audit Committee from 2015 to 2018, and served as the interim managing director/CEO at Banque Saudi Fransi from October 2017 to March 2018. Mr. Alkhudairy has over 30 years’ experience in the financial sector, with a special focus on the areas of corporate banking, project finance, corporate finance, M&A, and asset management. He currently serves as deputy chairman of SPIMACO, and a board member of Almarai. He has also served as a member on various public and private boards, including chairman of Goldman Sachs Saudi Arabia, chairman of Morgan Stanley Saudi Arabia, chairman of Allianz Saudi Arabia, chairman of Herfy Company, SAVOLA, Kingdom Holdings, Seera Holding Group (previously Al Tayyar Group) Zain KSA, Arabian Shield Insurance Company and Fawaz Alhokair Company. He founded and chairs Amwal AlKhaleej based in Riyadh and Amwal Capital Partners based in United Arab Emirates, an asset management business based in Dubai International Financial Center. He also serves as a board member with government-related entities, such as the Real Estate Development Fund. He also served as board member at the Economic Cities Authority. Mr. Alkhudairy earned an MSc in Engineering Administration and a BSc in Civil Engineering from George Washington University.

TBY talks to Ammar Abdulwahid Alkhudairy, Chairman of Saudi National Bank (SNB), about mergers, the state of the Saudi financial sector, and goals for the coming year.

What challenges did you face when doing the merger with Samba Financial Group?

The two primary challenges faced in mergers of this nature are: the length of time it takes to conclude the integration of the two banks and, the disruption to business that occurs during the integration period as the institution becomes inwardly focused. We were able to mitigate both of these challenges. In terms of timing, we were able to conclude our merger I record time. Six months from date of definitive agreement to legal day one, and a mere nine months from legal day one to conclude customer integration. I am also proud to report that we did not forfeit any market share in our retail business during this period. I give credit for this notable achievement to our group CEO, Saeed AlGhamdi and the excellent team he assembled to conclude the integration. The secret of success is a leader with a qualified team with laser sharp focus and remarkable discipline.

How has the success of this merger positioned SNB as the leading player in the financial sector?

Now that the merger and post-merger integration is behind us, our key focus areas are enhancement of service delivery and customer experience, and business growth. The bank already enjoys slightly over 30% market share in Saudi; our aspiration is to now grow our market share organically through further customer acquisition, both in the retail as well as the wholesale segments. On the Capital side, SNB Capital is again already the undisputed market leader, but again our aim is to grow our market share through offering the clients a much more expanded suite of products and services.

What is SNB’s strategy when it comes to digital innovation within the company regarding internal operations, services, and products provided to consumers?

SNB does surveys in Saudi Arabia and globally to find out what traditional banks and digital banks offer their clients in terms of online services and experience, down to how many clicks it takes for the client to go from the first screen to the transfer done. We plan our product evolution rollout according to what we observe and what we gather in terms of data as best global practices. We benchmark our digital service on that. The best methodology is not to think only about what your competitors are doing but leapfrog ahead of them. We look at the world and the services being offered and then try to apply that. We are close to making new releases on our digital platform, which will quickly move us up.

What is SNB’s approach to providing financial assistance to develop the SME sector?

We have a number of programs and a complete division focused on that. There are a number of government programs that support SMEs that we are intensively engaged with. SNB received a few awards over the last 18 months for our proactive approach and for being an effective partner for that segment.

What is SNB’s strategy to increase its 30% share in the Saudi banking sector, and what are your ambitions when it comes to regional development?

SNB aims to continue to grow in the domestic market organically. We are definitely number one in the wholesale banking business whether it is corporate, SME, or treasury functions. We are not number one in retail, though we are focusing on enhancing our market share through tradition and digital client acquisition. The key is to do it through a more intensive engagement without clients and leapfrog in terms of technology. That is why we wanted to complete the integration as quickly as possible.

How does SNB contribute to the agenda of Vision 2030?

SNB is by far the largest financier of all the upcoming projects, like the Red Sea and Qiddiya. SNB is engaged with various government entities that are responsible for carrying out Vision 2030. There are also proactive discussions as the economic ecosystem evolves, and we evaluate how we can evolve and hopefully be a key contributor to that evolution. We want to be ready to offer new products and services to help manifest these aspirations. We not only provide loans, but also engage to spread the word and activate the private sector to participate in exciting developments.

What are your goals, expectations, and priorities for the next six to 12 months?

Our number-one priority is for our client base—whether its super large corporates or a retail client earning USD2,000 a month—for them to feel more important than ever and that we offer more superior services than before. The client is number one. Second, when banks merge globally, it usually takes them between three to five years to recover, whereby the sum of the parts become more valuable than the two entities. We are aspiring to show the world that we can do that in less than a year. SNB wants to show the world that all the synergies and savings have already been processed throughout the system and that the two entities together are stronger than the two individual banks.

What are the main takeaways of this merger from an international perspective?

Given its size, SNB is an important representative of the Kingdom, as it represents 31% of the banking sector and a third of the depositors of Saudi Arabia. We are definitely a proxy of what is happening in this sector. Additionally, SNB had supportive regulators, such as the SAMA and the CMA. A huge part of the population has signed up to launch Saudi Arabia in a different and faster trajectory, led by the Vision of His Royal Highness. Saudi Arabia is one of the fasted evolving countries in the world, SNB is keen to be participant and an enabler of this evolution.

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