The Business Year

Banks continue to focus on customer satisfaction and staff development in addition to their efforts on high growth areas such as Islamic banking.

Lloyd Maddock

CEO, Ahlibank

The regulations for Islamic banking came into effect in 2013, when Oman was virtually a new market for Islamic banking. Since then, two entirely Islamic banks have been created and six local banks have opened Islamic windows. It has grown quickly and accounts for 10% of the banking business as a whole in the country. While we find customers willing to borrow Islamically, there is less tendency to deposit Islamically. That is because the “profit rates“ are estimated, which is a constraint for some of the institutional depositors; they prefer to be 100% sure about what their deposited funds will generate. Consequently, the liquidity situation is currently quite competitive in the Islamic banking segment and this is something that we all have to collectively work on. However our experience has been positive, with our Islamic banking division contributing circa 25% of our bottom line last year. Our plans for 2018 will be business as usual. Our track record of double-digit growth in recent years might be tempered slightly; however, we will continue to invest in people, products, and delivery channels. Hopefully, some of the liquidity measures will feed through and support continued economic growth and diversification within Oman.

Sasi Kumar

Acting CEO, Bank Sohar

One of the most important goals when we were setting up operations was to ensure healthy growth and sustainability in Oman’s banking sector. We have accomplished this by transforming ourselves into a financial institution that provides dynamic products and services to our customers. Over the years, Bank Sohar has stood out from the competition because we have adopted a unique approach to banking that combines excellence and innovation with stellar service, product diversity, speed, and technological competence. A decade on, we have experienced exponential growth, whereas no other fledgling bank in the past had survived in a fiercely competitive market without joining forces with another institution. For 2018 we continue to stay focused on our core strength in corporate banking and endeavor to increase our reach in retail banking. We would like to continue our investment in technology so as to improve customer experience and convenience. We will continue to provide our customers in corporate and retail banking the best-in-class products and services. There are also many opportunities in Islamic banking, of which the market has barely scratched the surface.

Abdul Hakeem Omar Al-Ojaili

CEO, Abdul Hakeem Omar Al-Ojaili

BankDhofar’s main strategy is to focus on customer experience. By providing the best banking experience, we will be able to build a growing loyal customer base. It will foster our business as well as ensure a great reputation in the market. With the aim of simplifying processes and speeding up processing time, we are working on the lean operating model for the organization. All these factors contribute to building an excellent customer experience. Additionally, we have been working on strengthening our brand presence, following a comprehensive study of the bank over five years, aiming to be the leading brand in Oman. As a result, BankDhofar’s brand is well recognized and spread all across Oman, including airports, which are Oman’s gateway to the world. On the other hand, stemming from our belief that our employees are ambassadors of our brand, BankDhofar has developed programs and projects that fall within the transformation journey “Together 2020.“ The bank continued to innovate staff learning and development programs across all business functions. Individual and team performance and contributions have resulted in achieving consistent overall performance that has been recognized locally, regionally, and internationally, winning a number of prestigious awards.

Andrew P. Long

CEO, HSBC Bank Oman

In retail the biggest demand is for money—there is rising demand for additional personal debt. We have chosen to not play in the “mass“ space. We do not believe it is sensible when the economy is feeling the input of lower oil prices and people’s jobs are at risk to be loaning them money for 10 years. If our premier clients are interested in borrowing, then we are interested in discussing their needs with them. Credit cards are another focus as is wealth management. The retail banking sector is not that sophisticated but what is interesting in retail is that technology is driving a lot of the products here. We have seen a significant fall in volumes across our own branch counters in the past few years, even though our customer numbers are flat. Customers are just using the branches less. We are looking to redefine what a branch is used for and make our branches more welcoming and retail-like. On the wholesale side, the biggest issue at the moment is liquidity. Some companies are experiencing payment delays for the work that has been done. Customers need liquidity and to manage their cash flows better, for which we can offer a fantastic cash management program for them. It has been voted the top cash management platform in the country for each of the last five years.

Khalid Al-Kayed

CEO, Bank Nizwa

We came to Oman as a fully fledged Islamic bank since our strategy was based largely on the fact that Islamic banking was well developed in the region. We developed our niche by being the most sharia-compliant bank and built our brand and portfolio based on this strength. Our sharia board members are all well-known and highly respected names in the business. After we established ourselves as the first sharia-compliant bank, we decided to bring this option to the masses and have been expanding ever since. This is a core strategy that has allowed us to position ourselves effectively. We also approached the government in an effort to work with it because the government of Oman plays a vital role in the economy. We also directed our attention to pension funds as well as corporate clients. We work with local SMEs and try to provide sharia-compliant products for all business people in the country. Additionally, we tried to work as quickly as possible in terms of digitizing channels and interfaces for interacting with our bank. We were able to implement mobile and internet banking early on, allowing us to effectively compete with more traditional banks, adding substantial value to our position.



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