Creating value through innovation
Product innovation, highest profitability per employee, lowest NPL, state-of-the-art IT solutions, and excellence in service proposition have made Eastern Bank Limited the most valuable financial brand in Bangladesh
“We value our customers and our marketing concept revolves around a customer-centered ‘sense and response’ philosophy. The job is not to find the right customers for our products, but to find the right products for our customers. For us service excellence is not just customer satisfaction, but customer delight,” says Ali Reza Iftekhar, Managing Director and CEO, on the brand promise of Eastern Bank Limited (EBL).
Ali Reza Iftekhar assumed office of the CEO of EBL at 46, the youngest to achieve the feat in the Bangladeshi corporation. A visionary banker and a dynamic leader, he transformed EBL in the space of three years (2007-09), from a BDT 42.58 billion ($518 million) to a BDT 82.49 billion company.
“The success of EBL lies in its ‘customer first policy’ and the ethos of ‘passion to perform’,” says Mr. Iftekhar and elaborates, “We are precise, confident, and innovative. The trust people place in us is based on our passion to perform. We understand issues in depth. This is why we keep things simple and clear. Our brand proposition defines the way we do business. We at EBL believe in creating lasting value for our clientele, shareholders, and employees, and above all for the community we operate in. Our purpose is to sustain and ensure growth by simply making profit for people and not over them.”
Established in 1992, EBL has always been a forerunner in product and service innovation. Especially in the past three years, the Bank introduced 21 new-to-Bangladesh financial products and services. Tech savvy Mr. Iftekhar says, “We are living in a world that is fast changing. Everyday, changes are occurring in the marketplace. The pace of change is so rapid that the ability to change has now become a competitive advantage. EBL has not only kept its pace with time, but remained a leader in introducing new technology in the financial sector of the country.”
He adds with aplomb: “We are first in many areas. We are the first bank in Bangladesh to go online in our effort to go green; first to introduce Internet banking, first to introduce VISA Platinum and Signature, first to offer priority banking proposition, first to introduce world renowned core banking solutions UBS. One can practically go on and on with the list of our innovative banking services and products.”
Mr. Iftekhar is a dreamer, humanitarian, music lover and an art connoisseur. During his tenure as Managing Director and CEO, EBL has witnessed great initiatives taken in the fields of art and culture, sports and education. In human capital management EBL has experienced innovative moves from the man at the helm of affairs. He has initiated performance culture in the bank by inspiring people to perform. He believes in branding ‘ourselves’ and has adopted an employee first policy for the bank and also promoted the culture of relying on people’s skill set. He is a firm believer of the concept ‘value creates value’. For him employees are the best brand. A great performer himself, his brand mission is ‘winning for today is building for tomorrow’.
While talking about sustainable banking Mr. Iftekhar says, “EBL’s firm commitment to sustainable business is reflected in its efforts in Green Banking initiatives.”
He informs that, “EBL has recently launched a product named ‘Nobodoy’, which is designed to finance and promote environment-friendly economic activities. A number of poultry farms in Cox’s Bazar have been lent to produce biogas and electricity from the waste. Of the other new green initiatives, EBL has planned to finance a village to set up solar panel in 2012.”
EBL is the first bank in Bangladesh to offer a Sustainable Energy Finance loan product with assistance from the South Asia Enterprise Development Facility, managed by IFC in partnership with the U.K. Department for International Development and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, to help companies implement energy-saving measures and boosting the competitiveness of private enterprises. He adds, “We aim to finance $20 million in sustainable energy finance projects in the next five years, and avoid 200,000 tons of carbon emission in the process.”
An optimist at heart he concludes in an upbeat mood, “We are optimistic about the future. Throughout our 20-year history, our belief in responsible leadership, our dedication to our customers and our fortress balance sheet has carried us through the toughest challenges. These are the core values we maintain day after day.”