For CSB’s new CEO, it’s about finding one’s niche and servicing it well

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Andres Narvasa Jr.

THE Citystate Savings Bank (CSB) marks its 17th anniversary this year with several strategic moves that are seen to bring it closer to its goal of being the top thrift bank in the country. These include not only system upgrades and new branches, but also a new leader at its helm: Andres Narvasa Jr.—an international banker, private financial advisor and now the bank’s CEO.

The bank recently completed its systems upgrade with the installation of the Finacle core-banking software package that enables banks to provide a convenient and unified banking experience to customers. It also opened two new branches in Urdaneta, Pangasinan, and Batangas City, the 27th and 28th branches, respectively. Two more branches are set to open this year in Puerto Princesa City and Santa Rosa City in Laguna.

Narvasa, however, feels there is still so much more to do, now that the banking industry is evolving more than ever, but some of the problems remain, such as the large part of the population being unbanked. He says this is mainly because most Filipinos are hesitant to go to the banks, where such formalities, documentation and interaction are required.

“The key to reaching the unbanked is through technology—mobile banking. I believe that is the future of banking,” he explains. “To a country where its population is 100 million, there is still a lot of area for growth and profits. It is a matter of strategy, finding one’s niche and servicing it well.”

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Narvasa says CSB, being a thrift bank, has found its niche in the middle-class society and is only geared even more to service it.  As the new leader, he intends to create a brand that will focus on “taking care” of its clients.

He explains that the bank—the financial unit of the Ambassador Antonio L. Cabangon Chua Group of Companies, which can now be considered a conglomerate due to its engagement in insurance, preneed, health care and memorial parks, among others—plays an essential role in reaching out to its market.

Through these services, Narvasa says the bank can now offer products that, aside from the traditional ones, can take care of its clients at a very young age up to their advanced years. He cites health-care products that can provide them with hospitalization and medical care, including giving birth; educational, medical and insurance policies for their children and elderly; and even burial, cremation and inurnment services.

For happier occasions, Narvasa says the group also has hotels for special events such as birthdays, baptisms and weddings. “Even better, we will be able to help them with the financial preparations in planning for such events. We can even lend them the money!”

“Of course, since all of these require some kind of payment, the bank can assist them in making everything easy for them,” he says. “We treat every client of Citystate Savings Bank as family, and being a member of the family, it is in our nature that we take care of every member by providing them with all these services.”

As for the bank’s business activities, Narvasa says the bank shall focus on retail lending, especially in the countryside, developing new banking products catering to overseas Filipino workers and retail clients, and investing in technology to provide more efficient and quicker banking services. Likewise, it will also focus on developing its cross-selling activities, opening more branches outside of Metro Manila, and continuing to develop its people to make them the friendliest bankers in town.

Asean integration 2015 and the banking industry

THE target year of the Asean integration is fast approaching, but there are still more questions than answers about its dynamics. The country is, nevertheless, preparing for it, including the banking industry.

Narvasa, an Ateneo de Manila University graduate of Economics and holder of units for the degree of Master of Business Administation, believes in the concept of the integration; but he feels the country has a lot of aspects to improve on to be ready and reap its benefits.

“Free flow of goods can either mean those with money will become bigger and the smaller ones will be eased out. Our business managers must be able to provide opportunities and protection for all players,” he says.

He also explains that in any endeavor, local knowledge of the business landscape must be on hand. “Those with funds to invest will look for reliable and reputable local partners,” he says. “Thus, one’s track record, competency, integrity, commitment and education are traits they will be looking for. In this area, we are ready.”

Narvasa also sees the agricultural sector as the area that will benefit most from the integration, citing the country’s strength in terms of the land, the workers and the knowledge. “What we need are the capital and the discipline to focus and continue improving this area.”

Similarly, he believes the banks with a great portfolio and knowledge of local areas will benefit from the integration. With capital easily available, investment in information-technology infrastructure and devices would be available. He says this would enable the banks then to serve the unbanked.

However, he sees infrastructure as something that the country has to greatly improve on. “Trade means continuous movement of consumer goods quickly, efficiently and with the least cost. The means or channel of moving these goods are almost inferior in our country when compared to others, whether it be through sea, air or land. This is, and will be, our handicap.”

Trusted expertise in banking

THE son and namesake of the late Chief Justice Andres R. Narvasa, the newly appointed CEO had worked as a senior treasury executive in the different financial centers such as Singapore, London, Chicago and New York for several years.

His deep understanding of treasury products, trading and funding mechanisms in the different parts of the world found him shuttling around Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the United States. As a senior bank executive based in New York, he was also involved in corporate rehabilitation and restructuring activities.

In 2000 Narvasa organized his own advisory firm, the AYN Resource Management Group, which provides business, legal and investment advisory to a list of local and foreign clients. As its president and CEO, he oversees a division that provides financial advisory services for local government units in raising funds for their local priority projects either through bank credit facilities or the floating of municipal bonds. He also provides technical and legal advice in structuring public-private partnership agreements.

His expertise and area of concentration lies, however, on the rehabilitation and strategic planning for ailing companies.

Morever, Narvasa has been an independent director of the CSB since 2007, having been chairman and member of the different committees such as the Audit, Trust, Corporate Governance, and Nomination, Compensation and Remuneration committees. It was this year that he was asked to join the management of the bank as its CEO.

He also was involved in basketball, as he played for the Ateneo varsity teams during his high-school and college days. He also had the opportunity to coach in the Philippine Basketball Association.