Vietnam’s deeper integration into the world economy means more competition in the banking sector. Nguyen Le Quoc Anh, deputy CEO of Techcombank, talked to VIR’s Hong Anh about how improving service is the only way for Vietnamese banks to compete and how Techcombank in particular is putting customers first.


Vietnam’s economy grew slower than expected in the first half of 2016. How did this affect the operation of companies and banks in Vietnam?

The correlation between macro-economic conditions and the performance of the banking sector is very clear. When our GDP rises, the banking sector sees high growth and vice versa.
In the first quarter of 2016 growth was not as high as the same period last year, reaching just 5.5 per cent compared to 6.3 per cent last year, consequently the banking sector experienced slower growth than expected. Still, the economy is generally stable, foreign direct investment showed strong growth and manufacturing was solid. Economic stability bolsters the sustainability of the financial and banking sector. There was also an improvement in overall system liquidity, altogether either maintain or lowered the ratio of bad debt.
What about the operation of Techcombank during the last six months?
As I mentioned above, although the banking sector had slightly lower growth compared to the corresponding period last year, generally development was steady. As for Techcombank, we exceeded our six-month plan in both profits and revenue, with unaudited profit before tax estimated at more than VND1.5 trillion ($67 million), up over 50 per cent compared to the same period last year. 
So far this year Techcombank has received many international awards, including those awarded once every 10 years, such as the Best Bank in Vietnam Award by Finance Asia and Alpha Southeast. We are proud of the recognition. However, the awards are only milestones in our development, not our objective. Techcombank’s ultimate aim has always been to best serve our customers. The awards from reputable organisations show that we are on the right track and inspire us on our journey.
With Vietnam signing many trade pacts, investment into the country has been increasing. Subsequently, many banks from other countries have set foot in Vietnam or have been expanding their presence to grab all these new business opportunities. In this context, how do Vietnamese banks compete?
Vietnam is integrating into the ASEAN Economic Community and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In the next two or three years, our competitors will not only be local banks but also international banks such as MayBank, Bank of America, HSBC and Standard Charter Bank.
Joint stock commercial banks in Vietnam need to be more proactive in overcoming the challenges of international economic integration. We are left with no choice but to improve now. If we don’t actively change today, we won’t have any chance in the next two or three years.
Integration also means more risks and uncertainties. For example, Brexit, and how governments and businesses have been reacting to it, is going to affect banks’ operations. Commercial banks like Techcombank must actively build a solid organizational and technology foundations and team of outstanding professionals in order to deal with these uncertainties.
In the specific case of Techcombank, how are you preparing to face the competition?
The most important thing we have done recently is to focus on people development. We worked on flexible and open to change mind-set of each staff member. We want to focus first and foremost on service and enabling customer success. How can we best understand our customers and help them to achieve their financial goals? The responsibility of each employee is to understand what the customer needs and proactively provide solutions.
This change in mindset does not happen overnight, this requires huge amount of all levels of effort from the organization management from upper to front line staff. Starting from last November, we have conducted many programs, communicate this message to all 7,500 Techcomers.

(Vietnam Investment Review)