With Navibank rebranding to National Bank (NCB), General Director Tran Anh shared her thoughts with VnEconomy at the beginning of Lunar New Year.
Can you tell us about the challenges facing a small bank during the banking sector reform process?
Managing bank is a difficult task, especially during a sector restructuring process and less than favorable business context.
Under the restructuring requirements we must start again. Navibank had many weaknesses so we had to restructure our operations, human resources, and infrastructure, standardize our business activities, and improve our financial situation towards more sustainable and efficient development. It’s a process full of internal difficulties.
With the macro economy having suffered for many years our restructuring plan faced even more difficulties and challenges.
What changes has the bank made to adapt to the less favorable business environment in the banking sector?
After more than 18 months of restructuring our business activities have gradually stabilized and are starting to exhibit efficiency.
Our brand identity system has changed, to National Bank (NCB), as the Navibank name was not strong. We have also attracted many quality personnel and built new strategies to focus on retail and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in specific sectors, with suitable product offerings.
Changing our brand identity has been accompanied by better service quality. We have held more than 700 hours of professional training for our staff, applied quality standard systems, improved our customer services, and conducted checks and inspection over our entire service system.
With these changes our customer numbers have grown, as evidenced by the amount of deposits made over the closing months of 2014. Through the implementation of policies from the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) we introduced a preferential credit package and attracted new customers, especially SMEs in agriculture.
NCB recently announced a VND75 billion ($3.57 million) profit, which seems at odds with its total capital and equity but may be evidence of greater transparency than previously, with supervision from the SBV. How would you comment on that statement?
Regarding our bad debt ratio, last year we tried to sell VND700 billion ($33.33 million) in debt to the Vietnam Asset Management Company (VAMC). VAMC agreed to buy VND300 billion ($14.28 million). One of our targets is to focus on handling bad debts.
The tough economic circumstances are gradually improving, there appears to better signs in the real estate market, the macro economy is getting better, and the business sector is recovering and debts should be able to be repaid.
Can you tell us more about what NCB is doing?
I like to talk about 2015 with three words: internal capacity - effort - belief.
Internal capacity which means that NCB has been rated as having potential, holds many advantages in its development, and its staff, shareholders and the Board are committed to supporting reform.
Effort is how NCB has conducted its restructuring, fought against stagnation, stabilized its banking operations and strengthened compliance standards, making it ready for opportunities.
Belief is something we have always had despite the difficulties. We believe that every effort brings results. And we believe in the policies of the government and the SBV to create a healthy financial system.
What are NCB’s goals this year?
We are a small bank but we have strong leaders and personnel who are looking in the same direction. Our strategy is clearly defined, focusing on specific segments and markets and identifying new products and services.
This year we target VND300 billion ($14.28 million) in profit. We continually hold meetings with branches and units to discuss how they are developing. We see our results improving every month.