Client Interview:

By: Lim Kuo Siong and Choong Wai Hong
September 2016



Mr Lim Kuo Siong is the Chief Information Officer for Maybank Singapore. Prior to joining Maybank in 1997, he worked for a major local bank and two international European banks. Over the past 20 years, he has covered back-office and systems operations related to consumer banking, corporate banking,
B2B/B2C commerce, payment, securities and custody operations, private banking and treasury businesses.

He has IT and business operations experiences in Asia, Europe and US, with exposures to different working styles and companies cultures, covering joint-venture company and regional partner offices.

About Maybank

Maybank is among Asia’s leading banking groups and South East Asia’s fourth largest bank by assets. The Maybank Group has an international network of 2,400 offices in 20 countries, with over 46,000 employees serving more than 22 million customers worldwide.

Maybank Singapore is one of the Group’s largest overseas operations. As of December 2015, Maybank’s total assets in Singapore were S$61 billion. With strategically located branches island-wide and 1,800 employees, Maybank is well-positioned to provide highly personalised services and locally-oriented solutions that will deliver more value to customers.

Q: What are your bank’s core beliefs and value propositions?
Could you throw some light on the operational efficiencies that Maybank has achieved?

Wai Hong

Maybank has a vision of humanising financial services and firmly believe in the power of speed and relationships to guide our strategies. Our aim is to be the most responsive to customers’ needs, servicing them quickly, while recognising that the customer is not just a collection of products, but a person who faces different challenges as they get older. We consider the entire banking relationship based on these two principles in order to meet customer expectations and deliver the best possible service for them.

Q: Please describe the success experienced by Maybank?

Wai Hong

Maybank is strong in Asia, in fact we are in ten countries in Southeast Asia and we have been in Singapore for the past 55 years. We have always believed the bank branch is the centre of the community in financial services and should handle all types of customers, whether they be corporate, commercial or retail. We witnessed strong growth over our 55 years here, and rapid growth in the last 2-3 years. This has been aided by a significant expansion in the deposit and loan market.



Mr Choong is the Head of Community Financial Services in Singapore and is responsible for the country’s retail banking, branch distribution and SME business. Mr Choong has more than 19 years of experience in the financial services industry. Prior to Maybank, he served at an international bank across Malaysia and later Singapore, where he helmed a diverse range of divisions, including Strategic Projects, Distribution Management, Wealth Management, and Retail Banking Product over a span of 8 years.

Q: What are Maybank’s key strategic initiatives and goals, both long-term and short-term?

Wai Hong

We have always believed in the importance of long-term objectives. Singapore is a very important market for financial services, at the heart of the Asian community, and keeping good relations there is essential. Shorter term we are looking at the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as commercial financial services (CFS). In addition, we are also looking at how we can better introduce certain propositions to wealth management and towards the younger demographic. We have launched new propositions in the last six months to target these segments.

Q: What were your main challenges when trying to achieve these goals?

Wai Hong

Customers are quite savvy and their needs are evolving very quickly. An ability to respond to customer expectations in a way that meets their requirements is definitely a vital area to focus on. We need to know what they want and how to bring it to them quickly. Most banking systems and infrastructures take too long to build. So, our main challenge is to be effective in bringing new solutions to the customers.

KS Lim
In terms of technology, banks face a challenge to sustain the cost to serve. It is key for us to be able to serve each customer segment as efficient as possible and to do this we mainly look at matching compression. From Maybank’s point of view, we also believe that speed and relationships will be of significant importance for continued growth.

Q: How is customer behaviour changing?

KS Lim

In digital banking, customers expect an accessible banking experience across all channels. We need to offer high-quality services that meet customer demands, as a wide array of offers is easily accessible from competitors, and one can switch service providers with just a few clicks. We need to map the customer journey better to find out what is important to them, and how to serve them profitably.

Emerging FinTech companies provide competition in meeting customer demands as they focus on solving a particular customer issue. For example, offering one service at the best price, rather than a bundle offer, can be a good match for some customers. Customers who want a complete service offering will still be able to come to the bank and seek advice.

Q: What are some of the challenges (internal – people, systems and external -technology, regulatory, industry) you face as a CIO?

KS Lim

A major challenge we face is in acquiring talented professionals, especially finding the right skill set in cyber security and digital banking. Being located in the financial hub of Singapore, there is a big pool of talented staff, but it can be hard to retain them.

Furthermore, merger and acquisition (M&A) activities with large multinational banking corporations (MNC) occur more frequently than ever before. This impacts the banking market because a M&A can change pricing, support contracts and product road maps for businesses and customers alike.

Q: How much of the investment in new technology and staff is driven by regulatory requirements?

KS Lim

Regulatory effects on investments may increase for digital banking, as expectations on the security of data rise and organisations recognise the importance of maintaining trust and a good reputation. From a consumer perspective, they will always demand more value for the money they put in, for example a reduction in fees and charges. This means profit margins will be compressed unless banks think of innovative ways to grow their channels.

Q: There are plenty of new entrants/players, smaller disruptors and challenger banks changing the banking scene in the market these days – what do you think banks should do to stay ahead of the game?

KS Lim

One disruptor is certainly FinTech companies, and banks can benefit from collaborating with some of them. More mature ones, such as SunTec, have the domain expertise and an understanding of what regional banks like us require. They come with a solution as well as inventive processes. SunTec for example, helped us to create product bundles for different markets across the region. This type of FinTech is the most helpful to banks, as they can offer capabilities which provide more secure returns on investment and improve customer satisfaction.

Not all FinTech companies are the same, and many younger ones come into the market with a solution, looking for a problem. These are the ones that have technology, but insufficient domain expertise and understanding of where it can be applied, which is less helpful for banks.

Q: In the ever-changing and fast-paced banking industry, how has Maybank taken advantage of these changes?

Wai Hong

In the last ten years, quite a few things have happened. First, the consumers are getting a lot more savvy. They know what they want, they like being given choices and they do a lot of research before deciding on a particular option. Second, the rise of internet and mobile banking changed how banks respond to customer needs.

Q: How is SunTec helping you overcome these challenges? What is the growth that you have seen with SunTec in the last 6 months?

Wai Hong

Since the start of our partnership with SunTec over a year ago, its solutions has given us an agility in crafting specific product bundles for customers, as well as bringing new capabilities to market. For example, we brought together premium wealth and children’s products into two bundles, which we then deployed to the market in less than six months. For children, we launched a young family bundle Youngstarz. SunTec gave us an edge to address capabilities a lot faster than previously, and we went to market in less than two months, instead of a year which would not have happened without SunTec’s help. For the premium wealth segment, we launched the total relationship bundle. Here the focus was on the relationship, recognising the range of products in a single account a customer has with the bank and finding ways to reward and bring extra value to these relationships.

KS Lim
Maybank’s resolve to provide great service to its customers, both in speed and relationship, is aided by SunTec’s technology. Their architectural solutions allow us to keep customers happy and our company progressing, by giving customers better service and returns on purchases. When bundling, we will have a loss leader in some of the products, and some that generate a higher return. In terms of speed, you need certain capabilities to support this kind of bundling, or else turnaround time the to customer will be affected. This is why our partnership with SunTec is strategic. Furthermore, it enables us to address our need for regionalisation capabilities. Not all capabilities and platforms have been standardised yet for every country, and with SunTec’s solution we can do bundling, which can be plugged into each of our regional markets.

Q: What is the main benefit of SunTec’s Xelerate product suite in the marketplace?

Wai Hong

Speed. It has been a central point for enabling us to put a layer of capability on top of our existing core system, and bring solutions to the market faster. It also gives us an ability to look across the different accounts the customer has with us and craft a single proposition that adds true value to the customer relationship.

Q: Maybank has rolled out the Family Plus in the Singapore and Malaysia market. How was the journey and what has been your experience so far?

Wai Hong

We launched Family Plus in Singapore last year, whereas Malaysia is in the midst of implementation. Focus has been quite intense, and as a result, we’ve seen the implementation complete four times faster than our normal rate of six months instead of two years. With this bundle, we promise better yields to the children’s accounts if the parent do banking with us, whether through credit cards or savings. As a result, we’ve seen an increase in the deposit balances for both the children’s and parents’ segments of our business.

Q: How do you see SunTec fitting into similar innovative initiatives across other Maybank geographies in the future?

Wai Hong
SunTec brings with it a global capability, they have proven implementation in many countries. With SunTec, we would like to build best practice capabilities and roll out a few bundles and propositions we have in Maybank across all our geographies. Some of these capabilities appeal to the same segments within the market, whether it’s the family, wealth management or day-to-day banking segment of our customers.