Sep 26 - Oct 2, 20

Banks are playing an important role in the economic development of the country. KASB Bank is emerging fast as one of the leading banks in the country, as it is serving through 104 branches in 42 cities of Pakistan, offering unique and innovative financial solutions with large portfolios of investment, corporate and consumer banking. KASB Bank is catering to banking needs of all segments of the society with focus on customers' satisfaction through an efficient team.

Salman Raza is KASB Bank's Regional Head Lahore Central Branch Banking. He is a leading banker and efficiently leading his team with commitment and hard work.

In an interview with Pakistan and Gulf Economist (PAGE), he said the KASB Bank has been assigned medium to long term entity rating by PACRA of A- (Single A minus ) and short term rating of A2 (Single A Two). The bank's aim is to assist its customers in fulfilling their banking needs of today and realizing ambitions for tomorrow, by offering a comprehensive range of financial services, while ensuring service excellence.

"We provide our customers access to a broader range of funding sources, made possible by the group's strong network of local and international relationships," he said, adding: "We plan to extend our branch network with increase in ATMs. KASB Bank's future is bright and promising."

Mr. Raza said his bank is aggressively looking for growth opportunities in Pakistan, which is evident from the expansion of its branch network.

Giving a detailed overview of the bank's operations, he also shared future expansion plans of the bank. He said that the bank is progressing and its products are widely accepted by customers. The bank is looking to open more branches and for opportunities to expand other operations too.

According to him, the bank has generated more private foreign inflows into Pakistan than anyone has and continues to highlight investment opportunities to international corporations and global private equity/hedge funds.

Mr. Raza said KASB Bank's unwavering focus on clients lies at the foundation of our success as our team led by Munir Saleem who relentlessly devotes himself to providing each client with the most optimizing solutions.

"The diverse backgrounds of our team members allow us to formulate unique business opportunities with each team member bringing with them a distinctive skill set," he said.

Terming non-performing loans (NPLs) as a major challenge for the banking sector, he said NPLs posted a phenomenal surge posing new challenges and credit risks to the growing banking industry.

Specifically, banks experienced a relatively slower growth in NPLs during CY10, compared with 24.2 percent in CY09 and 64.8 percent in CY08. On a positive note, 77.6 percent of incremental NPLs during Q4 were confined to a handful of banks, with some banks even enjoying year on year decline, he added.

Mr. Raza said KASB Bank is playing leading role in financing development project, facilitating trade activities, creating climate for capital formation, helping SBP in achieving monetary policies, assisting in the development, and making capital available for investment and profit-sharing scheme.

He said the bank has strengthened its position as the leading investment bank in Pakistan, with its powerful brand name remaining synonymous with industry expertise. "Our ability to provide our clients with customized financial solutions, furnishing their individual business needs, has strengthened us in an increasingly competitive market," he said

He said: žOur corporate banking unit operates as a strategic partner for corporate entities. Corporate banking unit's mission is to serve all corporate needs by adding efficiencies and values through personalized relationship management. A team of experienced and skilled professionals who have the requisite understanding and technical ability to deliver towards varied business needs manages the business unit.

We understand the expectations of our corporate customers and offer tailor-made products and services to meet their demands. The core strategy is to focus on customer's needs and meet their perceived value by delivering quality services in quick turnaround times."

He said: "KASB Bank has endeavored to tap the potential of SME segment with its dedicated SME banking segment. The segment strives to help you capitalize on the right opportunities for your business. The wide range of specifically designed assets and liability products equips you with the most powerful tools to transform your business opportunities into profitable ventures. Our ultimate goal is to provide optimum level of financing to fuel the growth of your business."

He further said the future of banking industry in Pakistan was critically dependent on the strength and performance of the economy in which SME sector attained a crucial role in terms of its growth potential and greater employment opportunities. "Most particularly and especially when you consider that almost 99 per cent of all business establishments are services, providing employment to 77 per cent of the non-farm workforce contributing 30 per cent to the GDP, no one can deny a key role of this sector in overall economy," he said.

He was of the view that prevailing profitable risk-free situation does not move banks to take pain for the development of SMEs despite the fact that these are essential for long-term growth of economy as well as banks. He added that the importance of this sector was widely acknowledged all over the world in view of its success in sustaining high growth in countries like Korea, Taiwan, China, Vietnam, and Thailand.

He stressed the need for developing innovative products for SMEs. He said the Chinese development experience demonstrates how each enterprise can grow at a faster pace by basing focus on its own competency and subcontracting other work.