There is no short cut to success; the greatest
security in business lies in ones ability to deliver quality to customers
By SHABBIR H.KAZMI
Sep 13 - 19, 1999
United Bank Limited (UBL) has resurfaced as a bank with vision. The man
behind this turnaround is Zubyr Soomro, the Chairman and President of the Bank. Having
thorough know-how and experience of banking sector, Zubyr has emerged as an individual,
who is dedicated and determined to face challenges.
Success of a leader, according to Soomro, is a combination of factors
like education, expertise, experience, teamwork and strategic planning. He is the chief
proponent of team spirit in the organization. His main strength lies in being a motivator
and leading his team to accomplishment of ideas. He believes that there is no short cut to
success and that the greatest security in business lies in ones ability to deliver
quality to customers at the best value for money.
Zubyr distills four principles that have driven him to this level of
achievement. These are: a powerfulness of mission; absolute focus on customers and
products; urgency for high speed innovations; and a self-motivated workforce.
The vision of UBL is built at some basic themes which reflect inherent
strengths of network, access, a wide and diversified customer base and a service-oriented
culture. These themes have been developed around the following values:
* To be a reliable low cost provider of basic banking services
* To ensure that credit circulates freely and efficiently across the
* To reward and develop the staff on merit
* To enforce and maintain efficient systems and stringent controls
* To be seen as responsible and credible by regulators
* To deliver a stream of new products for both consumers and corporate
* To be aggressive and professional in our pursuit
These are ambitious values and higher goals to build, maintain and
achieve and it is a long way to go even though a considerable progress has been made.
UBL managed to post an operating profit, before provisions, of Rs 133
million for 1998 while posted an operating loss of Rs 3.8 billion for 1997. The problems
the Bank faced in the past, are gradually and consistently overcome. UBL made provisions
amounting to Rs 4.2 billion and was able to recognize tax credits for prior year losses.
The net equity of the Bank improved from a negative of Rs. 18.5 billion to Rs 8.1 billion.
This improved the capital ratio to 10 per cent above the international level of 8
UBLs revenues grew by 53 per cent from Rs 7.6 billion in 1997 to
Rs 11.6 billion for 1998. This reflects not only the impact of the capital injection by
the State Bank of Pakistan but also across the board improvements achieved by
corporate banking unit, revamped treasury operations and recovery campaign. The Bank
managed to improve interest spreads and commission income. Against this, operating and
personnel costs declined by Rs 588 million. This was achieved through rationalization of
human resource, branch network and other operating expenses. The intermediation cost also
came down to 3.79 per cent in 1998 against a target of 4 per cent for the years and an
actual of 4.7 per cent in 1997.
Efforts are being made to rationalize branch network by closing
non-profitable branches and merger of close proximity branches to optimize staff and
customer service standards. The number of unprofitable branches has come down from 483 to
206 including closure of 203 branches. The Bank plans to further close the remaining
Staff strength and morale continues to be the major focus. The approach
emphasizes Pay for Performance, through awards and incentives. This has rendered
positive results. Through service excellence the management wants to ensure a transparent
and merit based approach for promotion and increase in salary. But management realizes
that there is a clear compensation gap to be addressed in 1999. Along with this, heavy
investment was made for imparting training to the existing staff.
UBL aims at becoming the preferred rupee bank and build skill and
technology base to support such a business. The Bank has installed a new software, which
has improved the turnaround time of inward and outward remittances. Every thing put
together, UBL is well placed for a major turnaround in 1999.
Soomro expresses deep appreciation for the valuable support and
guidance provided by the Board of Directors. Without their active involvement such
progress was not possible. He also acknowledges continued support by the central bank and
Ministry of Finance.B