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Cover Story
Success is a combination of expertise, team- work and strategic planning, says Soomro


   Shaukat Mirza - Former Chief
    Executive, Engro Chemical
    Mian Mohammed Latif -
     Chief Executive, Chenab Group.
    Alireza - MD, Shabbir Tiles.
    Ahmed Dawood -
     Chairman Dawood Group.
    Fazle Hassan -
     Director,  (IBA) Karachi.
    Zubyr Soomro - President, 
    Masood Hashmi -
     Deputy Managing Director,
     Orient McCann-Erickson.  .

There is no short cut to success; the greatest security in business lies in one’s ability to deliver quality to customers

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 one’s 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 system

* 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 clients

* 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 per cent.

UBL’s 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 unprofitable branches.

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