27 April 2014

Uganda: New Orient Bank Boss Confident

Bernard Magulu is Orient Bank's new Executive Director. He replaces Maxwell Ibeanusi who has been the Bank's MD since 2009. Magulu is an astute and consummate banker, a seasoned chartered accountant and risk management expert.

Besides being a forensic accountant, Magulu is also a Corporate Regeneration Practitioner. Before taking the helm at Orient Bank, he was the Director Finance and Corporate Support. Recently East African Business Week's Emma Onyango caught up with him, below are the excerpts;

Question: What is first on your agenda as the new Managing Director of Orient Bank Limited?

Answer: Orient Bank Limited as an institution has been in existence for over 20 years. Last year, we celebrated 20 years of banking excellence. As a bank, business consolidation and future positioning is the main focus.

Stake holder and customer satisfaction are also being redirected to the strategic aspiration of championing e-banking, product outreach, as part of a wider agenda of promoting a cashless society.

Remaining competitive and relevant in the business is at the helm of our continuous agenda of providing products that meet a wide array of our existing and new customer profile.

For many business people, high lending rates remain a big issue, what are your thoughts on this?

This is a liberalized economy where demand and supply determine market dynamics. In the banking sector, pricing for products is conspicuously displayed and gazetted at banking premises and in the print media.

This approach creates an opportunity for customers to get information on rates applicable on certain products enabling them to make informed decisions.

Likewise, the cost of operations in banking is a function of direct and indirect costs. These have an underpinning on interest rates that are tagged to the different products in line with the risk premium.

As a bank we shall continue to bench mark on the product offering and create an option for customers as they make their decisions.

Does Orient Bank have any special schemes for small business in relation to loans?

Orient Bank is a bank for all. Our customer catchment areas cut across and, yes SMES are part of the reason we exist.

In terms of latest financial results how well is Orient Bank doing?

Orient is doing great. The future of an institution is a function of outward looking strategic aspirations with a mix of historical contributions by our stakeholders and customers.

They are at the forefront of this. During the financial year 2013, the economic fundamentals had swings in several directions and the ripple effects of this impacted the economy and the banking industry of which the Orient is part.

What about provision for bad loans is the ratio within manageable limits?

Bad loans have a ripple effect on the economic performance and this subsequently impacts on the customer's commitment to meet their obligations.

This has mainly been due to delayed payments for structured contracts, where they have supplied or offered services.

The approach Orient Bank has taken to improve this is; work with the borrowers to ensure payment schedules are adhered to.

We have taken firm foreclosure proceeding in some selected instances on a case by case basis like other industry players , Restructuring with tangible cash flows has been an option.

Have there been any changes in the shareholding of the bank, is Keystone (Nigeria) still the main shareholders?

There have been no changes.

At the end of 2011, Orient was the 11th largest bank in Uganda, where do rank today?

Ranking is an exercise done after all the banks have posted their financials. Information is still being collated in that aspect. As soon as the exercise is completed, as a statutory requirement, we will be in position to benchmark rankings within the industry, peers and borders.

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