The Business Year

Peter England

UAE, ABU DHABI - Finance

Bit By Bit

CEO, The National Bank of Ras Al-Khaimah (RAKBANK)


Peter England became the CEO of RAKBANK on November 1, 2013. Before joining RAKBANK, he spent seven years as the Head of Retail Banking at CIMB Bank Berhad, a subsidiary of CIMB Group and one of the largest banks in ASEAN, where he managed CIMB Bank Malaysia’s business for individual and small enterprise customers and worked on developing a wide range of conventional and Islamic products and services.

TBY talks to Peter England, CEO of The National Bank of Ras Al-Khaimah (RAKBANK), on the bank's return on assets, awards, and ownership.

RAKBANK is ranked first in the UAE by return on assets. To what do you attribute this distinction?

We are tightly focused on retail and small business lending. One of the reasons the bank’s return on assets, as well as net interest margins and gross interest margins, are the highest in the UAE, and very high globally, is that we are predominantly in the unsecured lending business. If you get it right, you have high returns. If you get it wrong, you have low or negative returns. However, RAKBANK has stuck with the formula it has adopted for a long time. Bit by bit, RAKBANK has developed its ideas. It has tried new things, and changed new solutions along the way; however, once it decided to enter into certain lines of business, it stayed with it. We have focused heavily on mobile sales and to a certain extent electronic channels, because we believe that in this day and age it is not really necessary to have hundreds of branches, particularly in a relatively small place like the UAE. Therefore, we prefer to go to customers rather than have them come to us.

RAKBANK won an award in 2014 for its “Click and Collect” online service. How do you plan to continue innovating in the digital segment?

RAKBANK is perceived to be technologically advanced; however, considering the markets I come from, I still believe we have a long way to go. The world is changing quickly, and we need to rethink our whole digital strategy and come back to the market with something powerful and refreshing. There is a great space to do that in the UAE. The UAE market is sophisticated, but in terms of digital banking, it is still at its infancy. Our digital offering is functional and works nicely, but we are looking to offer more of a financial services platform rather than just a pure transactional internet site and to do more in terms of convergence of mobile and internet.

RAKBANK is currently awaiting regulatory approval for a majority stake in Ras Al-Khaimah National Insurance Company (RAKNIC). What value do you expect RAKNIC to add to the bank once approved?

The intention is to work in synergy. RAKNIC is a successful general insurance company and is doing exceptionally well at an operating profit level. It has a full life license, which it isn’t using at this point in time. In the longer term, we see a fantastic opportunity to use RAKNIC for both our general and life offerings. We will have to build the life capability with RAKNIC’s management but I think it is still a fantastic synergy. Even though we don’t have the majority stake yet, we are passing quite a lot of business to RAKNIC. In the past, we would pass customers who wanted insurance for something on to other organizations. There is a great opportunity for business to go both ways through RAKNIC and RAKBANK. RAKNIC is also a large insurer and has a large customer base. It is not a takaful company at the moment, which is something we would also potentially explore down the road if we were able to obtain a takaful license.



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