STANDARD CHARTERED BANK

Jordan 2019 | FINANCE | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Muhannad Mukahall, CEO Jordan & Country Head of Commercial Banking Jordan Standard Chartered Bank, on wealth management, digitization, and moving into Africa.

Would you give us a brief overview of Standard Chartered's evolution in Jordan, its commitment to the country, and the bank's current direction?

Standard Chartered was the first bank to launch operations in Jordan through its acquisition of ANZ Grindlays Bank in 2000 and their earlier acquisition of the Ottoman Bank whose operations started in 1925. Our heritage and values are expressed in our brand promise – Here for good. With more than 86,000 employees and a presence in 60 markets, our network serves customers in close to 150 markets worldwide. We're listed on the London and Hong Kong Stock Exchanges as well as the Bombay and National Stock Exchanges in India. In Jordan, we have third-generation clients, which show how we have built trust and long-term relationships. For us, it is not just about providing clients with the normal banking service; as an international bank, we focus on building long-term relationships where we can add value for clients and share our international experience. The bank was chosen as the Best Foreign Bank and Best Foreign Investment Bank in Jordan by EMEA Finance magazine in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2018. More recently, in 2018 the bank was chosen as the Best Sub-Custodian Bank by Global Finance magazine. Over the years, Standard Chartered has built a solid relationship with the Private and the Government sectors. We believe that there is room for us to add value for our clients. The bank's sustainability agenda is designed to impact the markets where we operate through being a force that promotes sustainable lending policies, operates as a responsible company, and invests in the communities we operate in. The bank's staff supports our local communities by volunteering their time and skills. Our volunteering peaks during the holy month of Ramadan with Tikyet Um Ali to serve Iftar meals to underprivileged families. “Seeing is Believing" is our global program in which we help in eradicating avoidable blindness. Last year, we have launched a locally developed project to screen 30,000 students in Jordan. In cooperation with the National Woman's Health Care Center, we have focused on providing screening for amblyopia and colorblindness, examining referred students with amblyopia and other diseases to doctors and specialists, providing eyeglasses to students and following up on them after six months, and determining treatment for each case and transferring them to the nearest hospital if needed. GOAL is the bank's global program that uses sport and life skills to transform the lives of adolescent girls. It was launched in Jordan on January 2011. Now the program has reached more than 15,000 girls in different rural areas across Jordan and is executed in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Injaz. Last year, we have launched Goal Employability and Entrepreneurship Fund to train 200 Goal champions on how to start their own projects and to be ready for the job market. This year, Standard Chartered Group launched the Futuremakers initiative to tackle inequality and promote greater economic inclusion. Our ambition, on a Group level, is to raise USD50 million between 2019 and 2023 to empower the next generation to learn, earn, and grow so they can learn the skills and access job opportunities to build a brighter economic future for themselves, their families and their communities. Because together when we open doors we can close the inequality gap for good.

What specific areas is Standard Chartered looking at right now to add value for Jordan?

Today, we have two main divisions: Corporate Banking Segment and Retail Banking Segment. The Corporate Banking covers an array of business in Jordan including local large and medium size corporations, financial institutions, commercial businesses and global subsidiaries. Our aim is to provide value added lending and non-lending products to our clients. Aside from trade and lending, Standard Chartered offers M&A, FM hedging, DCMs, Corporate Finance (leverage and principal financing, ECA and Project Finance) products and services. As for Retail Banking, we offer Mortgage Loans, Personal Loans, Credit Cards, and Deposits. In addition to that, we are focused on wealth management offering and are now focusing on investing in digital capabilities to bring convenience to clients in line with regional initiatives.

How is Standard Chartered leading the digitization trend in Jordan?

A bank has to understand the market and employ good, talented people. Equally important, a bank has to understand the cycle of a particular business and what it needs to grow further, expand, or face challenging times. At present, the traditional banking sector is facing newcomers to the market in the form of FinTechs that can change the whole banking sector. Therefore, we need to be prepared for digitization in order to address any challenges. In 2017, we have started increasing our investments in our distribution channels by introducing mobile banking and changing the online banking interface to increase convenience and reach for our clients. We also offer our clients user-friendly top-of-the-line platforms to do their businesses be it retail or corporate clients. In Africa and the Middle East, we have been leading the way in driving a strong digital innovation agenda. We launched the bank's first fully fledged digital bank in Côte d'Ivoire last year and have replicated that in other countries with plans to expand this business model further.

What is the significance of Jordan in the Standard Chartered Group's portfolio?

We at Standard Chartered Jordan have a very well diverse portfolio and products offering as mentioned earlier. It ranges from financing and servicing various sectors. Jordan is a regional front-runner in technology and innovation with a pipeline of major transformational projects that Standard Chartered is keen to be part of.