An Interview with Anthony Chin


FST Media: What are your priorities for the next 12 to 18 months?

Chin: Our focus is on three key priorities. The first one is to execute our digital modernisation strategy and re-platform our internet banking and mobile banking channels.

In Malaysia, 40 per cent of the current workforce is in the Gen Y category. In approximately one and a half years, it is projected that this will increase to 50 per cent. This is a very big market and important sector for the future of our business. 

It is important that we need to continue to be relevant to more of the Gen Y sector.

A clear priority for young professionals to do business or engage with a bank is via digital channels. A young professional will not be too interested in walking into a branch, and therefore why modernising our platform is important.

Today our technology in the mobile space which is AmGenie is a very old technology and out-dated and this is the main reason as to why we have to modernise. We are re-platforming and modernising our internet banking and mobile offerings.

The second priority is to re-orientate business into emerging affluent segments, while the third will see AmBank begin our simplification and people agenda while leveraging off AmBank’s new core banking system which was implemented in November 2013.

FST Media: What will be the most significant challenge facing the financial services industry in the year ahead?

Chin: The most significant challenge the industry faces is staying relevant and profitable amidst tightening regulatory conditions and a softening business and economic climate, especially when strategies remain similar across the industry, as financial services organisations go digital and improve efficiencies.

Everyone is going digital. The priority around re-orientating our business is to align this with the emergence of the affluent segment – there are four micro-segments within this – and we can potentially go to three of these besides young professionals; that is experienced professionals, small business and the Islamic segment.

Malaysia is a hot spot for small businesses, which is our focus. This model is more aligned to our strategy partners in Australia and New Zealand.

FST Media: How is the upgrade of AmBank Group’s core banking system progressing, and how are you measuring its success?

Chin: AmBank’s new core banking system successfully went live in November last year. The system covers a new generation teller front-end along with a core banking system and enterprise data warehouse. We are tracking the success of the new system with predefined exit criteria and measurements.

The core banking system replacement was a critical component for the bank. Our core banking system replacement enables us to achieve the rest of our goals around digital modernisation.

FST Media: How have AmBank’s Electronic Banking Centre’s (EBCs) and self-service machines benefited both customers and the bank, and what are your plans to build on smart kiosks like this in the future? 

Chin: Technology has made banking more convenient and simple. Technology was a disruptor year ago with the introduction of Electronic Banking Centres (EBCs), however this enabled greater convenience to our customers who were no longer bound by traditional channels and banking hours to access basic transactional needs.

The bank was able to start reducing the expensive reliance on over-the-counter transactions and instead improve operating efficiencies.

Next generation smart ATMs are already available but there needs to be a balance between cost versus additional benefits. It is currently being implemented widely in Australia as the EBC evolution was behind in Malaysia (and parts of Asia). As such, with the emergence of smart ATMs, the Australian banks have leapfrogged the curve and are investing heavily. Malaysia has long had ATMs and Cash Deposit Machines, albeit separate machines opposed to smart ATMs ‘all in one’.

Our digital channels and mobility are likely to be more pressing investment opportunities. Any further investments in EBC’s will be evaluated appropriately and on a needs basis.

FST Media: What is proving to be your most effective customer acquisition channel and why?

Chin: Direct sales and Business-to-Business (B2B) sales remain the strongest customer acquisition channels for AmBank as they are aligned to the strength of our existing business model for new customer deposits via our branches.

FST Media: How do you encourage a culture of innovation in your team?

Chin: A culture of innovation is built on trust. It is a philosophy and does not always have a tangible outcome. I encourage my team not to inhibit ideas and that failure is acceptable, but you must fail fast, learn and leverage what you have learnt. Not everything is tied to a return on investment.

FST Media: What information sources do you consider invaluable for your job, and why?

Chin: Reliable networks are a valuable source of information as they are insightful, less biased and honest.

FST Media: What do you consider to be the greatest achievement of your career to date?

Chin: Leading and successfully implementing AmHorizon, a strategic transformation initiative to replace the bank’s core banking system, teller front end, build a new enterprise data warehouse and other eco system capabilities. With 90 interfaces, big bang deployment within two years, this is possibly the most complex in the region to date.

FST Media: Every leader has a legacy they wish to be remembered for, what is yours?

Chin: I wish to be remembered as someone who is principled and who has led courageously, and accomplishing tasks with a good heart.