Sainsbury: What are your priorities for the next 12-18 months?
Manipula: In terms of our role as operations and support to the bank’s business units, these are twofold.
Firstly, we aim to increase efficiencies to lower our operating costs by automating or changing the processes for the remaining workflows that are still being done manually.
Secondly, we will unload business units from non-selling and non-originating tasks and transferring to the support units all jobs being presently handled by the revenue generating units to allow the business units to concentrate in sales and loan origination activities.
Sainsbury: What will be the most significant challenge facing banking in the year ahead?
Manipula: One of the significant challenges in the year ahead is the thinning spreads which would push banks to move either to higher margin business lines, which is generally more prevalent in retail banking or to gear-up the volumes to off-set the lower margins being experienced per transaction. Either way these would be factors that could put pressure for higher capital requirement as going to higher margin business lines will increase the share of much riskier assets in the portfolio. At the same time, developing the capability to absorb more volume could also mean more capital investments especially in technology just to keep up with the fast moving developments in the industry and be able to compete effectively with the other players in the market. Cost savings will also be a challenge as banks strategize on both side of the profit equation.
Sainsbury: Philippine Veterans Bank recently went through a systems upgrade to allow for cloud-based email. What other opportunities do you see to adopt further cloud solutions in the future?
Manipula: In terms of opportunity, I see that it would be a big advantage to have the capability of having a cloud-based disaster recovery program in place as more of our work and data information requirements are digitised and speed of recovery as demanded by business continuity plans become shorter.
Sainsbury: What notable examples have you seen of financial organisations innovating to acquire and retain the growing Gen-Y customer base?
Manipula: Market leaders or innovators in the banking industry are first to develop online access to bank accounts. Most notable are the development and availability of e-channels for bank accounts that is available or almost available 24/7 and almost anywhere there is a mobile phone signal. This refers not just to the plain vanilla balance inquiry transactions but financial transactions as well wherein accountholders do bill payments, fund transfers, request for check books and even do investing in stocks and securities just to name a few.
Now with the ubiquitous mobile phone in the hands of the Gen-Y customers, that serve as phone, online communications tool, games console, music source, camera, calendar reminder and even electronic wallet, the financial organisations such as banks have immediately developed smart phone or mobile apps that enable account holders to do banking through their phone in an easy and trouble-free manner. This includes mobile payments with the use of the Near Field Communication (NFC) technology wherein customers pay for goods and services by simply tapping their mobile phones in a secure terminal and money is electronically transferred from the buyer’s electronic wallet to that of the merchants.
Sainsbury: How do you balance supporting a social media presence with the risk of reputational damage?
Manipula: I believe having a social media presence is more of a way to balance against reputational risk most especially when one receives a negative post in the social media space. The reason being is that the company can actually respond to the negative post better and faster as it will be able to address the issues being raised against it point by point and reach the same online viewers who are accessing the social media space and have read the negative post.
Sainsbury: What is proving to be your most effective customer acquisition channel and why?
Manipula: For Philippine Veterans Bank, the most effective customer acquisition channel is still the branches since most of our customer-base are acquired through the enrolment of an institutions’ salary loan program (example: Local Government Units, Government Agencies, Government Owned and Controlled Corporations, Philippine Veterans Affairs Office, etc.) or employee payroll accounts with our branches.
PVB is a government depository bank and this privilege is not afforded to just any bank so we are leveraging this advantage by choosing these government institutions and their employees as our main market niche. This market segment continues to be acquired primarily by the branches by offering cash management services. An example of this is our employee payroll service which is fully-loaded with value that our competitors will find difficult to match.
This service is bundled with a time keeping kiosk and a payroll system which we install in government offices where the employees swipe their ID cards to record their time-in and time-out from the office. These ID cards are issued also by PVB which not only serves is an employee ID card but is also an ATM card used by the employees to access any PVB or Bancnet ATM to withdraw their salaries.
Sainsbury: What are some of the opportunities that you see to leverage customer data to help with engagement?
Manipula: Firstly, cross-selling of bank products and services. Data can be used to score and identify clients who have not yet availed of other bank services so they can be offered other product offerings to deepen our relationship with them. This data mining activity is helpful also in proactively identifying potential loan clients based on their demographic profile and credit score.
Secondly, customer retention. The customer data can be used for account profitability analysis based on the total relationship of that client with the bank. This information may be used for pricing policies and allow relationship managers to give competitive price rates per account based on benchmark account profitability levels and depending on the clients profitability rate to keep clients from transferring their business to another bank.
Sainsbury: How do you manage the stresses involved in your role?
Manipula: I manage stress physically by keeping myself healthy through proper diet and exercise. Then I see to it that I have a good work-life balance. I make sure that I give proper attention to all the roles I do in my life and most especially in the development of a good spiritual life. I get my strength to overcome the daily stresses of work by keeping in mind why I do all these day in and day out and that is to honour my God, family and country.
Sainsbury: What information sources do you consider invaluable to your job, and why?
Manipula: I consider the internet as an invaluable information source because I can access it via PC, tablet or smartphone and get the information I need anywhere and almost any time in a flash.
Sainsbury: Every leader, particularly at your level, has a legacy they wish to be remembered for. What is yours?
Manipula: It is my wish to be able to be remembered as a leader and not just a manager that has made a difference in the life of the people I lead.