An Interview with Tan Teong Hooi


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

Tan: Alliance Bank’s vision is to be the best customer service bank in Malaysia; and our IT vision and strategy supports this aspiration. Some of the strategic IT priorities to enhance customer experience include: technology refresh of the core banking platform, replacement of selected critical legacy systems, continued execution of the enterprise mobility journey, virtualisation of IT infrastructure and applications, and strengthening information security.

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

Tan: Some of the challenges, which also present exciting opportunities, include dynamic changes in consumer behaviour and rapid technology advancement. We opine that the pace will accelerate in the coming years as Gen Y and the Millennials come of age. This calls for greater flexibility and agility in the ever-evolving financial services landscape. We will have to not only respond swiftly to the wants and needs of our customers, but also proactively anticipate, participate and influence our customers’ needs to stay ahead of the competition whilst complying with regulatory requirements.

FST Media: How has Alliance Bank’s mobile app delivered value to the business, and how will you measure its success?

Tan: Mobile banking applications provide an omni-channel banking experience, with the added benefits of speed, accessibility, and convenience that has become a hygiene factor for today’s tech-savvy customers. Some mobile application related metrics include the new user take-up rate, transaction volume and revenue generated.

FST Media: How does Alliance Online bring value and convenience to customers – and what are your plans to create a seamless experience across all Alliance banks platforms?

Tan: Alliance Bank adopts a holistic approach when it comes to protecting its customer interest whilst delivering secured convenience. The approach encompasses on-going education, continuous fraud prevention innovation, and transaction assurance.

The bank has two unique internet banking services for consumers and businesses: AllianceOnline Personal and Alliance BizSmart Online Banking. 

The AllianceOnline Personal serves not just as an e-payment gateway, but also provides transactional and online investment services, including preferential e-rates for deposit and investment products. 

Alliance BizSmart Online Banking offers a comprehensive range of advanced enterprise cash management services to our business customers. It comes bundled with the bank’s “More Of You” business banking integrated suite of services which includes business current account, business ATM card and a business platinum credit card where the customer has the opportunity to design their own card face to showcase their business.

Advanced cash management tools, offered to sole proprietors and small businesses include bulk payment capabilities, easy account reconciliation, full suite of payroll facilities, and pre-configuration capabilities.

Both the AllianceOnline Personal and Alliance Bizmart Online Banking were designed from the ground up, including enhancing the integration and interfaces, architecting the solution so that customer touch points work on the same platform and data, and streamlining the straight-through processing. By doing so, we were able to provide a consistent and seamless experience across all platforms for all our customers.

FST Media: What do Alliance Bank’s self-service terminals offer to customers, and what benefits does it offer the bank – how will you further develop this?

Tan: Alliance Bank’s network of branches and offsite locations nationwide are equipped with self-service terminals (SSTs) consisting of automated teller machine (ATMs), cash deposit machines and cheque express services’ machines for customers’ convenience. These machines are available 24/7, and serve to extend the bank’s network in areas where we may not have a physical branch presence. It also offers an alternative for customers to perform transactions during non-office hours.

There are on-going initiatives to further enhance customer experience across all touchpoints and enable our customers to perform their financial transactions conveniently. These include setting up more e-lobbies at strategic locations, increasing the number of terminals, and broadening the functionality of the SSTs.

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

Tan: Our people continue to be our most effective customer acquisition channel as they exemplify the bank’s tagline of “Banking Made Personal”.

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

Tan: The bank has in place, the R.I.T.E. values, which stand for Respect, Integrity, Teamwork and Excellence. These values are practised in the workplace. We begin by articulating expectations and we welcome suggestions and ideas for ideas, big or small, to effect changes and improve processes. We emplace a system that provides flexibility for on-the-job knowledge transfer, job rotation and secondment. The bank also provides opportunities for staff to take on cross-functional projects and to work in different teams, thereby bringing fresh insights and new perspectives.

These practices engineer a proactive and creative change catalyst to challenge the status quo, and encourage our teams to think more creatively and critically.

FST Media: What tools or references keep you abreast of emerging technology trends?

Tan: I regularly keep in touch with a close circle of technology analysts from leading global consulting, research and advisory firms to keep abreast with emerging technology trends. I also subscribe to their newsletters and publications, follow thought leaders on the social media channels, and stay tuned to the online broadcasting space.

FST Media: What is your definition of success?

Tan: To me, success extends beyond individual accomplishments. It is defined by our collective efforts in realising the goals that we set out to achieve at the organisational level.

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

Tan: While I have not thought much about leaving a legacy, I do believe one of the more valuable contributions a leader can make is to contribute to the development of a corporate culture where the people in the organisation will be able to continue to embrace change, innovate, challenge the norm, and pride themselves as having brought the organisation to greater heights.