An industry champion is characterized by its leadership position in its various business segments, the strength of its balance sheet, the scale of its market reach, and scope of industry-leading innovations that give it a dominant foot hold and distinct competitive advantage, while allowing it to maintain sustainable growth.
Banking On Growth
Seeing the forest in spite of the trees helped one mobile technology company excel.
BDO Unibank, Inc (BDO) is a full-service universal bank in the Philippines. It provides a complete array of industry-leading products and services such as lending (corporate and consumer), deposit-taking, foreign exchange, brokering, trust and investments, credit cards, corporate cash management, and remittances. Through its subsidiaries, the bank offers leasing and financing, investment banking, private and rural banking, life insurance and brokerage, and stock brokerage services.
BDO was incorporated on December 20, 1967 under the name Acme Savings Bank. Its name was changed to Banco de Oro Savings and Mortgage Bank in 1977. It was granted full universal bank status on August 5, 1996 and underwent a series of mergers and acquisitions in the 2000s as the bank grew its footprint and increased its market coverage. BDO’s merger with Equitable-PCI Bank in 2007– the largest M&A in Philippine history, with a value of PHP87.7 billion – made it the largest bank in the Philippines in 2008, a position it has held since then. Its name was changed to BDO Unibank, Inc. in 2011.
As the leading brand name and banking franchise in the Philippines, BDO dominates the market with a combination of scale, reach, business mix, product offerings and brand recognition. BDO is the number one bank in the Philippines in terms of total assets, deposits, loans, assets under management, and capital. It is also the market leader in most of the business lines it operates, despite doing business in a very competitive industry comprising of 46 universal and commercial banks, 54 thrift banks and 470 rural banks.
BDO was named the most reputable bank in the Philippines in a 2018 corporate reputation study released by Kantar TNS, one of the world’s largest research agencies. The quantitative study compared numerous Philippine banks in terms of overall reputation, favorability, trust, success, and product and service quality.
The bank attributes its market leadership to a focused strategy, complemented by competent execution on one business line, one market at a time. Having continuously invested in market reach and client coverage, BDO has the largest branch and ATM footprint in the country, enabling it to reach underserved and unserved markets, and providing financial access to the majority of the population by bringing the bank to their communities.
Other competitive advantages include a diversified business model which provides full-service operations, and a host of industry-leading banking products and services to serve the retail and corporate markets. The bank’s customer-centric culture complemented by a strategic distribution platform also gives it competitive edge.
“Have focus in what you do. Focus on one thing that you are really good at, and just continue doing it day in and day out—weekly, monthly, or over the years. Success will not happen overnight. Just put your mind to it.”
To its customers, BDO’s “We Find Ways” philosophy and service ethic has elevated customer convenience to a higher level. The bank also operates the largest branch and ATM network in the Philippines, with online and mobile platforms to ensure 24/7 accessibility and convenience for its customers, so as to provide the best banking experience possible. Innovation is also a big factor to the bank’s continued success. It constantly strives to offer clients out-of-the-box banking solutions to better serve needs. These include extended banking hours, and weekend banking in mall-based branches for easier access and convenience.
In 2018 BDO became the first financial institution in the Philippines to issue a Green Bond worth US$150 million in view of its developing climate finance in the Philippines. Its recent PHP35 billion fixed rate bond offer is the largest single peso bond issuance by a Philippine bank. Similarly, BDO’s US$700 million issuance of fixed rate senior notes in 2017 represents the largest single dollar-denominated issuance by a Philippine bank.
BDO has been recognized by many different prestigious organizations for its best practices. The bank was among the top 50 publicly listed companies for 2013-2015, as ranked by the ASEAN Corporate Governance Scorecard. Forbes 2018 named it one of the Global Top Regarded Companies 2000 for 2017-2018, while also listing BDO as one of 2018’s Global Top World’s Best Employers. The FTSE4Good Index Series, designed to measure the performance of companies demonstrating strong Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) practices, also included the financial institution in its 2017 Index.
As an employer, BDO offers competitive compensation packages as well as opportunities for advancement and professional development via targeted training and skills development programs. The bank also strives to provide an empowering working environment for its employees, to allow them to demonstrate their full capabilities and talents.
The BDO Foundation spearheads the bank’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives which are divided into disaster response, rehabilitation, rebuilding, and financial inclusion. The Foundation leverages resources towards the relief, rehabilitation, and recovery of disaster stricken communities. To date, BDO has conducted 240 relief operations, serving 471,199 families. The bank also has constructed 34 school building to date, with 116 classrooms benefiting 32,657 student. Additionally, BDO has initiated nine housing projects to date, benefiting 636 families.
BDO Foundation recently launched its program on financial inclusion to help improve the financial literacy of underserved Filipinos. The program has two focus areas: financial education, and capacity building for small entrepreneurs. It is expected to benefit 700,000 teachers, 2.4 million students, 90,000 soldiers, and 2.3 million OFWs. The bank believes its biggest challenge over the next five years is to improve financial inclusion by finding ways of further serving the underserved and the unbanked, as well as the young and emerging affluent segments of the population. It believes the banking industry will also have to be able to optimize the use of digital technology to ensure that its processes and systems are capable of providing safe and uninterrupted service while allowing clients access to the products they need.
In order to extend market reach and expand its product offerings across multiple platforms, BDO is aiming to increase its footprint by opening 50 to 60 new local branches per year, in addition to marketing offices, ATMs, and other digital outlets. It will also increase market coverage via MSME loan products through its rural bank subsidiary, One Network Bank (ONB). The bank also hopes to expand life insurance penetration by increasing the number of BDO Life’s Financial Advisors stationed at its branches. Plans are also underway to upgrade its online stock brokerage unit BDO Nomura’s trading platform to make it more user-friendly, while capitalizing on BDO Private Bank’s open architecture to reach more emerging affluent and high net worth individuals.
As the banking industry moves into a new digital age, BDO will work on strengthening its digital infrastructure by moving more applications to the cloud, complementing physical branches with digital channels, enhancing cyber security, and harnessing big data to gain more client insight in order to support cross selling initiatives, and monitor feedback for marketing programs.
As an outstanding corporate citizen, BDO believes in providing sustainable value creation to promote the best interest of its stakeholders. The bank continually enhances its corporate governance framework to sustain superior business performance anchored on the principles of fairness, integrity, transparency, accountability, and performance.