Victoria Commercial Bank PLC to Capitalise Growth Opportunities

Dr Yogesh Pattni, CEO, Victoria Commercial Bank PLC, says his bank will shift focus to automation

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Published: Mon 30 Oct 2023, 12:02 PM

VICTORIA COMMERCIAL BANK (VCB) PLC is well capitalised to realise growth potential and will continue to perform in coming years, its top official says.

Dr Yogesh Pattni, CEO, Victoria Commercial Bank PLC, said the bank will focus more on transformation of its products and services by enhancing the role of technology to facilitate its customers.


“The bank is now shifting focus to technology and automation of its products. We are also looking into artificial intelligence to provide enhanced customer experience soon,” Dr Pattni said.

Sharing his experience, Dr Pattni said he has more than 35 years of his association with the Kenyan bank. “I began my career as a credit manager at what was then known as Victoria Finance Company Limited, in October of 1987. At that point in time, as a new set up, the company had limited staff (four in total) and I had to go over and beyond in my responsibilities to drive the business forward,” he said.


“This initiative propelled my growth and gave me invaluable exposure to different aspects of operations, finance as well as the greater involvement in the overall formulation of the company’s expansion, goals and strategy et cetera,” he added.

In 1990, he said the company moved its headquarters from the capital city of Nairobi, to the lake side city of Kisumu where the company was incorporated – the name referring to Lake Victoria. “During this time, the managing director of the company moved to Kisumu, but some years later left employment, which led to my ascension in 1992 as the managing director of Victoria Commercial Bank (VCB) Limited,” he said.

VCB PRODUCTS, SERVICES

About the VCB, Dr Pattni said it is a full-fledged commercial bank with a valid licence and regulated by the Central Bank of Kenya. The bank began operations on October 15, 1987 as a finance company and thereafter converted to a commercial bank in the year 1996.

He said VCB is a public bank but not listed. It has a niche client base comprised of corporates from the SME segment and high net worth individuals. “The bank has strong governance structures, a healthy asset base, strong liquidity, is well capitalised and a loyal, steady client base. VCB has a remarkable client retention rate of around 90 per cent to 93 per cent clients staying with the bank,” he said.

“We have been in existence for 35 years and provide a full range of banking and financial services. This includes current accounts, savings accounts, fixed deposit accounts, foreign currency accounts, letters of credit, foreign currency purchase and sale, loans, mortgages, overdrafts, import finance, and so on,” he said. However, he said the ethos of the bank is that one glove does not fit all. “Our Relationship Managers will look at individual client needs and/or requirements, analyse them and provide fitting solutions best suited for the client. The primary purpose is to add value to a client, and that is a principal reason why most clients choose to stay with our bank and not move,” he said.

100% PERFORMANCE

Dr Pattni termed VCB as one of the best banks in Kenya and attributed the credit to very strong asset base or an excellent loan book with 100 per cent performance record. “VCB prides itself on having a superior loan book for a record 13 years wherein all of the loans that were made were 100 per cent performing. This achievement is unprecedented and in some instances institutions doubted that it is possible,” he said.

However, he said an in-depth audit spanning two years was carried out by an investment entity which confirmed that indeed the loans as reported were all performing for a record 13 years. “It was during the Covid-19 pandemic that many businesses faced challenges, as did economies and it was then that we registered a non-performing loan after a significant period,” he said.

OVERCOME CHALLENGES

Dr Pattni also discussed some of the major challenges initially faced by the bank and how he evolved a strategy to overcome the issues in the shortest possible time. “Initially, it was difficult to penetrate the market as a new player and the products that we were offering were not any different from the ones that other banks had. To overcome this challenge, we strategically influenced the market — not by soliciting deposits but instead by offering loans and by giving superior service levels which enabled us to provide the ultimate experience,” he said.

“There were upwards of 40 financial institutions in the country at that time and we had to provide exceptional service levels, better products and services and work on thin margins and tight budgets,” he added.

Dr Pattni said the bank currently has four Development Financial Institutions (DFIs) who have provided to VCB Tier II capital. These DFIs are sovereign funds from governments of Sweden – Swedfund, Switzerland – Obivam, Belgium – BIO and World Business Capital from USA.

“Additionally, we have also acquired Tier II Capital from British Arab Bank – BADEA. The provision of Tier II capital from these institutions is an indication of the stability of the bank and significantly enhances the reputation and standing of the bank,” he said.

To a question about future plans and where he sees Victoria Commercial Bank in the next 5 years, he said: “We expect to be in the Tier II category and have doubled our balance sheet size. We also expect to have opened additional branches and be the preferred bank for corporates and high net worth individuals.”

TECHNOLOGY ADVANCEMENT

Dr Pattni said the bank has shifted focus to increase the role of technology to capture the rising demand of banking products and services in the market.

“We currently have six branches, but our balance sheet is larger than institutions who have a much larger branch network. We have achieved this by deploying technology and having a strong focus on corporates,” he said.

Through technological advancement, he said clients have been able to carry out their daily banking from the comforts of their homes, offices, that too from their smart phones or laptops.

“The need to visit bank branches have been minimised unless a client needs to discuss funding needs or a particular issue. Otherwise, whether they wish to transfer funds, bank a cheque(s), purchase foreign currency, open a letter of credit, it can be managed with the advancement of technology. We also looking into artificial intelligence to provide enhanced customer experience soon,” Dr Pattni concluded.

VCB'S KEY MILESTONES

  • 1987: Started operation as a finance firm.
  • 1996: Converted to a commercial bank.
  • 2002: Unveiled our ultra-modern headquarters in Upper Hill, a landmark building and rebrand of the institution.
  • 2008: VCB was ranked the 3rd Best Bank in Kenya by the Market Intelligence banking survey.
  • 2011: The bank opened its second branch in Westlands.
  • 2013: The bank was awarded the third Best Bank out of 43 banks by RSM Ashvir in a banking survey.
  • 2014: The bank opened its third branch.
  • 2018: The bank launched its fourth branch.
  • 2020: The bank unveiled its fifth branch.

— The bank is awarded Best Bank in Tier III and first runner up in product innovation.

  • 2021: VCB received the UN Global Compact certification and was awarded Most Customer Centric Bank.
  • 2022: VCB received the UN Global Compact certification for the Most Customer Centric Bank for the second time in a row.
  • 2023: VCB was felicitated at the Think Business Banking Awards with the 2nd Runners up Best Bank in Internet Banking as well as 2nd Runners Up Best Bank in Tier III.

– The International Business Magazine awarded VCB with the Most Innovative Corporate Banking Provider in Kenya award as well as the Emerging Mobile Banking Service Provider in Kenya award.

— The bank is featured by Forbes Magazine in its Africa Edition.

— Opened our sixth branch in Nyali, Mombasa.



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