Surviving the economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 epidemic is a remarkable achievement in and of itself. Many financial institutions are still grappling with the ongoing pandemic by doing the legwork and adapting to the needs of a changing society. However, in these unique times, it takes a special type of grit to not only survive, but to thrive and grow.
The Asiamoney Best Bank Awards 2021 recognized this fortitude in Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. (Metrobank), and fittingly hailed them as the “Best Domestic Bank in the Philippines”.
“Metrobank is a firm to be reckoned with in the Philippines,” said Asiamoney Editor Rashmi Kumar. “What stands out with Metrobank is its sheer resilience during tough times, including all the uncertainty caused by the pandemic over the past eighteen months,” she added.
Kumar also emphasized Metrobank’s position as one of the country’s leading universal banks, with a varied portfolio of business and products for a wide variety of clientele and consistent year-over-year growth.
Metrobank attributed its resiliency to the lessons acquired from weathering the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997, a similar crisis that wreaked havoc on the economy. “Based on our previous experience, our mantra this time is to be proactive at the outset of a crisis so that we can swiftly get back on our feet,” Metrobank President Fabian S. Dee said. The Bank maintained a healthy balance sheet with best-in-class asset quality indicators by pursuing a sensible risk management approach, ensuring solid capital levels, and maintaining a healthy risk management plan.
Dee further enumerated some of the bank’s key strategies that made them emerge and grow amid an economic downturn. “True to our meaningful banking promise, we first focused on what, or who, meant the most to us: the customers,” he beamed.
When the first signs of a possible economic downturn appeared, the Bank immediately contacted its customers, offering them digital banking services, evaluating and providing advice on how to manage their finances, and hosting several webinars, including a fraud awareness campaign to help protect customers.
To protect asset quality and maintain long-term profitability and capital health, Metrobank took a cautious and proactive approach to portfolio management.
Despite the economic slump, the Bank’s low-cost current and savings accounts (CASA) increased by 22% to PhP1.3 trillion, demonstrating the Bank’s strong deposit franchise and client trust.
In addition, the bank’s pre-provisioning profits increased by 26% to PhP61.8 billion in 2020. As a result, the Bank was able to set aside PhP40.8 billion in provisions, providing a robust cushion against any pandemic risks. Metrobank increased its non-performing loan (NPL) cover to 163 percent in 2019 from 103 percent in 2019, demonstrating the bank’s ability to resist asset quality headwinds.
Metrobank feels that its cautious strategy in 2020 laid the groundwork for a solid start this year, with net income up 28% to PhP11.7 billion in the first half of 2021. The Bank is well-positioned to take advantage of future possibilities because to its stable asset quality and high capital ratios.
In addition, the Bank stays engaged to the community. Metrobank provided assistance to the poor and raised funds for numerous pandemic aid projects thanks to the combined efforts of Metrobank Foundation and GT Foundation.
“It is an honor and a privilege to be named the Best Domestic Bank in the Philippines. As we celebrate our 59th anniversary, it is truly a wonderful gift,” Dee added. “All we’re doing is doing what comes naturally to us: providing important services to our clients. We are compelled to always do what is best for all of our stakeholders because of their trust, even in the face of a financial crisis,” Dee said.
The Asiamoney Best Bank Awards 2021 is an annual event that honors the best banks in each area in a variety of categories.