Association of Professional Bankers, Sri Lanka President Shashi Kandambi Jassim
Q: Can you give us a short history of APB and its annual conventions?
A: The Association of Professional Bankers, Sri Lanka was formed in July 1988 by a group of dedicated senior bankers and it has been the most representative organisation of banking professionals in the Island. The APB was formed with the declared mission of achieving the following: To sustain the highest standards of professionalism and integrity among bankers, to advance the public interest and to influence the achievement of the highest ethical standards and governance in banking industry.
We also function as a forum that brings together leading personalities in business administration to have intellectual discussions on matters of common interest in the contemporary banking and economic sectors.
Ever since its formation, the Association has been very active in trying to achieve most of its objectives by organising lectures, seminars and various training programmes to help bankers to keep abreast of the latest developments in their sphere of work. Such programmes covered not only the subject of banking but also other related areas such as technology, management, marketing, etc. Senior executives of banks were also invited to participate in various programmes organised by the Association on very useful subjects of interest to them as banking professionals.
Our activities are not limited to academic and professional development; we also hold several social events during the year such as the members’ night, singsong, etc. that promote healthy social relationships among the members.
The Association completed a decade of service in 1998 and the event was celebrated in a fitting manner by organising several activities spread over three days. The main event was the symposium on ‘Banking Beyond Year 2000’ at which the Guest of Honour was Andrew Buxton, Chairman of Barclays Bank, London. The event was a tremendous success and became the talking point among those associated with the financial service industry in this country. The success of this event motivated the Association to conduct the convention as an annual event. Since then, the Association has conducted annual conventions on numerous themes of contemporary interest.
In fact our Annual Convention has become a much-anticipated event amongst bankers in Sri Lanka. It is becoming an event recognised in the entire South Asian region as we draw some of the resource persons and the keynote speakers from the industry leaders in the region.
Q: What is the theme of this year’s annual convention and its relevance and importance to banking and finance?
A: The theme of this year’s convention is ‘Thriving in a Digital World’. The theme was selected after much deliberation due to its relevance and timeliness.
As you know the effects of digitalisation are seen everywhere. Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, has coined the phrase ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution’ to describe the phenomena of digitalisation, and the financial service sector provides ample evidence of the revolutionary change this technology has brought.
At the beginning, the banking industry benefited immensely from the technological advancements by the automation of its operations. But the technology marched on and now has revolutionised the payment and settlement methods and a few years ago helped the creation of digital currencies, and now it is encroaching into lending and financing activities all of which have been exclusively banks functions.
In facing this challenging situation how will the banking industry ensure that technology actually serves it and does not disrupt it. This is what our learned speakers and participants will discuss in depth at the convention particularly at the technical sessions.
Q: What are the key features and highlights of this year›s convention?
A: In every convention we invite an eminent person from the industry, who has made a significant contribution and has achieved international recognition, to deliver the keynote address. Central Bank of Sri Lanka Governor Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy will be the Chief Guest this year.
The APB will also be publishing the ‘Anniversary Volume’ containing contributions from distinguished professionals and academics. Copies of this publication will be presented to distinguished invitees at the Inaugural Session of the Convention to be held on 2 November and to all participants attending the Technical Sessions on 3 November. In addition, copies of the publication will be delivered to all banks, financial institutions, libraries of educational institutions related to banking and finance and to all universities in the country.
We have observed that the articles in the past volumes have been of immense value to practicing bankers and other professionals in the banking and finance sector and also to those who keenly follow the developments in banking and finance. Another significant event during the inaugural sessions is the presentation of the award for the banker who has made a significant contribution to the profession. This is an annual award and is regarded as an honour conferred on a distinguished banking professional by fellow members of the profession.
Previous recipients of this award are:
2006: A. Kadiravelupillai, Gaston Gunawardena, Dr. Wickrama Weerasooriya
2007: A.S. Jayawardena, Rienzie Wijetilleke
2008: Dr. R.B. Ekanayake
2009: Nihal Fonseka
2010: W.A. Wijewardena, Dr. Ranee Jayamaha
2011: Parama Dharmawardene
2012: Rajendra Theagarajah, Rohini Nanayakkara
2013: Moksevi Prelis
2014: Ranjith Fernando
2015: A. Sarath de Silva
Q: What is the structure of this year›s convention and how have you lined up the program?
A: As I stated the Convention will be held on two days, the Inauguration on 2 November 2016 and the Technical Sessions on the 3 November. The technical sessions will commence with a curtain raiser and culminate with the Chief Executives forum.
The Technical Sessions are structured resembling a voyage taking the participants through all aspects of the issue that is being addressed. There are six technical presentations arranged in an interest arousing manner, titled Changing Tides (covering Global trends), Charting the Course (Digital Strategies), Unfamiliar waters (Challenges in Transformation), Sentinels (covering Cyber Security), Man over Machine (Human Resource issues) and the Clear Skies or Storms (Disruptions to the Industry).
We have organised these sessions sandwiched between panel discussions so as to keep the participants excited and to keep the maximum take home value. This way we hope to cover the entire spectrum of knowledge that is relevant to the banking industry on the topic of digitalisation.
Q: What is the expected audience and what benefits can participants expect by attending the convention?
A: This event is open to non-members as well. We expect the participation of most senior bankers in this event. As in the previous years we expect the participation to exceed 300. I am sure there have been many seminars on the theme of digitalisation organised by various bodies, but this is the one symposium organised by the bankers and for the bankers from the perspective of the banking industry. As such, we can call this year’s convention the ‘Digitalisation Boot Camp for Bankers’.
We are sure the participants will take the wisdom offered by the convention back to their respective employers, thereby increasing the digitalisation readiness of the entire banking sector in Sri Lanka.
Q: As the President of APB, what is the message you have for your members and other bankers
A: Having faced multiple economic cycles, and lived through waves of political and social unrest bankers have survived the worst of times. Bankers are agile, adaptable and sometimes adventurous in overcoming challenges. We need to catch up, learn and adapt to the changing times and the new climate. Then we can march ahead with the conviction that technology is within our control and that we are going to reap the benefits it offers. In this connection I wish to invite the young banking professionals to join the APB and benefit from the opportunities it provides to work for the advancement of the professionals as well as their own professional betterment.