By Uditha Jayasinghe
Reaffirming its top position Sampath Bank yesterday announced its winning The Banker of the Year award for Sri Lanka for the second consecutive time.
At a media briefing Sampath Bank Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Harris Premaratne was upbeat on the bank’s performance and insisted that the prestigious award was an acknowledgement of the revolutionary methods used to benefit their clients. The large branch network, which was expanded by 19 outlets last year, with unique products and the confidence of the bank to break into credit card schemes which were largely held by international banks operating in Sri Lanka, gave Sampath Bank the edge in meeting the demanding criteria outlined by The Banker newspaper.
“We will continue to evolve and increase our standards of service to assist Sri Lanka to reach her full potential,” he noted adding that the financial stability of the bank and its growth pattern had remained unchanged even during the challenging global financial crisis in 2008. “When we won the award for the first time in 2009 it was based on our performance in 2008; and that was immensely rewarding our efforts. We were the only bank that managed to grow by 3% despite a decline in economic fortunes. Dropping exports and stagnant imports were chocking the economy but we managed to weather the storm.”
Last year provided better news with the end of the war and resurgence in the economy. Sampath Bank made the most of this environment by introducing new products including “Kalin Cash” that gave depositors their interest up front, issuing credit cards and reducing their charges exponentially. “We are on course to become the biggest credit card issuer in another two years. Our unique product of co-branding with Cargills was a first for South-east Asia and we will continue to introduce new products in the coming year.”
Ranked the third largest bank in the private sector, Sampath Bank recorded a post tax profit growth of 51.4%, considered the highest among local banks. Posting a pre-tax profit of Rs.2.9 billion for the first three quarters of this year the bank recorded an increase of Rs. 422.8 million, an increase of 16.5% from the previous year. There was a Rs. 2 009.2 million in 2010, indicating a growth of 51% from 2009.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) was also a key focus and served as a tie breaker if two banks ranked same in one country. Sampath Bank related their commitment in this area by recycling over 45, 000 kg of used documentation in 2009 and contributing Rs.5 from every issued ATM card to the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society.