Cebu loans market ‘phenomenal’

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014


FOR the Philippine Bank of Communications (PBCom), Cebu’s loans market is more than encouraging–it is “phenomenal.”

Kristine Lotilla, PBCom senior manager said most of the loans in Cebu were corporate loans that grew “exponentially” at 1,000 percent last year.

They expect even more from Cebu after setting up its expansion plans.

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Rather than just concentrate on their niche, the bank is reinventing itself to cater to a more diverse group by turning their branches into one-stop-shop business centers to address a variety of needs.

In Cebu, the bank has five branches located in Magallanes, Gen. Maxilom Ave., along the highway of Mandaue City, Basak, Mandaue City and the newest in Cebu Business Park.

3 segments

While their market has traditionally been focused on Chinese businessmen, the bank is dividing its services into three segments–one for integrated financial solutions such as time deposits, peso and dollar savings accounts and checking accounts; corporate loans; loans for small and medium enterprises; and consumer loans to serve a wider market.

This year, the bank expects to open two more branches in Cebu and several more across the country.

Lotilla said the changes being implemented within the bank are part of their rebranding strategy, which introduces PBCom as “next level banking.”

She explained that their new direction is meant to bring banking to a higher level by reinventing the customer experience.

Chester Benedict Go, general manager of PBCom’s Cebu business center, said that their old way was to assign a certain service to one person and find that person if a customer was in need of that particular service. Now, Go said anyone in the bank can accommodate customer concerns.

They are also paying particular focus on the small and medium enterprises, which they consider drivers of the economies in the Visayas and Mindanao. SMEs with asset sizes of P20 million and below will be able to avail of similar services afforded to corporate accounts but with a simplified approach in evaluation. Lotilla said the evaluation process for SMEs will be much faster and could be approved within a month, depending on the amount a company is applying for. PBCom is offering a maximum of P25 million for SMEs.

Lotilla said they have a diverse portfolio of companies, from manufacturing, trading, developers, financing and shipping.

Driver of growth

Executive vice president Patrick Cheng, who heads the bank’s trust and wealth management, said Cebu will be a driver of growth for the country and the region.

Cheng, who gave a presentation on the country’s outlook last night, told reporters that Cebu’s growth will be driven by business process management, real estate, retail trade and tourism.

As they expect the economy to continue to do well, he said those who are not in business can still benefit by buying into the stock market. He suggested products like their unit investment trust fund with a minimum amount of P10,000 as some of the options available.

In a statement, PBCom president and chief executive officer Nina Aguas said Cebu’s dynamic business climate has driven their optimism in the area.

“With the boom in the various business sectors in Cebu--including tourism, BPO, manufacturing and real estate, among others--we are seeing the market needs more robust financial solutions that empower them in their growing personal and business ambitions.”

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 20, 2014.

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