Security Bank more bullish on Mindanao

William Whang, senior vice president and head of SBC's branch banking group, told reporters in a press conference at The Marco Polo today they are definitely expanding in Mindanao and launching highly in demand consumer products.

He said the offering is an indicator there is fast growing market for consumer products such as auto, housing, and personal loans in Mindanao.

Whang admitted that the violence reported on Mindanao is overshadowing the business side but they have remained bullish as they see opportunities in the island. He said the peace and order situation is just part of the ball game.

"We cannot just worry about the short term if we want to think long term. We still have to go ahead with plans outlined in the next five years," Whang said.

Jason Ang, SBC regional head for Visayas and Mindanao, said that surprisingly, their Zamboanga branch, which is proximate to areas reported to be peace and order hotspots, is one of their leading branches in Mindanao in terms of deposits.

SBC’s board of directors is holding its regular meeting here today, its first time outside Makati City. With them are 35 senior officers from around the country in time for SBC's customer appreciation party, a consumer blitz.

Whang said they wanted to tell Mindanawon clients that the holding of the board meeting here signifies the bank's commitment to stay in the island for the long haul.

He said SBC wanted to tap the growing strength of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), private individuals with higher level of deposits and overseas Filipino workers by expanding and creating new and tailor-fit products.

Whang pointed out that Mindanao’s domestic growth in 2006 has risen to 15 percent, indicating that it is a boom area. "We feel the growth is here," he said.

He said one probable reason of the boom in the area is the maturity of depositors. Before, bank clients patronize only the traditional products such as time deposits, he noted. But now, clients are more open to sophisticated and higher yielding products, like treasury and trust.

SBC runs three branches in Davao City, and one each in the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, General Santos, Panabo and Zamboanga.

SBC reported net income of P1.9 billion for 2006, or a 65-percent growth over its income the previous year.