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Alliance Bank CEO: No slowdown in demand

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According to outgoing group chief executive officer Joel Kornreich, the group is not seeing a slowdown in the demand for loans, adding that there is no “real reason” to believe that it would change significantly.

KUALA LUMPUR: Alliance Bank Malaysia Bhd is optimisitic about its loan growth prospect in the second half of the year despite the rising interest rate and inflation scenario in the country.

According to outgoing group chief executive officer Joel Kornreich, the group is not seeing a slowdown in the demand for loans, adding that there is no “real reason” to believe that it would change significantly.

“We were guided by our efforts to reach out to our customers and we’re also guided by the criteria that we apply to the loans.

“Clearly in the past couple of years, we have been very prudent in the criteria that we apply and will continue to do so.

“The best that we can do is to be reasonable in what we do to acquire loans and to compete as effectively as we can,” he told reporters during a virtual press conference at the bank’s AGM.

Kornreich conceded that inflation and interest rates could impact the capacity to repay loans among its customers.

However, he said the bank is not facing a significant slackening in the loan demand.

“We are business as usual. For now we are not seeing a great deal of change,” he pointed out.

It is worthy to note that the banking sector’s loan growth rose 5.6% year-on-year in June, the strongest performance in over a year.

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The group also saw a loan growth of nearly 4.6% year-on-year due to positive loans growth in the small and medium enterprise (SME) and commercial segments.

Alliance Bank aimed to achieve gross loan growth of between 6% and 8%, and a return on equity of more than 10% and cost-to-income ratio of less than 45% in financial year ending March 31, 2023 (FY23).

Meanwhile, Kornreich said the bank planned to double its SME loans in the next five years.

Over the last five years, Alliance Bank had grown its SME loan market share from 3.4% to 5%.

On the bank’s net interest margin (NIM), Kornreich opined it would remain stable on the back of its large proposition of current and savings account deposits (Casa).

“Our net interest margin is actually quite stable for now. We realise that there is competition on the deposits, but our composition or deposits helped us to mitigate this, because we have a large proportion of Casa of about 50% of our deposits.

“We also have enough liquidity to be able to modulate, manage and optimise the deposits that we raise,” he said.

Kornreich also said a potential rate hike of 25 basis points by Bank Negara in September would further improve the revenue of banks.

Following the announcement of the five applicants of digital licences, he said there would be strong competition in the SME space for the new digital banks.

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