BOC Merchant Tower, No.28, St. Michael's Road, Colombo 03, Sri Lanka
+94 11 4711711
Q: Could you elaborate on Merchant Bank of Sri Lanka & Finance’s (MBSL) journey so far?
A: Merchant Bank of Sri Lanka & Finance has a rich history of 37 years in terms of assisting entrepreneurs and businesses in the country; and it has built strong relationships and networks with customers throughout the years. These are critical factors in our success story.
Established as a B2B service provider, MBSL moved into retail financial services in recent years. It has expanded its footprint to include 49 touch points and focusses on a wide segment of the public. We have gone from strength to strength, and continue to focus on our ambition of nurturing a robust business community in the country.
Q: What are your views when it comes to the state of business in the island?
A: While there is potential, the country has not pursued a suitable long-term strategy. Moreover, although it has been impacted by negative events, Sri Lanka remains a destination for business opportunities.
As it is surrounded by populous countries, there’s immense potential for export markets that Sri Lanka must exploit further. However, we have not been able to take advantage of these opportunities due to a lack of strategic continuity.
Q: How has the financial services industry been impacted by the country’s economic climate?
A: An economic slowdown and persistent bad weather, which affected many vital sectors of the economy, exerted pressure on all major players irrespective of size; and MBSL was no exception.
However, we believe that the economic climate will gradually change and have set ambitious goals in line with the country’s long-term growth objectives for the SME sector. It is our intention to facilitate international trade, assist in capital market development, introduce modern financial tools to the economic landscape and uplift the Sri Lankan economy by way of supporting SMEs.
Q: In your opinion, to what extent are innovation and technological change impacting financial services?
A: We are firm believers that digitalisation is not a buzz - word anymore but the way we live our lives. Bricks and mortar infrastructure will recede to be replaced by the push of a button, voice commands and eventually, thought control – all of which will be key to unlocking the potential of digitalisation.
MBSL’s digitisation process has been accelerated since 2017 with detailed implementation through a five-year strategic plan being identified. Of this, the first two phase process has been completed. The remaining phase is expected to be concluded in 2022.
Social media platforms enable MBSL’s stakeholders across demographics to engage with us from rural to urban, young people to senior citizens, micro and SMEs to large corporations, agriculture to infrastructure, national enterprises to MNCs and global entities. This forms an integral collective in contributing to the nation’s economic development strategy.
Q: As an organisation, how has MBSL grown over the years?
A: We have grown consistently over the last 37 years, and employees have brought our vision to life through disciplined action and dynamic decision making to enhance the quality of life of the people with whom we deal.
Throughout 2019, we continued to pursue new opportunities whenever they were accessible. Our well thought out strategies harnessed opportunities and turned obstacles to our favour while carving niche markets in hitherto underserved segments. Additionally, MBSL sharpened its focus on the market for registered vehicles, land sales and housing loans.
Furthermore, we aggressively engaged in gold loans amid stabilisation of gold prices in the
international market while customer service was strengthened by upgrading our call centre facilities.
Furthermore, we aggressively engaged in gold loans amid stabilisation of gold prices in the international market while customer service was strengthened by upgrading our call centre facilities.
Q: And lastly, in the prevailing business environment, what are MBSL’s priorities?
A: MBSL’s focus for the immediate future will remain much the same as in 2019; we will further consolidate our strengths and build resilience. In this regard, we will look to leverage on our core competencies to seek potential opportunities for growth especially in the retail segment.
Nonetheless, we expect to remain cautious in growing our loan portfolio as the underlying aim is to strike a balance between improving net interest margins and sustaining the quality of our lending in the long term.