Bangladesh to start full-fledged investment banking

Faisal Mahmud

Abrar A Anwar, Ex-CEO, Standard Chartered, Bangladesh tells Bangladesh Post

Abrar A Anwar, the immediate-past CEO of Standard Chartered Bangladesh, believes that the financial sector of Bangladesh is poised to start full-fledged investment banking.
Anwar, who has joined Standard Chartered Malaysia as its CEO on November 1, 2017 told that the banking sector in Bangladesh has matured and has achieved enough potential to introduce complex financial products like derivatives, mortgage-backed securities and asset-backed securities.

Prior leaving for Malaysia on October 30, Anwar was talking to the Bangladesh Post during an exclusive interview. “I think it is a very exciting period for Bangladesh. We just need to ensure that it is steered in that direction with all the other ingredients which are required to support such growth,” said the former Standard Chartered Bangladesh chief.

Abrar Anwar is specialised in investment banking and he has received his training on this from UK and India. After he joined the Standard Chartered from Citi Bank NA in 2011 as the Managing Director of its wholesale banking arm, he has almost tripled the profit of Standard Charted in the next six years.

Standard Chartered is the largest foreign bank in Bangladesh and under Anwar’s able leadership it become the leading bank in terms of profitability and the highest return on equity over the last three years.

He introduced innovative financial facility like syndicated loan, project finance with which the financing of the large projects have become possible. As per his guidance, Standard Chartered has mobilised funds for 23 percent of installed power generation capacity and helped the country acquire Boeing aircraft.

Standard Chartered Bank now directly and indirectly, handles 13 percent of Bangladesh’s global trade and 35 percent of the US dollar clearance.
Anwar was made the CEO of the bank in 2015. He is the second CEO of this multinational bank in Bangladesh. The first one was Rumee Ali, who was appointed as the first CEO in 2000 after the Standard Chartered acquired the operation of the ANZ Grindlays in Bangladesh.

He is also the first to be appointed as a CEO of a global multinational bank in any major country outside Bangladesh. Nasrin Sattar was made the CEO of Standard Chartered Afghanistan before.

Anwar started his career back in 1991 with the ANZ Grindalys bank. He worked there until 2000. In 2000, when ANZ Grindalys was acquired by the Standard Chartered, he joined The Citi Bank NA and worked there for 11 years before joining Standard Chartered Bangladesh.

As a career banker with the multinational banks, he thinks highly of the local commercial banks of Bangladesh. He said some of the local commercial banks are doing excellent jobs in terms of maintaining high governance, profitability, and low NPL.He, however, believes that the banks still have miles to go in the changing global banking landscape. “Technological disruption has already hit the banking sector and the banks need to adapt accordingly.”

Praising the current economic condition of the country, Anwar said, Bangladesh has macro-economic stability and the GDP growth of Bangladesh remains impressive every year.
Domestic consumption, per capita income have also increased, which come as a boon for the banks here. “We, however, need to further improve institutional governance. To overcome the global geopolitical changes, we need to be resilient.”

About his plan for Standard Chartered Malaysia, Anwar said Malaysia is a big economy and Standard Chartered has a long presence here.
“I will do what I did in Bangladesh. I will simply try to make the bank more profitable than now.”

He said to make a bank profitable, the most important thing is a happy and diversified human resource.
“The banks have to be human centric. First, they need to have a human resource who will make banks clients happy through their expertise and top-notch financial service.”