Strategy, Inclusion, Compliance and Customer-Centricity: MauBank Has All of Its Priorities Firmly In Place in discussion with Vishuene Vydelingum, Chief Executive Officer of MauBank.

CEO: Vishuene Vydelingum

CEO: Vishuene Vydelingum

MauBank is licensed as a commercial bank by the Bank of Mauritius, the country’s central bank and the nation’s banking regulator.

MauBank is headquartered in Ebene CyberCity on the Indian Ocean island, and is the third-largest bank in Mauritius. What are your hopes for the future of your business, and for the industry as a whole?

Vishuene Vydelingum: My hopes revolve around sustained growth, innovation, and continued commitment to our customers. I want to see MauBank on a path of sustainable growth, in terms of financial performance as well as expanding our customer base and market presence, locally and internationally. This should be driven by prudent risk management, strategic investments, and a focus on customer satisfaction.

I look forward to an era of technological innovation. Embracing fintech advancements, AI and digital transformation will keep us competitive, improve operational efficiency, and meet evolving customer needs.

A key objective is contributing to financial inclusion and making a positive impact on the lives of individuals, families, and businesses. By developing and offering inclusive financial products and services, we aim to empower them, giving a broader segment of society access to the financial tools they need.

I also envision our bank playing a responsible role in societal and environmental matters. Sustainable and socially responsible banking practices will benefit the community and enhance our services.

Building strong partnerships with other industry players, fintech companies, and governmental institutions is crucial for addressing common challenges and fostering a collaborative environment. This can lead to shared insights, joint initiatives, and a more robust financial ecosystem.

In essence, my vision is to position our bank as a leader in the financial industry, known for innovation, customer-centricity, and a commitment to positive societal impact.

Can you pinpoint any pitfalls to help newcomers to the industry?

Newcomers to any industry face unique challenges, and the financial industry — rapidly evolving and having faced recent crises — is no exception.

Economic downturns or fluctuations impact the industry. Newcomers may face challenges in maintaining stability during uncertain economic periods. There is a need to put contingency plans in place, diversify services to minimise risk, and maintain a strong financial position.

By proactively addressing these issues, newcomers can increase their chances of success. Adaptability, strategic planning, and a customer-centric approach are crucial to establishing a strong foothold.

Financial institutions are prime targets for cyberattacks. Inadequate security measures can lead to data breaches, financial loss, and damage to customer trust. It is essential to prioritise cybersecurity, implement encryption technologies, conduct regular security audits, and educate employees on best practice.

Keeping up with rapid tech advances can be challenging, and outdated or inefficient technology can hinder competitiveness. Investing in scalable and adaptable technologies, collaborating with fintech partners, and prioritising ongoing technological updates come at a cost, but are imperative.

Consumer preferences and behaviours change rapidly, and failure to adapt can lead to a loss of relevance. New entrants need to stay abreast of industry trends, gather customer feedback, and be agile in adjusting products and services.

We’ve observed an exodus of talent across the industry. Attracting and retaining skilled professionals in the financial sector is competitive. A lack of talent impacts business operations, so developing a strong employer brand, investing in training and development, and creating a positive workplace culture should be central to the strategy.

Do you have any anecdotes to illustrate your progress over the years?

MauBank has undergone remarkable recent growth, tripling its profit in two years, with 42 percent growth in 2022/23 compared to the previous year. This has brought us recognition in the form of the awards. (Best Growth Strategy in Banking, Mauritius, 2022, and Most Promising Bank, Mauritius, 2023.)

The recipe for success includes crafting the correct strategy, understanding customer needs, and developing products and services adapted to their requirements. It also means constantly improving operational efficiency and customer experience, while containing our cost base.

Our customer-centric approach favours proximity and solid relationships. This has been a determining factor in our ability to develop bespoke products. Recent crises have affected businesses in different ways, depending on the sector. Solutions have to be developed according to specific needs.

The decentralisation of SME services across our network of business centres across Mauritius has provided greater accessibility and inclusion for start-ups and expanding small enterprises — and it’s been instrumental in strengthening our portfolio.

The extensive support schemes MauBank put in place to support customers during the pandemic allowed them to weather the storm. Our customers are bouncing back with resilience, and have trust in the bank as a strong partner for their future ventures.

Our constant drive to improve the customer journey — by way of quick turnaround time, personalised service and digital transformation — has revolutionised service delivery and customer satisfaction.

How do ESG parameters and sustainability principles affect the way your industry is run?

They’ve become integral to the banking sector. ESG considerations influence our operations in a number of ways.

We assess and manage environmental risks to ensure resilience against climate-related challenges. This includes evaluating exposure to industries vulnerable to climate change and incorporating climate-risk assessments into our lending and investment decisions.

We seek out investment opportunities that align with ESG principles. This involves evaluating environmental impact, social responsibility, and governance practices to create a portfolio to reflect that commitment.

We engage with local communities via our CSR programme to understand their needs and concerns. By maintaining open communication channels, we contribute to the communities where we operate and address any social or environmental issues that may arise.

ESG principles guide our corporate governance. This includes ensuring transparency, accountability, and ethical behaviour at all levels. Structures are in place to safeguard stakeholder interests.

We integrate ESG considerations into the development of our financial products and services. This means offering products that support sustainable initiatives, such as green financing, and aligning our offerings with the principles of responsible banking.

We provide training and awareness programmes for our employees to ensure they understand the importance of ESG. This fosters a culture of responsibility and sustainability.

So, ESG parameters and sustainability principles have a profound impact on our decision-making processes, risk management strategies, and overall business model.

What is the single most important requirement to become a global business?

MauBank is active in the global business front and the expansion of this segment is a core strategy.

For any banking institution aiming to be a key global player, the most important requirements revolve around regulatory compliance and risk management.

It’s challenging to navigate, and comply with, a complex web of regulations. Staying abreast of these and ensuring strict compliance are of paramount importance.

Effective risk management is these areas is crucial. This includes assessing and mitigating financial, operational, and compliance risks. Robust AML and KYC practices to prevent money laundering and other financial crimes must be in place, with stringent due diligence on customers to maintain regulatory compliance.

As cyberthreats evolve, banks need to invest in cutting-edge countermeasures. Protecting customer data, financial transactions, and maintaining operational continuity are vital.

Managing cross-border transactions requires expertise in currency exchange and international trade compliance. These issues, too, are essential for international banking operations.

Regular stress-testing and ensuring adequate capital reserves are also vital. These ensure the bank can withstand economic downturns, market fluctuations, and other financial stressors.

Establishing and maintaining transparent communication channels with regional regulators is essential. While other factors are important for global banking success, regulatory compliance and risk management serve as the foundation. Without a solid regulatory framework, a bank may face legal challenges, reputational damage, and increased financial risks.

What motivates and enthuses you?

To make a positive impact for individuals, families,  businesses, communities, and the economy. We serve individuals and businesses so that they can achieve their full financial potential.

Speaking as CEO, several aspects keep me enthusiastic and engaged. Banking plays a pivotal role in driving economic growth by providing financial services that enable businesses to thrive. Contributing to the overall economic wellbeing of the community — and supporting financial inclusion — are highly motivating aspects of the business.

The industry is undergoing a significant transformation, driven by technological advances. Embracing innovation and digitalisation to enhance customer experiences and operational efficiency can be exciting, as well as rewarding. We help customers to achieve their financial objectives, and empower them to make informed decisions. Building lasting relationships with customers and being a trusted financial partner are in themselves highly motivating. The industry presents various challenges, and navigating them requires strategic thinking, adaptability, and problem-solving skills — all of which I find stimulating.

Nurturing a talented and diverse workforce, providing opportunities for professional growth, and fostering a positive workplace culture contribute to the success of the organisation. Seeing employees thrive and contribute to the bank’s success is fulfilling for me. And I firmly believe that “happy colleagues make happy customers” — and that ultimately leads to happy shareholders.

The multifaceted nature of the banking business presents a dynamic and stimulating environment. The ability to make a positive impact, coupled with challenges that demand strategic thinking, is also motivating.

What are the key strengths of your team?

A young labour force brings an eagerness to learn, build experience on the job, and apply new skills. Our team is highly motivated, enthusiastic about bringing forward-trending product solutions onboard, and gearing up for the next phase of MauBank’s growth.  Senior colleagues deploy their banking and leadership skills to coach and mentor their juniors.

Ultimately, whether part of sales, support, control staff, or front-, middle- or back-office teams, we deliver as one.

What is the most important question people should ask about your business?

“How is MauBank ensuring that it stays relevant?” This question emphasises the importance of our ability to remain agile, innovative, and customer-centric in a rapidly changing landscape.

It runs through the bank’s digital transformation initiatives, including the adoption of technologies such as AI, blockchain, and data analytics to streamline operations.

The bank prioritises its response to customer needs, and its commitment to developing innovative products and services. It collaborates with fintech partners or start-ups to leverage external expertise and stay at the forefront of industry innovation, for instance in efforts to integrate with e-commerce platforms or other financial service providers.

Customers and stakeholders seek assurance that the bank is forward-thinking, adaptable, and committed to embracing positive changes and maintain relevance in the dynamic financial landscape.

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