A senior central bank official has reiterated a call for Cambodia’s formal financial institutions to maintain good and effective governance; uphold their business ethics, professional value and code of conduct; and ensure that products and services are created with customers’ needs and preferences in mind.
National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) assistant governor Rath Sovannorak made the request last week at the opening ceremony of a training workshop on governance in customer protection and ensuring commitment for banking and financial institutions (BFI).
Scores of CEOs, directors and other shareholders were reportedly at the single-day compulsory course for BFIs, the first of eight planned for 2023.
Sovannorak explained that the workshop initiative seeks to help BFIs’ top management and other shareholders understand and acknowledge their roles in promoting consumer protection and responsible business conduct in the financial sector – two major issues he believes must be incorporated into institutions’ strategies and policies.
“Institutions’ top management and shareholders play crucial roles in ensuring consumer protection and market conduct,” he said, calling for BFIs to always put consumer satisfaction first when designing and developing products and services.
The NBC calls on BFIs to adhere to legal and regulatory requirements; refrain from potentially unethical practices that could compromise customers’ interests; and carry out initiatives under the auspices of relevant industry bodies, including those underpinned by lending or conduct codes or guidelines, he added.
The workshop was jointly organised by the Association of Banks in Cambodia (ABC), Cambodia Microfinance Association (CMA), Cambodian Association of Finance and Technology (CAFT) and CERISE+SPTF, with support from the NBC and Luxembourg Aid and Development.
At the ceremony, Nitin Madan, director of the Social Performance Task Force’s (SPTF) Responsible Inclusive Finance Facility for Southeast Asia (RIFF-SEA), stressed that ensuring that client protection is given the consideration it deserves as well as that shareholder value is preserved hinges critically on corporate governance.
“Responsible inclusive finance and client protection are not about planting 1,000 trees, we are talking of a way of doing business that puts clients at the centre of how [BFIs] operate,” he said.
At the same event, CMA chairman Sok Voeun claimed that by providing pertinent experiences, initiatives and other contributions, the training might improve procedures and push the industry in the right direction.
“We believe the [programme] will help us fulfil our expectations with regard to the important roles of governance, as an enabler for the effective implementation of client protection pathways and practices in our sector,” he said.
Meanwhile, ABC chairman “Raymond” Sia Say Guan boasted that the training sent a “positive signal” to the sector, investors, stakeholders and the public about the commitment of ABC members to good corporate governance. To this end, they have incorporated a Code of Conduct in their policies and procedures, he affirmed.
Sia lauded the programme’s workshops as part of broader efforts to strengthen unity and build confidence in the banking sector.