May 5, 2009

Inside the mind of Malaysia top banker

The stage is set for one hell of a session

I kind of joined an NGO a few months back thanks to a friend who invited me when they wanted some feedbacks on what would people expect an NGO which is targetting youth should be like. Most of the feedbacks were sarcastic as in we believe all NGOs will succumb to the darkside and will be affiliated with a political party in no time. No one really believe they will manage to stay neutral for long. They closed the session with thanks and we were treated to some food and then we thought they got cold feet as we never heard from them for quite sometime. Then, they launched. We only saw the launch on television and we were not invited. Then they went underground again. They have a website and a Facebook profile in which I got invitation to register, in which I did and two weeks ago, I got an email from them for an evening with a guest of them.

What a guest it was. It was a no-hold barred session with one of Malaysia top banker who has relation with the current Prime Minister. The new one-month plus Prime Minister. When I got the email, I immediately replied and RSVP for the event. I asked my partners to follow me as we are actually one of the panel of lawyers for the bank and it would be great for us to know what is in the mind of the CEO of one of the bank which we serve. 

The itinenary was actually quite disappointing when I first read it. It was supposed to be just a 10 minutes talk and then we will be allowed to ask a few questions. How wrong was I. He came a bit late, around 8.10pm although the time stated that he will be arriving 8pm. The setting was kind of informal although it was in an auditorium. The Master of Ceremony immediately started the event by introducing the man of the hour and the moderator, whom is also the NGO's president. As the moderator is also a high profile person, he had the advantage of knowing a few things about the banker and he introduced him properly with his CV. Then the banker took the stage.

The word that I can described his view on the current favourite topic of all talks done by bankers nowadays about the current economic situation as refreshing. He seems to have this believe that Asean (not Asia) is the new place to do business. His bank has now branches in Thailand and Indonesia. These destinations are currently not as popular as places to invest but he believe otherwise. He said in all the chaos, there are a silver lining. He even said that maybe we will even be sheltered from the global recession which is like a plague, felling one giant economy after another. This is a man who believe in one he does. I would not like to dispute him as his bank now is now one of the biggest bank in Malaysia and was said to even rival Barclays in term of capital. Just imagine the fortune of my country if anything is to happen to it. Never mind the jobs that I lost if it ever happens.

It is good to see that when the question and answer session came, he did not mince his words. He said it straight faced on what need to remain the same or what needs to be changed under the present government. He told us how one gets to his position. The only thing that he hold back is his personal life as he said he hates it when people cannot leave him alone even if he is on holidays. He brought his wife just now so he did traded some in-joke with her while answering questions but that was the only personal side that we saw of him. Mostly the questions were about banking and economy and he answered it gamely. The session lasted fr nearly close to one and half hour.

In short, it is good to know, the bankers of Malaysia know that we are not going to get through this crisis easily and as much as he is venturing outside of Malaysia, he knows that he needed to be prudent. For me, I am hoping he knows what he is doing as much as what he said just now.

And yes, the man was Dato' Seri Nazir Tun Razak, CEO of CIMB Bank.

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