Friday, 19 April 2024

In memory of Teh Hong Piow - A visionary and disciplined leader

5 min read

By Kate Berbano

The founder and chairman emeritus of Public Bank, Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Dr. Teh Hong Piow, passed away at 92. He dedicated himself to building a strong banking group that supported the financial system and economy of Malaysia. In 2015, The Asian Banker conferred him the William “Bill” Seidman Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the industry.

Public Bank Group announced the passing of its founder and chairman emeritus, Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Dr. Teh Hong Piow, on Monday, 12 December 2022.

Tan Sri Teh founded Public Bank in 1965 at the young age of 35 and had overseen its evolution into a top privately-owned commercial bank in Malaysia and its growth across the region. As the CEO and managing director of Public Bank, he steered the bank towards excellent financial performance through consistent and disciplined management, and cultivated a strong corporate culture.

From 2002 to 2018, Tan Sri Teh held the position of the non-executive chairman of Public Bank. He was conferred the title of chairman emeritus and adviser of Public Bank in 2019 and remained a non-executive director on the board of Public Bank until his passing.

He began his banking career in 1950 as a bank clerk at OCBC. A decade later in 1960, he became one of the founding staff of Malaysia's national bank, Malayan Banking Berhad (Maybank). Just four years after joining Maybank as a manager, he was promoted to the position of general manager at only 34. He left Maybank a year later to set up Public Bank.

He also held key positions in various organisations such as his own foundation in Malaysia, LP Capital Berhad, Malaysia (Group), and Tong Meng Industries Ltd Singapore. He was a member of the Malaysian Business Council, a member of the National Trust Fund and a founding member of the Advisory Business Council.

In 2015, Teh as the then-founding chairman, he received the William “Bill” Seidman Award for Lifetime Achievement from The Asian Banker for creating an unrivalled benchmark in the banking industry.

Tan Sri Teh had overseen the evolution of Public Bank into a modern and integrated financial institution that is highly regarded by industry peers. It demonstrates best practices in various areas that peers hope to emulate and benchmark against, such as its now unbroken 55-year profit record, above-industry return-on-equity (averaging in the high 20% range before the Basel III capital requirements) and very impressive cost-to-income efficiency (averaging in the low 30% range).

He will be remembered and loved as a hardworking man, a visionary leader, a loving father and husband, a kind friend, and a key icon in Malaysia’s banking and financial sector. All of us at The Asian Banker, especially our colleagues in the Kuala Lumpur office, are deeply saddened by the passing of Tan Sri Teh Hong Piow, and offer our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.

Institution: Public Bank
People: Teh Hong Piow
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