Tuesday, 25 June 2024

Tay Ah Lek of Public Bank receives William ‘Bill’ Seidman Lifetime Achievement Award

5 min read

By The Asian Banker

Tay Ah Lek’s tenure of over 60 years in the financial services industry has left an indelible mark on Public Bank, and established a respected benchmark in leadership not only on Malaysia’s financial landscape, but across the Asia Pacific region.

Tay has been with Public Bank since its inception in 1966, holding various roles including executive vice president and executive director before assuming the position of managing director and CEO in 2002. 

Throughout his tenure, he has steered the bank through turbulent times, adeptly navigating change and fortifying its resilience to cement its position as one of the leading financial institutions in the region. His remarkable 22-year tenure as CEO is a record in Malaysia’s financial sector.

Under his guidance, Public Bank achieved significant financial success. Between 2002 and 2023, the bank’s assets grew over sevenfold, while maintaining strong profitability with an average 17.3% return on equity and an average 1.4% return on assets. 

Cost efficiency improved, with the cost-to-income ratio dropping from 41% in 2002 to 34% in 2023. Gross impaired loans decreased significantly from 4.3% in 2002 to 0.6% in 2023, highlighting robust risk management. The bank sustained 18% total capital adequacy ratio and 137% liquidity coverage ratio in 2023.

Tay stewarded the bank through the global financial crisis in 2007, and the 1MDB Malaysian bribery scandal in 2015. Despite significant headwinds in recent years, his leadership remained steadfast, bolstering the bank’s resilience and capitalising on growth opportunities.

His strategic emphasis on core retail banking businesses fortified Public Bank’s market position, while digital initiatives spearheaded elevated customer experience and operational efficiency, resulting in a surge in digital transactions. Notably, Tay was proactive in engaging with regulators and financial institutions to combat digital fraud.

Under his leadership, the bank actively embraced environmental, social, and governance practices, establishing a Sustainability Management Committee and promoting sustainable financing for energy-efficient vehicles, green properties, and solar panel systems. 

Tay’s commitment to talent development ensures a future-ready and digitally literate workforce able to navigate the looming challenges in sustainability and digitalisation.

Beyond the bank, Tay’s influence extends across the Malaysian banking industry. His presence in councils, boards, and committees of institutions such as the Association of Banks in Malaysia, The Asian Institute of Chartered Bankers, The Association of Finance Companies Malaysia, Association of Hire Purchase Companies Malaysia, and the Ombudsman of Financial Services reflects his significant contributions to the development of the financial sector. His efforts in nurturing future banking professionals and advancing the nation’s development agenda are invaluable contributions.

Watch the full video here.

Keywords: William Seidman Award, Lifetime Achievement, Banking Leadership, Malaysian Banking, Financial Services Industry, Bank Ceo, Bank Performance, Risk Management, Digital Transformation, Sustainability, ESG, Talent Development, Banking Associations, Financial Regulation, Malaysian Finance
Institution: Public Bank
Country: Malaysia
Region: ASEAN, Asia Pacific
People: Tay Ah Lek
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