Wee Ee Cheong fortified UOB's position as leading consumer and SME bank in ASEAN
Wee Ee Cheong, deputy chairman and CEO of UOB was recognised as Best Bank CEO in Singapore 2022 for fortifying the bank’s position as the leading consumer and SME bank in Southeast Asia and led the merger and acquisition of Citi’s retail business in key ASEAN markets, its largest in a decade.
The Leadership Achievement Award for Best CEO is conferred every three years to ensure that heads of banks in each country can be reviewed over a meaningful period of time. Bank CEOs are assessed based on a rigorous and transparent set of evaluation criteria and the winner is selected by an international council of advisors from among a shortlist of peers in each country.
The council of advisors for The Asian Banker Leadership Achievement programme lauded the exemplary leadership of UOB’s deputy chairman and CEO, Wee Ee Cheong, in fortifying the bank’s status as the leading consumer and small and medium sized enterprise (SME) bank in Southeast Asia.
Under Wee’s leadership, UOB embarked on its largest merger and acquisition in a decade. The acquisition of Citigroup’s consumer banking business started in 2021, the final announcement in January 2022 stated the acquisition of Citi’s retail business in the four key Southeast Asian markets of Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. This strategic decision is a significant move that solidifies UOB as a dominant player in the region – as it immediately anchors and multiplies its presence and competitiveness in the region.
Under his leadership, UOB developed and launched its flagship digital bank, TMRW, to expand its new user base and defend its existing customer base, while growing its customer franchise in ASEAN. It was first launched in Thailand in March 2019 and subsequently in Indonesia in August 2020, targeting young professionals and families aged between 25 and 39. TMRW has gained more than 570,000 customers, with 79% being new to bank, and with 75% in the target age group, having successfully penetrated the younger segment.
UOB also provides SME customers various opportunities, assistance and partnerships. The bank has a strong franchise of 500 offices connecting businesses to the region and offers dedicated foreign direct investment (FDI) advisory with 10 centres that provide integrated market entry solutions over the last 10 years. It has enabled 3,500 companies in their cross-border expansion into Asia, and in 2020 alone facilitated $39 billion (SGD 54 billion) worth of regional business flows.
During the pandemic, UOB was the one of the first banks in Singapore to announce $3 billion (SGD 4.2 billion) in relief assistance on 12 February 2020 and became the leading provider in government assistance schemes in Singapore with the largest market share. In 2020, UOB approved over $5 billion (SGD 7 billion) in collateral-free relief funding for SMEs in Singapore the same year. The total relief funding for SMEs was $6.2 billion (SGD 12 billion) to more than 11,200 SMEs in Singapore.
Wee has also put great emphasis on human capital development for a sustainable and digital future, he believes that people are the most important asset and should be top priority in any strategic business agenda and his vision of a workforce for the future placed the bank on a people transformation journey.
Over the last three years, the pandemic also accelerated his vision of a digitally-enabled UOB workforce of the future. It has enabled 80% of employees to work from home, build efficient functions through digital means, and roll out hardware and software digital equipment upgrades.
Moreover, the advisors were impressed with how he has embraced this new work culture trend and is among the first CEOs to announce flexible work arrangement and return to office policies for employees, effective even post-pandemic.
When the overall performance and achievements of UOB under his leadership were considered, his selection for The Asian Banker Leadership Achievement Award for Singapore 2022, Best Bank CEO in Singapore, and UOB as Best Managed Bank in Singapore was confirmed.
For details about evaluation criteria and council of advisors of the Leadership Achievement Award programme, visit https://www.asianbankerawards.com/leadership/
To view the photo gallery of the Leadership Achievement Award ceremony, visit https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10160166616759804&type=3
Region: Southeast Asia
Guest: Wee Ee Cheong