2 Key Insights from Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp Limited’s CEO

Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp Limited (SGX: O39) is one of the three major banks in Singapore. It is also one of the largest banks in Southeast Asia by assets and counts itself as one of the oldest banks in the Garden City.

Given its heritage and heft, there may be interesting things to learn from the bank. Earlier this year, Samuel Tsien, OCBC’s chief executive, was featured in an interview in The Asian Banker. I had picked out two key insights from the interview that may be useful for investors.

1. The CEO sets the stage

The interviewer noted that OCBC took a bet on Tsien, who had not lead a large franchise like OCBC before. Tsien reflected on his approach as CEO with this thought:

“I realized that as CEO, my role is to create a conducive environment for people to perform, not for the CEO to perform.”

Tsian believes that the best approach would be to set the stage not for himself, but for OCBC’s people to shine. At the end of 2015, the bank had more than 29,000 employees in over 630 branches worldwide. With such a scale, Tsien’s approach does seem to make sense.

2. It is all in the family

The Lee Foundation owns close to 20% of OCBC’s shares and so the bank can be seen as a family-owned business. This can present challenges for management in managing expectations from the bank’s Board of Directors. Tsien acknowledged that the Lee family owns a meaningful piece of OCBC, but added this comment:

“First of all, the Board is there, but it is management that is running the bank. The Board gives us guidance to make sure they are comfortable with the strategy, with the direction that we are on.”

In fact, Tsien said that it was a good thing to have a major shareholder to provide continuity for the bank. His focus is to serve the shareholders and the community.

If you'd like to receive more investing insights and be up-to-date on the latest company and stock market news, you can sign up for a FREE subscription to The Motley Fool's weekly investing newsletter, Take Stock Singapore

Also, like us on Facebook to follow our latest hot articles. The Motley Fool's purpose is to help the world invest, better.

The information provided is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be personalised investment or financial advice. Motley Fool Singapore contributor Chin Hui Leong doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned.