KARACHI: Six leading banks of the country emerged as winners in the first-ever banking awards in which awards were given in eight categories on the basis of performance and best practices at a ceremony held at the Mohatta Palace on Friday.
United Bank Limited was declared the ‘best bank’ as it was assessed to be the most significant contributor to national development, an institution that managed its resources effectively, including its employees, clients, franchise, community and finances.
At the same time, Habib Bank Limited bagged two awards for the ‘best bank for small business and agriculture’ and the ‘best Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Bank’.
The banking sector in the country has covered a long distance and is currently well positioned to participate actively in its growth and development by expanding the banking net for universal financial inclusion, improving credit access through innovative tools and channelising resources towards efficient and desirable investment avenues by lending to the private sector, speakers said.
Syed Salim Raza, a former governor of the State Bank who headed the jury, commended banks for their resonance, technological advancement and persistent effort to stay ahead of the curve.
“Banks have done remarkably well and should be in the forefront of strategy development instead of relying on the regulators,” he remarked in a presentation.
The ‘Pakistan Banking Awards’ has been instituted by the Dawn Media Group, in collaboration with the Institute of Bankers Pakistan (IBP) and A. F. Ferguson & Co., a member of PwC Global Network.
A total of 28 banks competed for eight categories. They were adjudged on the basis of their evolution and performance as well as their current standing in Pakistan. The jury consisted of the President and CEO of Pakistan Institute of Corporate Governance, Fuad Azim Hashimi; Chairperson of State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan, Nargis Ghaloo; former Banking Mohtasib, Pakistan and former country head of SCB Pakistan, Azhar Hamid; former SBP governor Syed Salim Raza; and former regional head of Citibank Middle East and Pakistan, Shehzad Naqvi.
With two awards HBL emerged prominent among the scheduled banks. It received an award for being the ‘best bank for small business and agriculture’. “The bank with strongest performance, diversification and quality of SME and agriculture lending nationwide,” the jury remarked about the HBL. The bank also received the ‘best ESG Bank’ award. “The bank with main focus towards ESG attributes for conduct of responsible business. ESG attributes cover historically respect for the environment, for society and for governance.”
Tameer Microfinance Bank got two awards for ‘Bank the Unbanked’ and ‘Best Microfinance Bank’. It has paid the most attention to financial inclusion by expanding its outreach through rural and low-income urban penetration. It is the best all-round micro finance bank.
Meezan Bank secured the ‘Best Islamic Bank’ award. The bank that has made the most progress in extending and expanding the Islamic banking franchise and raising public awareness, remarked the jury.
MCB Bank was declared the ‘Best Bank for Corporate Finance and Capital Market Development’. The award was given with the comments that the bank had excelled in promoting capital market development, deepening secondary markets, and providing advisory services to optimise the efficient use of industrial and commercial assets.
Bank Alfalah bagged the ‘Best Customer Franchise Award.’ The bank was appreciated with remarks that it is the bank with most efficient services delivery and attention to customer requirement.
SBP Governor Ashraf Mahmood Wathra said Pakistan Banking Awards was a step forward in acknowledging the positive contribution the banking sector was making to national development.
“The award categories selected are true manifestation of our vision for the banking industry highlighting inclusion, focus on SME, microfinance, corporate finance and capital market development, customer franchise, CSR and last but not the least Islamic banking,” he said.
Shabbar Zaidi, partner A. F. Ferguson, said the awards are meant for celebrating success in a key field.
Hameed Haroon in his welcome remarks said it was an attempt to appreciate the banking talent of Pakistan.
IBP Chief Executive Hussain Lawai also spoke.