KUWAIT: The Union of Arab Banks has named Adel Al-Majed, Vice-Chairman & Group Chief Executive Officer of Boubyan Bank Group, "Arab Banker of the Year 2021", making him the first Kuwaiti banker ever to receive the highest recognition given by the Union for excellent achievers in the Arab financial and banking business. Al-Majed was honored during the official opening ceremony of the Arab Banking Conference held in Cairo under the auspices of HE Tarek Amer, Governor of the Central Bank of Egypt, and in his presence along with many Arab leaders and bankers.
The Board of Directors of the Union of Arab Banks has unanimously approved to honor Al-Majed in recognition of his career that contributed to the growth of the banking industry in Kuwait and the region over the past 4 decades that he dedicated to the banking industry while working for the National Bank of Kuwait, after which he moved to Boubyan Bank in 2009 to start a new journey full of achievements.
In his speech, Al-Majed thanked the Union of Arab Banks for honoring him, while stressing that all his achievements over his banking career extending over 40 years were attributed to the Grace of Almighty Allah, and then to all those he worked with who were like family to him across all the departments and divisions where he served leading to where he is now.
"Over a few years, we managed to achieve double digit growth every year across many important financial metrics. By 2020, Boubyan had the second-highest number of Kuwaiti customers and had gone from the smallest Bank in Kuwait to a solid number three. Boubyan became a formidable force to contend with in Kuwait's banking sector," Al-Majed highlighted.
Al-Majed went on describing such achievements: "After 12 years of transformation, Boubyan Bank's Group now has 3 banks; Boubyan, BLME and NOMO digital bank, in addition to a Takaful insurance company, an investment company, and a services' company."
"Reaching to where we were in 2021 specifically was not easy; however, we can summarize the reasons behind our success in some points, the most important of which are setting up a clear strategy, assembling an experienced executive team, returning to the basics of banking business, focusing on customer service, investing in digital banking services, investing in our human resources, and focusing on national cadres."
A 40-year banking career
Al-Majed is a role model for Kuwaiti banking leaders who joined this industry in the 70s of the previous century, with their ambitions to establish themselves by joining a then-new industry for the Kuwaiti youths, which was not attractive for many reasons related to the difficult nature of the banking business.
It all started with the return of Al-Majed from the Faculty of Commerce, Alexandria University, with a bachelor's degree to join NBK, where he spent most of his banking journey. He then came up through the ranks until he assumed the position of the Deputy CEO of the bank before joining Boubyan Bank in August 2009.
Throughout his tenure with NBK, Al-Majed gained diverse expertise in consumer banking, business banking, regional banking services, private banking, core banking operations, IT, branch services, digital banking services, and the introduction of online banking services for the first time in the Middle East in addition to being involved in administrative and corporate governance affairs.
A cup of coffee with CEO
We could possibly say that over 10 years, specifically before the COVID, Adel Al-Majed, the CEO, met every employee personally through a bank tradition called "A Cup of Coffee with the CEO", where Al-Majed meets every other week with ten employees from various departments and grades, who are selected by HR as per an agreed mechanism.
During these meetings, which extend for more than an hour, Al-Majed gets to know the bank employees, listens to their transparent opinions and gives them the chance to express themselves freely while listening to their ideas. Such meetings succeeded in creating friendly airs inside the bank and the bank benefitted from some opinions discussed in these meetings.
Adel Al-Majed maintains excellent relationships with various media platforms ever since his days with NBK. It is very much to his credit that he has excellent relationships with all journalists and he has been communicating with them all the time without any traditional barriers such as media offices, secretaries, etc.
Moreover, Al-Majed is credited for being the first CEO in Kuwait, and one of the very few CEOs in the region, to have various social media accounts. This is not an easy thing, especially in Kuwait, which enjoys the highest levels of freedom of expression allowing people to express their opinions freely over these platforms.
Al-Majed receives many daily inquiries through these accounts, especially Twitter, in addition to messages bearing constructive criticism of the bank's services, which he accepts with an open mind without any objection out of his keenness on knowing the opinions of the bank's customers and non-customers regarding the services and products offered to them.
Key financial indicators
All the bank's key financial indicators demonstrate the results of the efforts exerted by Al-Majed and his team, which started showing early by the end of 2010. Less than two in years into the turnaround, the bank's financing portfolio had shifted, and it grew by over 73 percent, from $1.6 billion in 2008 to $2.7 billion in 2010.
From 2010 to 2021, the retail financing portfolio - that accounted for a modest percentage in 2008's financing portfolio - represented 42 percent of the financing portfolio at $7.9 billion in 2021 (a 3-fold increase over seven years at a compounded annual growth rate of 17%). Corporate financing more than doubled between 2008 and 2021 to $10.8 billion.
The composition of the financing portfolio shifted, too. Financial institutions (excluding banks) represented less than 4 percent of the total portfolio in 2015, down from 46 percent in 2008. The bank turned profitable in 2010, with a net profit of $20 million, from a net loss of $171 million the previous year. Between 2010 and 2021, net profit grew at a compounded annual rate of 21 percent, reaching $106 million in 2021.
The bank's assets reached $24 billion in 2021, up from $4.4 billion in 2010, a compounded annual growth rate of 17 percent. Non-performing loans remained low at 1 percent of total loans impaired in 2021. From a market share perspective, Boubyan struck gold with young Kuwaitis. By 2021, the bank counted nearly 50 percent of young Kuwaitis among its customers. The results of the focus on service paid off as the bank consistently received the highest level of customer satisfaction across banks in the country, and was named the Best Islamic Bank in Customer Service for 12 years.
Over the past years, Boubyan succeeded in completing the acquisition of the Bank of London and the Middle East, where Boubyan's current holding stands at 71% approximately, and then Boubyan Bank announced the full launch of Nomo Bank in Kuwait and UK as the first Islamic digital bank from London which can offer its services to Boubyan Bank's customers and non-customers. Through this acquisition, the bank aspires to become the Islamic bank of choice for GCC customers in the United Kingdom as we have incorporated a set of main principles for the bank as a part of its transformation strategy following the acquisition, including having a sustainable customer-focused brand aligned with Boubyan Bank's Group.