Monday,24 June 2024

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

5 min read

The William ‘Bill’ Seidman Award for Lifetime Achievement was conferred on Tay Ah Lek, managing director and CEO of Public Bank, at The Asian Banker Leadership and Business Achievement Awards 2024, held on 23 May at the Conrad Hong Kong.

This award recognises Tay’s career spanning over six decades in the financial services industry, leaving an indelible mark on the bank he led, and on Malaysia’s financial landscape.

Since Public Bank’s inception in 1966, Tay has been an integral part of its growth, holding various roles, including executive vice president and executive director, before assuming the position of managing director and CEO in 2002.

Under his guidance, Public Bank assets grew sevenfold between 2002 and 2023. The bank maintained strong profitability, boasting an average 17.3% return on equity and an impressive 1.4% return on assets. Tay also maintained a cost efficiency ratio of 34% in 2023.

“All of the data suggest that Public Bank is the best bank in Malaysia on the strength of its balance sheet,” said Emmanuel Daniel, founder of The Asian Banker. 

He also emphasised the world-class efficiency by which Public Bank is run: “From a global perspective, the banks with the lowest cost-to-income ratio for a very long period of time—there were only two such banks in the world. One was Hang Seng Bank here in Hong Kong and the other was Public Bank in Malaysia. 

“And these two were global benchmarks in banks that were run very close to their community, keeping the trust of their local population, feeding back dividends to their shareholders, and keeping trust with the regulator and the community. And just by keeping trust with all of their stakeholders, they’re able to build institutions that withstand the test of time.” 

Throughout his tenure, Tay navigated the bank through turbulent times, solidifying its position as one of the leading financial institutions in the Asia-Pacific region.

His remarkable 22-year term as CEO sets a record in Malaysia’s financial sector, a testament to his dedication to maintaining the legacy of his mentor and predecessor, the late Teh Hong Piow, who received the same award eight years ago.

Tay steered Public Bank through numerous challenges, including the global financial crisis and the 1MDB Malaysian bribery scandal. Despite significant headwinds in recent years, his leadership remained unwavering, bolstering the bank’s resilience and capitalising on growth opportunities with foresight.

The William ‘Bill’ Seidman Award for Lifetime Achievement is a recognition of Tay’s invaluable contributions to the banking industry and his tireless efforts in shaping Public Bank’s success story during his tenure.

In his acceptance speech, Tay highlighted the opportunities for the banking industry to be a platform for creating a more sustainable future.

He said: “As bankers, we are all on platforms that can make significant impact on society and the environment. We must always strive to ensure that the impact we create is driving the people and the planet closer to a more sustainable future.

“Sustainability and climate change are the greatest battles of this generation. It is also a complex battle as the world juggles many priorities and struggles to find a pathway towards success. It is no longer adequate to be good at running a bank. Bankers today have to be good at running a bank for the greater good and to be able to do so in the face of intense competition, rapid technological changes, digital fraud, and hyper fluid business dynamics.” 

Click here for the full citation.

Keywords: William Bill Seidman Award, Lifetime Achievement, Financial Services Industry, Public Bank Assets Growth, The Asian Banker Leadership And Business Achievement Awards 2024, Return On Equity, Return On Assets, Cost Efficiency Ratio, Global Financial Crisis, 1mdb Malaysian Bribery Scandal, Sustainability, Climate Change, Sustainable Future, Digital Fraud, Technological Changes, Business Dynamics
Institutions: Public Bank, The Asian Banker, Hang Seng Bank
Country: Malaysia, Hong Kong
Region: Asia Pacific
People : Tay Ah Lek, Emmanuel Daniel, Teh Hong Piow
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