Interviewed By Emmanuel Daniel
OCBC Group CEO Samuel Tsien reveals the toughest crisis he had to face during his decades-long career in the banking industry.
The following is the edited transcript:
There have not been a lot of difficult decisions, so to speak. Because the people that we are close with, even though there's a professional relationship that could be a personal relationship, don't really interact that much. So I cannot recall a particular incident where I have to make a judgment call and whether one relationship will influence the other.
The most difficult period that I've been through was still during the Asian financial crisis.
Some of the comments that I've made to the press at the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, I said my assessment is that this COVID crisis, it's going to be very penetrating, it's going to be worse than a global financial crisis that we went through, it's going to be equal to, or even slightly more severe than the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) crisis. But I don't think it will be as bad as what we had experienced in Asia during the Asian financial crisis. The most difficult time that I can recall in my working career was during the Asian financial crisis. Because that was the time that we were fundamentally weak. And there were parties who took advantage of our weakness to make us even weaker than we had to be. So that was the time that we were very concerned. And that also taught me a good lesson, that the liquidity for a bank is very important.
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