EVOLUTION AND GROWTH OF PREMIER BANK IN SRI LANKA BANK OF CEYLON TO UNPARALLELED TOWERING ELEVATION IN STATURE – by Sunil Thenabadu

EVOLUTION AND GROWTH OF PREMIER BANK IN SRI LANKA BANK OF CEYLON TO UNPARALLELED TOWERING ELEVATION IN STATURE – by Sunil Thenabadu

EVOLUTION AND GROWTH OF PREMIER BANK IN SRI LANKA BANK OF CEYLON TO UNPARALLELED TOWERING ELEVATION IN STATURE - by Sunil Thenabadu

Sunil-ThenabaduThe prestigious Bank of Ceylon the country’s Number one bank ceremonially celebrated eighty three years anniversary in rock solid robust existence at the historic ‘City Office”  fully refurbished building premises on August 1st graced by the Chairman Kanchana Ratwatte, General Manager KED Sumanasiri, additional General Manager Russel Fonseka, members of the corporate and executive management and other distinguished guests including long standing valued clients. Bank of Ceylon solely own the city office building which is one of the most historical buildings in Fort area recognised by the department of archaeology .The Bank of Ceylon takes pride in maintaining this building for over eight decades preserving the historical values for the nation.  

In year 1938  August 1st Ceylon then Sri Lanka a British colony,  the Governor Sir Andrew Caldercott who ritualistically opened Bank of Ceylon  as the first native state assisted bank to finance local industrialists and entrepreneurs, who were destitute of much desirable coffers. Sir Ernest de Silva was the initial Chairman etched in gold in history of the bank. Ascending from the universal qualms and competitive tasks in socio-monetary events has to date 628 branches scattered all over the island with 689 automated teller machines (ATM’s) to be the foremost commercial bank in the island despite an extremely competitive challenges with other banks. The next branch was in Kandy opened in year 1949,soon thereafter in London.The first Sri Lanka General Manager was Chelliah Loganathan appointed in year 1953 who served as the GM and CEO until the year 1969 having piloted the bank to an unprecedented pinnacle. It was during his tenure in year 1962 minister of trade, commerce and shipping TB Ilangaratne who took stringent to nationalise the bank. 

Currently afford the large clientele across the globe a prompt service round the clock each day with a branch at head office opened all twenty four hours. There is a call centre from which information on accounts and all details could  be verified also round the day by calling 0011941122044444.The B App when downloaded could assist in transacting any financial transaction and to verify all details. All obstacles in the repercussion of the ‘Covid-19’virus related pandemic, hurdled triumphantly sans inconveniencing the large clientele.  

I am Sunil Thenabadu who  dedicated 34 years of my  working life retiring prematurely at fifty five years on health issues to the magnificence and triumph of the prime, novel Bank of Ceylon with a universal existence, considering it opportune and fitting to discourse the courtesy of all its shareholders- viz. the government, esteemed clienteles, bank staff, trade unions and the community at large. Towards such a conclusion, I wish to emphasise momentarily with the bank’s past prominence a few of its inimitable routines and triumphs predominantly through grim epochs, by  lent capital on its rank as the unsurpassed universally esteemed, local bank in Sri Lanka. 

While serving its drives over monetary mediation, the bank’s deposits and advances ranges cultivated progressively   with  the mounting  trade economy in  export and import wealth as such, the then management of  BOC opened a Branch in London in 1949. With such symbols of rewarding evolution, there was no challenge even after the country’s liberation in 1948 to nationalize the Bank of Ceylon.  

EVOLUTION AND GROWTH OF PREMIER BANK IN SRI LANKA BANK OF CEYLON TO UNPARALLELED TOWERING ELEVATION IN STATURE - by Sunil Thenabadu

However, due to a major swing in monetary strategies, BOC was nationalised as a state-owned bank in year 1961 united with defensive guidelines against foreign banks forming an imprisoned marketplace for state-owned banks. Subsequently, the bank in the early seventies was demanded to extend its services to the rural areas by opening over three hundred island wide Agricultural Service Centre (ASC) branches under an pioneering ‘mixed banking’ prototype with view to help farmers in rural areas . It assuredly prolonged the bank’s affiliation with the laypeople as its patrons. In executing this replica, the bank familiarised a abundance of varied credit schemes with refinance conveniences from the Central Bank and other credit lines.This was a boost, from international funding agencies such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and International Finance Corporation (IFC) to uplift the economy of the rural farmers, small and medium entrepreneurs as well as self-employed craftsperson in the semi-urban sector. 

The commencement of the era of the ‘open economy’ in the late seventies, Sri Lanka’s financial market was relaxed permitting the re-entry of foreign banks creating a ferocious rivalry specifically in viable and global banking. During the decades of eighties and nineties, the bank retorted successfully to the mounting encounters in a speedily fluctuating global atmosphere, by familiarising pioneering products such as credit cards, ATM/debit cards, in a fully computerized atmosphere implementing apt promotion and human resource expansion policies. The bank also enlarged its perspectives and opened overseas branches in Chennai, Karachi, Male and a joint venture bank in Nepal.Also in year 2015 signed a memorandum of understanding with bank of Tokyo -Mitsubhishi. Aided by a robust balance sheet and financial performance, the bank was ranked tall by international rating bureaus making it a respected borrower in the international financial markets on behalf of the govt. of Sri Lanka too. BOC was the first local bank that ranked among in to the top 1,000 banks in the world as per the routine assessments performed by the reputed UK magazine ‘The Banker’ had maintained the status quo to date. The recognition of the bank by a sturdy universal web of over 900 correspondent banks continued to accelerate its international banking processes to the gigantic aid of the country’s exporter and importer  traders. In review, the bank’s concept of being ‘The Bankers to the Nation with a international presence’ at the time, was acceptably accomplished by the above-mentioned routines 

It is significant, that in addition to being the banker to the millions of the population in all walks of life, through its Island wide network of  six hundred and twenty eight branches, the BOC became the related banker to the government as well.This is aptly proved when USA imposed an prohibition on Iran in 1980, the BOC drawing on its vigorous international upright standing was the only bank to continue to negotiate letters of credit for tea shipments to Iran for its clienteles successively and for other banks’ customers too, trusting on pledges by Iran’s “Central Bank”, of payments inclusive of interest for interruption, and save the country’s economy while avoiding a flop of our tea industry. 

On another occasion when ships refused to come to Sri Lanka after LTTE bombed the Colombo harbour, the BOC portraying  on its International appreciation, organised a Lloyd’s Insurance agreement within three working days  cementing the way for shipments sans interruption and kept the country animated. On instances as above, BOC was and to date is, the only bank operating in Sri Lanka that possesses the drive and the ‘risk taking ability’ to crack at short notice for the benefit of the country. 

BOC’s active involvement as the ‘Bankers to the Nation’ and the government during the two past revolutions and the tsunami, is no mystery to the public and the security forces were reassured by the constant arrangements made by the bank to receive their salaries without any delays. With the beginning of the new millennium, the bank’s vision was reviewed to read as ‘to be the No. 01 Bank in Sri Lanka and to be recognized as such by the general public’. Accordingly, the bank had kept phase with the rapid changes in technology and familiarised customer centric pioneering products such as ‘SLIPS’, SMS Banking, Internet Banking , Smart Banking etc. Succeeding BOC managements and staff have regularly endeavoured to retain BOC’s place as the No. 01 Bank in Sri Lanka. In the progression, the bank has now grown its network up to 2,000 local customer touch points with customers displaying a momentous swing from manual banking to digital banking devices such as B-app, Smart Pay, and Online Banking etc. The bank also strengthened its global presence by opening a new branch in Seychelles and a second branch in Hulhumale – Maldives. As a result of the said triumphs, the bank won Sri Lanka’s No. 01 Banking Brand and No.01 Bank Awards for the last 12 years in a sequence. 

It is pertinent to mention that, with the blessings and support of the successive governments, the bank when necessary, executed a series of reorganization/re-engineering/restructuring exercises with the aid of prominent foreign consultancies, to attain this continuous farfetched growth perhaps towards  targeting achieving BOC’s Centenary Vision in year 2039.Presently, BOC is rolling at an average level in regard to its global existence led by its fully owned subsidiary in London and supported by branches in Chennai, Maldives and Seychelles. With its supplementary illustrative presence in the Middle East and South/East Asia, the BOC’s Vision-2039 plans a ‘Global Model’ providing a variety of tailor-made banking resolutions to a established international customer base without bargaining its current pledge towards elating of the unbanked segments of the local society involved in agriculture, fisheries and related self-employment in the small and medium sectors. Thus, BOC’s Vision -2039 would be a global concept for the country too. 

EVOLUTION AND GROWTH OF PREMIER BANK IN SRI LANKA BANK OF CEYLON TO UNPARALLELED TOWERING ELEVATION IN STATURE - by Sunil Thenabadu

The predicted progress of the Colombo Port City as a ‘Regional Financial Hub’ in close range to the iconic BOC head office with ‘Heritage’ likely as ‘Jaathiye Maha Pahan Temba’ , will provide a evident, royal prominence to BOC as the foremost bank  similar to in all other big cities of the world. It will not only stand in moral place with the varying prospect but also will render BOC with the much desirable tactical benefit to link its head office with all banking activities at the Port City ventures. 

Towards this end, in addition to Central Bank guidelines, we have proposed that a fresh ‘Agreement’ be entered into between the Govt. and the BOC, inter-alia permitting the requisite autonomy to the bank to conduct its business like any other private commercial bank conforming to prudential banking rules  and other international norms that stand upon its ratings by celebrated International evaluation agencies. Such action will surely prop up BOC’s footstep in the route of its centenary Vision-2039 , ensure achieving  of government’s own goal of a prosperous Sri Lanka. 

Sunil Thenabadu in Brisbane

e mail sthenabadu@hotmail.com.

WhatsApp 0061444533242 

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