Home Interview Professional Icon: Syed Murtaza Hassan

Professional Icon: Syed Murtaza Hassan

Professional Icon: Syed Murtaza Hassan

Syed Murtaza Hassan
EVP & Head of Branch
Standard Bank Limited

Mr. Syed Murtaza Hassan is an esteemed leader in the banking industry. With a distinguished career spanning several years, he currently serves as the Executive Vice President and Head of Branch at Standard Bank Limited. His expertise in financial management, strategic leadership, and commitment to delivering exceptional banking services have made him a driving force in the industry. He is dedicated to advancing the goals of Standard Bank Limited and ensuring the highest level of customer satisfaction.

Let’s learn about his journey.

The InCAP: Mr. Syed Murtaza Hassan, please share your professional and academic peregrination for our readers!

Mr. Syed Murtaza Hassan: I passed SSC from Banani Biddyaniketon and HSC from Adamjee Cantonment College, Dhaka. My father wanted me to be a doctor, but could not get chance in government medical college. Then I did B.Com (pass) from Dhaka City College and completed my MBM degree (Masters in Bank Management) from BIBM (Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management (BIBM) and joined Dhaka Bank Ltd. I spent there almost 11 years. I got the scope to work at different desks of large corporate branches of the bank. Meanwhile, I did MBA from NSU during the year 2003. I joined Trust Bank Limited on June 2013 as opening Manager of a branch in Dhaka city. I left Trust Bank on April 2020, and joined Mercantile Bank Ltd. to launch their window-based Islamic banking.  

It was my dream to work in a full-fledged Islamic bank. As such, when I got the call from Standard Bank Limited, I did not think twice. I joined there as Head of Corporate Business Division on December 2020. I took the charge of Dhanmondi Branch of the bank on May 22, 2023. 

Can you please briefly describe your journey and experience that led you to your current role as EVP & Head of Branch at Standard Bank Limited?

I got the scope to work in the conventional banking systems, window-based Islamic bank and full-fledged Islamic bank. I always try to learn new things, want to take new responsibilities and take out myself from comfort zone. I never said “no” when my management wanted me to take any new responsibility.

In my engagement with Dhaka Bank Ltd. I had the scope to work in Import, Export and Credit department of large corporate branches of the bank.

After joining Trust Bank Ltd. in June 2011, I was assigned to open the new Branch in Dhaka city. My thrust to work in Islamic banking led me to become deputy head of the Islamic Banking Division of the bank during the year 2013. I became Head of the Division on February’ 2018. Trust Bank Ltd. is now doing Islamic Banking business with 15 (fifteen) Islamic window license. Within a short span of time, Islamic Banking business became a significant source of income of the bank.

April 29, 2020, I joined Mercantile Bank Limited as Head of Islamic Banking Division and assigned to launch its window based Islamic Banking operation. Mercantile Bank Ltd. started its Islamic Banking operation on June 29, 2020 successfully. They are now operating their Islamic banking operation with 45 (forty-five) Islamic window license and able to generate profit within 1 year of it’s journey.

At Standard Bank Limited I was assigned as Head of Corporate Business Division on January 07, 2021. My key responsibilities are to increase new corporate business as well as increase the portfolio of existing corporate customers. In my portfolio a significant portion of investment comprises with RMG industry. To get an in-depth knowledge on garments industry, I decided to enroll myself for MBA in Apparel Merchandising at BUFT (BGMEA University of Fashion Design and Technology) on 2022. I took the charge of Dhanmondi Branch on May 22, 2023.  

What strategies have you implemented to drive growth and profitability within your branch at Standard Bank Limited?

I have followed three approaches in this regard: procurement of new business, cost control, and recovery. Reputed new relations helped me to grow my portfolio further. Non-funded commission-based income also helped me to increase profitability of my branch. I put a special focus on procurement of low-cost deposit.  

As an EVP & Head of Branch, what challenges do you face while playing your role, and how do you overcome those?

Branch profitability is now harder than ever to achieve. it has radically changed since the pandemic. Consequences of Russia-Ukraine war made the situation worsen. Branches are now facing both business and operational challenges. In addition to making profit, challenges of mounting default loan recovery, retaining and procurement deposit at a frustrating marginal rate of interest have been added to.

I always believe on relationship banking and want to focus more on existing tested customers, rather go for aggressive new relations. Hence, for cautious growth for the branch, we have taken the strategy of nurturing existing good borrowers by way of enhancement and optimum utilization of existing limit. In this regard, we make regular visit to client office and factory to identify the industry information and to expand the business. BUFT, where I am doing my MBA (Apparel Merchandising) is an important source of information and business as well. We regularly follow up on sales routing of our clients, which become a significant source of our no cost fund. I have defined the responsibility of each employee of my team to identify their performance.

What key challenges do you foresee in the banking industry in the coming years, and how is Standard Bank Limited preparing to address them?

The economic crisis is intensifying all over the world. In the post COVID global economy supply shortage cause import prices to rise at an abnormal rate. Inflation will dominate the entirety of the coming years. No hope to end Russia and Ukraine war soon. Default loan already on rise, signaling a non-recovery of loans and survival will be difficult for banks if bad loans continue to rise. Moreover, liquidity deficit created in some banks. Perhaps this is first time Bangladesh is facing both local and foreign currency crisis.

As you know, Standard Bank Limited converted from conventional banking system to Shariah Based Islamic Banking system during January 01, 2021. Shari’ah conversion has eliminated treasury income, profit capitalization (compounding) and significantly restricted target clients.

The decision for going to Shariah Based Banking is entirely out of the conviction of our Honorable Board of Directors. However, this conversion is playing a major role towards growth of quality assets due to it’s unique debt structure, i.e assets-based financing. National Credit Ratings Limited rated the Long-Term rating “AA+” and outlook rating “ST-2” of SBL.  

For better management, Standard Bank Limited categorized it’s investment portfolio under three segments, wherein, Grow/Green refer to the clients bank intends to grow business, Maintain/ Manage (Yellow) refer to the clients which have reasonable business performance with moderate payment behavior and Vulnerable/Red refer to clients whose payment behavior is poor. Bank set different strategies for respective categories.      

Standard Bank Limited established separate investment monitoring division, special asset management (SAM) division and recovery division at Head Office to exert maximum effort for recovery. Also formed CTSD (Central Trade Service Division) to strengthened to close the loopholes in money laundering through trade financing. Special attention given on financing export led manufacturing, including garments, footwear and agro-processing products. 

Expatriate income plays an active role as a significant driver of Bangladesh’s economy. Considering the significance of foreign remittance service Standard Bank Ltd. have established Remittance drawing arrangement with 12 (twelve) Exchange Companies situated in USA, Dubai & Bahrain. SBL have also established two Subsidiary Exchange companies (100% owned by Standard Bank Ltd) of it’s own in UK & in USA . We are able to en-cash or serve the customers instantly through all branches.

SMEs are getting the highest priority from policymakers due to their already proven multidimensional contribution to the socioeconomic environment of our country. SME enterprises are easy to start, require only minimum capital, employ a comparatively higher number of people, and produce goods that meet local demands as well as contribute to export earnings. Since beginning, Standard Bank Ltd has been rendering banking services all over the country through improved customer service, creative activities & commercial integrity equipped with all modern services. As per guideline of Bangladesh Bank, Standard Bank Ltd has taken active role to increase SME Investment out of its total investment portfolio. Considering the importance of SMEs in the economy of our country, Standard Bank Limited has formed a separate SMEs Division for maintaining full-scale operation of SME activities. All of our branches are serving SME customers through dedicated and well-trained SME officers.

What was your first job in life? How much was your first salary? What did you do with the first paycheck?

Dhaka Bank Limited was my first place of job and stay there almost 11 years. I still remember the day I draw the first paycheck; it was Eid Bonus I received immediately after my joining and spend the whole for my family.

Mr. Syed Murtaza Hassan, please say something to the readers!

Set your objective first, ask yourself what you want to do in life. Prepare a short-term and long-term plan to achieve the target. Nothing can be achieved without proper planning. Always open a second line. Honesty, manners and piety are the key source to success.

Quick Chat With Syed Murtaza Hassan

The most outstanding achievement of your life as of now:
My appointment as Head of Islamic Banking Division at Trust Bank Limited. If I did not take the challenge I would never be where I am now.

The greatest philosopher in your view:
Prophet Muhammad (S), peace be upon him.

Your Icon:
My father

Name the most influential books you have read:
The Holly Quran

Best piece of advice you’ve received:
Love your family, give them time, it will help you to get success in personal and professional life as well.  

You in only three words:
Adaptable, resilient and enthusiastic.

Skill Set:

Hard Skills: Product and industry knowledge, resilience, communication skill, commercial awareness, analytical skills, negotiation skill, technical skill, work ethic, attention to details.

Soft Skills: Adaptivity, proactive, positive attitude, teamwork, interpersonal skills, self-motivation, gesture and posture.

Prayer For The Human Civilization:
May Allah give us in this world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good, and save us from the punishment.

The InCAP: Thank you, Mr. Murtaza! It’s a glittering conversation with you!

Mr. Syed Murtaza Hassan: My pleasure! Wish you all the best! Thank you.

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