A. K. M. Kamruzzaman, FCMA
Senior Executive Vice President
Head of Operations
LankaBangla Finance Limited
With the multiple chains of actions in line, the head of the operations is solely responsible for overseeing those actions to map and achieve the goals of an organization. Of them, A. K. M. Kamruzzaman, FCMA, LankaBangla Finance, is triumphing in his workplace and contributing to the company to a great extent. Read to find out his story.
The InCAP: Mr. A. K. M. Kamruzzaman, we all know how inspiring you are for the country. Do you think that you will work in the highest position of this organization one day?
A. K. M. Kamruzzaman: When I joined this company as a Manager (Finance Division), the then Vanik Bangladesh Limited, now LankaBangla Finance Limited, I aimed to be the company’s Chief Financial Officer. It was not in my thought then that I would aspire to top in the enterprise one day. Before LankaBangla, I worked for seven companies, just within a period of around four years and a half, struggling to find the right fit for my education-backed aim and dream workplace.
Joining in LankaBangla is like something unplanned happens in life, but it happens from cravings of the soul, as a gift from the authority, the almighty. I started to enjoy the work here, the environment, and the industry, and with that enjoyment, my career dream in the company also began to transform. Within four years of my journey in the company, I aspire to top this one day.
In brief, I would say, the dream comes from inner feelings or motivation, shaped by background, personality, education, and experience, and it starts to transform into reality if it is enjoyable as only then make efforts get momentum. So, since I am still enjoying my job, I dream of topping the enterprise one day.
Now the people of the country are Tech-friendly. So we are interested to know about general tech adoption in your organization.
We, at LankaBangla Finance, have been digitally active for quite a long time, even since our inception. We are the 2nd player entering the digital payment market in the country after Standard Chartered Bank through our credit card in the name and style Vanik Card back in 1998.
Furthermore, in the capital market industry, we, through our subsidiary company LankaBangla Securities Limited, launched the Broken Hosted Order Management System (BHOMS) for the first time in the country. Furthermore, as the country’s 2nd Financial Institution (FI), we launched Core Banking Software (CBS) in 2012.
The pandemic inspired us to look at our ways of businesses with new perspectives and innovations. We have reduced our human resources’ physical presence by almost below 30% at one stage. In addition, online applications processing through Web and App for both loans and deposits have been made available through e-KYC.
FinSmart app provides digital platform for customers services and online applications. Financial inclusion has been extended through onboarding and connecting the MFS and PSPs for our customers. Customers’ transactions are also being facilitated through multi-digital channels like BEFTN, NPSB, RTGS, DDI, etc. NFC card transactions have been enabled for our credit card customers. CBS has been updated to ensure better services. We are the only FI in the country providing 24/7 call center services. “Shikha” chatbot, the virtual assistant, is live to provide 24/7 customer services also. Relevant authorities also recognize our digital drive towards excellence through ISO 27001:2013 certification and PCI-DSS certification, which we are proud to be the lone in FI Industry.
We are living in a new normal condition now. But the pandemic is not over yet. So what mental preparations should be taken from your side as a Head of Operations at LankaBangla Finance?
By now, we have been experienced with how to deal with pandemics for two years, which gives us the mental strength to remain resilient and vigilant. We have overcome the fear factor, and now we can survive and sustain even the worst scenario, which makes up our mental strength to respond.
In the case of fear and uncertainty, mental strength is the most important thing to respond positively; if we lack that strength, we feel numbness which ceases our ability to respond. All other factors come later. Like the nation, we at LankaBangla, have developed that resilience in our workforce. Besides that, the next important thing to support mental strength is the built-up ability to respond. We have been in digital transformation, and the achievements so far give us the courage that we are on the right track. We have learned to look into ways of doing things with different perspectives and look forward or even imagine beyond our current state, which has never been like now. These mental shifts will help us navigate in the future, In Sha Allah.
We eagerly want to know your remark on the future of the Startup Companies in Bangladesh.
The next is now, meaning it has already started, the startup boom in the country. It happened in the USA, in the western, China, India, and Bangladesh. Interestingly and promisingly, the waves have been started with the impetus of the Gen Z, the Millennials, who are expected to drive it further and far. With the increase in tech knowledge, adoption, digital transformation, and the booming of digital platforms, startup ventures will get further momentum.
The government and its ICT division focus on extending infrastructure, investment, policy, and other supports, and the funding is now available from global sources through including cloud funding and different ways. Moreover, as a role model of sustainable and lucrative economic growth, Bangladesh has been drawing international attention. All these are the drivers for ensuring a steady growth of startups in Bangladesh.
What do you think regarding corporate tax reduction in Bangladesh?
I would say that the corporate tax rate in Bangladesh is on the higher side, considering the cost of doing business on the higher side. But, our corporate enterprises, likewise our public enterprises, have not reached an optimum state in terms of optimal utilization of resources due to many factors, like infrastructure bottlenecks, higher cost of funds, lower productivity, lower-tech adoption rate, weak governance, etc.
Instead of imposing a higher tax burden on a lower base (number of corporates), thereby further burdening them in profitability sustainability, I propose reducing the corporate rate and expanding the base (number of eligible taxpayers). The differentiated corporate tax rates for different categories of corporates is reasonable, so the progressive tax rate, as already in law, has to be revisited and updated to consider new developments and perspectives, which is not being done.
Governance in tax management is a must which we need to improve significantly. However, the losses due to weak governance framework and lower tax mobilizations are tried to be covered up through higher tax rates, which adversely may promote tax avoidance. Moreover, higher tax rates also divert investments in lower tax rate destinations. So, I think it should be addressed immediately to reform the tax framework and tax management system. The management of professional accountants like cost management accountants and chartered accountants in tax reform, policy and administration may facilitate improvement in the tax government.
Mr. Kamruzzaman, how would you define your long and bright professional life?
Now I am leading the Operations Division at LankaBangla Finance Limited, which deals with company’s all the clients, both in the asset and liability side, for all business segments. The scope of the job covers managing corporate, retail, and SME start the relationship with the clients immediately after approval/ initiation of credit or deposit relationship until separation through credit documentation, disbursement, post disbursement customer servicing, monitoring, collection & recovery, and reinforcement of relationship through repeat business or break.
Being an active member of the Management Credit Committee has also given me immense opportunities to understand better, analyze, and manage customer, business, industry, and economic dynamics.
From 2009 I have been keading credit administration, which subsequently expanded to the Operations Division, which now oversees the company’s total operations. The scope includes credit documentation, disbursements, administration and settlements, recovery and monitoring of impaired assets of all business segments (i.e., corporate, retail, SME), deposit administration, treasury back office management, transactions management, customers’ information, and documents and litigation management.
Over my 15 years’ tenure in financing business in corporate, retail & SME segments through LankaBangla, now being a market leader, I have developed a strong network with the company, business regulatory, and political community. Moreover, I belong to two prestigious professional institutions of the country, The Institute of Business Administration (IBA) of Dhaka University and The Institute of Cost & Management Accountants of Bangladesh (ICMAB), the products of which are leading most of the business enterprises of the country as well as various regulatory bodies and government organizations. All these connections have helped me build a strong network which has been helping me and my company in doing business.
In addition to that, I am an elected Council Member, currently holding the office as Secretary, in the National Council of the Institute of Cost & Management Accountants of Bangladesh (ICMAB), a leading professional body of the country. Earlier, for four consecutive years from 2015-2018, I served as an elected member and, in 2018, as the elected Chairman of the Dhaka Branch Council (DBC) of ICMAB. These engagements also helped me grow as a community leader and build a robust professional network.
We are attentive to know the influence or inspiration that shaped you and contributed to becoming the person you are today?
We are five siblings, four brothers, and one sister, in our family. Somehow or for some reason, I had more muscular bondage with my mother than other siblings. So, in my personality type, my mother has a strong influence. Moreover, many of my father’s personality traits are also evident in my personality as I observe genetics.
The family values have embedded a strong sense of bondage within us, which primarily influences and inspires my emotional state. However, we went through adversities when my father, who was a CXO level employee in the jute industry, became jobless due to the closure, decline of the industry, and the experiences during the time reshaped my personality to some extent.
And, as you know, when we go through real-life, different significant events and experiences also reshape our inspirations. Briefly speaking, it’s a blend of family background, education, and real-life experiences. So, no powerful lone trigger may be attributed to where I am today. But one thing is very prominent in my life now, I feel good to do good for the people around me, and this trait has a strong influence in my endeavors, which I believe, will continue to guide my future as well.
Please say something to the readers!
We must enjoy our life without harming our society and environment. In our quest for success, which is mostly defined in many terms, like money, power, popularity, recognition, etc., we lose our lifetime, and at one stage, we realize that all our life, the time and the way we passed, isn’t worthy of life.
Keeping in mind that I reshaped my life purpose; the bigger goal encompasses happiness, mindfulness, healthiness, and enjoyment to be shared with the near and dear ones, the people around me, without giving too much and exhaustive life efforts on the so-called terms of successes as I mentioned above. We can optimistically fulfill both if we can ensure the best fit of our ways of earning a livelihood and our mindfulness. That’s the lesson I want to share with people.
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