The Banker, a publication of the Financial Times Group in London, has chosen Nabil Bank as the bank of the year country award for Nepal. There were 133 banks from around the world that had participated in the initial round of the competition.
The Banker, which has been published since 1926, shortlists the number of participants from each country every year. HSBC won the global award and in India, ICICI was voted the Indian bank of the year.
Nabil's ecstatic general manager, Anil Shah (pictured below) thinks the main reason his bank was conferred the honour could have been its balance sheet. "The other reasons that may have impressed the panel of judges was our investment in new technology, which shows our commitment to Nepal and our human resource management," explains Shah.
There were five banks from Nepal that had been asked to apply for the final selection process for the award. This is the third year since the Nepal award was introduced. In 2002, Standard Chartered Bank won the award and last year it was Nepal Investment Bank. Nabil got it this year, as it celebrates its 20th anniversary.
Nabil pioneered the first joint venture bank in Nepal, and two decades down the line there are 16 other banks in the country. Shah says competition is all right, as long as it does not trigger an unhealthy trend. "At a time when the economy is stagnant, if not shrinking, we have more and more banks and financial institutions," he says. "We are beginning to see sparks of unhealthy competition that could affect the entire industry."
So, why doesn't the Bankers' Association regulate itself? "The Nepal Bankers' Association is not a cartel," explains Shah. "If there is a cartel, the customers will be the first to lose and in the long run the banking industry will lose."
Shah says the Nepal Rastra Bank does internal ratings of the bank. "I think they should make this rating public knowledge. Right now the customers are in the dark and have no proper idea how the financial market is behaving."