EastWest puts employees at the heart of its business

East West Banking Corporation has proven to be a strong force in the Philippines’ financial sector. But this is not only for its expansive network and its broad reach in the country. It’s also for its commitment to the welfare of its most important asset – its people – and the effort it has put to fostering a culture that leads to its success.

As one of the Philippines’ largest universal banks, East West Banking Corporation has multiple customer touchpoints in the nation: a network of 468 branches and nearly 600 ATMs, as well as a top-notch mobile banking platform for individuals and businesses. And with some 7,250 full-time employees across the group, EastWest has realised one very important – and often elusive – thing: that to focus on the welfare of its employees is not only the right thing to do, but it also makes good business sense.

Given women comprise 66% of EastWest’s total workforce – including nearly half of its board of directors and a third of its senior leaders – it’s only fitting that the bank throws its support behind an essential campaign: raising awareness on the detection and prevention of breast cancer, which affects three in every 100 women in the Philippines.

In partnership with the Philippine Foundation for Breast Care Inc, EastWest launched its first Magenta Race in 2022. The race – which was built as a virtual run, walk or cycling for breast cancer – was given the darker magenta tag as opposed to the standard light pink colour associated with breast cancer to reflect the bank’s deeper commitment to the cause.

The Magenta Race was a success. Thanks to the participation of 145 employees, EastWest was able to raise roughly Php380,000, all of which was donated to the breast care foundation and earmarked to provide free mammograms and ultrasound check-ups.

That was just one way by which EastWest – which is a subsidiary of banking-to-real estate conglomerate Filinvest Development Corporation – decided to champion breast cancer awareness as part of its corporate social responsibility. It also partnered with MediCard to educate employees about breast cancer and its prevention, and held webinars aimed at answering queries about the disease. It additionally conducted a month-long series of breast health check[1]ups for all its employees across the bank’s corporate centres and select stores as part of its health and wellness programme.

Unsurprisingly, EastWest was given the Best CSR Initiative award by The Digital Banker in its 2023 Global Retail Banking Innovation Awards.

EMPLOYEE EXCELLENCE

Away from breast cancer awareness, EastWest’s internal employee initiatives are solid. Employee promotions are based on job content, scope and the candidate’s calibre, and emphasise equal opportunity and career advancements based on performance, not gender or other bias-related factors.

Competitive salaries and benefit packages, continuous investments into talent development, succession planning to ensure talented employees can advance to new and important roles and zero tolerance for discrimination and corruption are all in sharp focus at EastWest.

This meant that in 2022, EastWest made 777 promotions – equal to 13% of its workforce – conducted over 364,000 hours of training and welcomed 71 graduates from the retail banking development programme and seven from the corporate banking group’s account officer development programme.

It also onboarded 33 senior officers, added a psychological test as part of its applicant evaluation tool and boosted the use of job boards like LinkedIn and Jobstreet to attract the best and most diverse talent possible to its workforce.

EastWest’s belief that taking care of its employees also makes good business sense is reflected in its performance. The Bank’s net income rose 2.4% year[1]on-year to Php4.6 billion in 2022, while its asset base jumped 4.1% to Php421.3 billion. EastWest’s cost[1]to-income ratio was lower at 60.2% in 2022 versus 61.2% the year before. In line with its objective to be the consumer bank of choice in the Philippines, EastWest’s credit card receivables soared 24% in 2022 and it deployed 73% of its total loans to the consumer segment.

CHARTING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE

Like many of its peers in the Philippines and globally, EastWest has made the economic, environmental, social and governance (EESG) elements of its operations an important focus area.

The Bank identifies and addresses potential risks in its business and carries out initiatives with a positive impact on its stakeholders, on the environment, and on society. As part of that – and in collaboration with parent Filinvest – EastWest put in place a new sustainability framework in 2023 to provide the maximum EESG impact to its business operations.

Whether it’s ensuring taxes are paid on time and EastWest is creating new jobs, or environment housekeeping and compliance, or customer health and well-being, or risk management and maintaining good business ethics, EastWest covers a wide ground on its EESG ambition.

The firm has also realised that trust is core in banking, whether it’s trust within internal employees and stakeholders or retail customers and businesses. To ensure full transparency, EastWest has a strict corporate governance code in place, ensures consistent shareholder communication and keeps a close eye on the operations of the audit committee, anti-money laundering checks and insider trading concerns.

BOOSTING DIGITAL OFFERINGS

Then there is the core banking business that EastWest excels in. As a leading universal bank in the Southeast Asian country, the firm offers a comprehensive suite of services including savings accounts, a range of credit cards and auto loans, home loans and personal loans.

The credit card solution has gained particular heft. In the wake of the global pandemic, EastWest relaunched the EastWest Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Mastercard credit card in November 2022, in time to ride the resurgence in travel. The card offers users miles on their spending, airport lounge access and low foreign currency conversion fees of 1.70% – all of which have proved a hit with customers.

It bolstered its proposition further with the milestone launch in 2023 of EastWest Pay, the first-in-market in-store mobile payment application powered by EastWest Visa credit cards. The cutting-edge platform ensures secure and hassle-free transactions through Android devices, redefining convenience and safety for customers.

As EastWest continues to boost its digital offerings and scales up its business further in the Philippines, there’s no question that its employees will remain a core part of its success story. This will make the bank a real trailblazer as it proves that a commitment to employee welfare can bring numerous benefits – financial success and a strong brand image, but also importantly, a legacy built on principles and long-term positive impact.

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