Thrift banks expect 15% loan growth this year
MANILA, Philippines - Thrift banks see a sustained growth in loans this year amid an upbeat economy, industry officials said on Wednesday.
"[Loan growth was] about 15% last year... I think for this year, it should be sustainable," Jose Teodoro K. Limcaoco, president of the Chamber of Thrift Banks, said in a briefing.
Limcaoco stressed that because of the country's stellar economic performance, Filipinos have become more optimistic in pursuing business expansions and the like.
Thus, this "downright optimism" has pushed many businessmen, especially those owning small and medium enterprises, to tackle growth plans this year and this is where thrift banks come in.
"While the Chamber comprise of small lenders, our reach goes across the country. We're really hopeful the Chamber can do its share in helping the economy," Limcaoco said.
Data from the central bank showed lending by thrift banks as of June 2012 were mostly used for real estate (33.7%), followed by consumer or personal loans (24%), and financial intermediation (15.5%).
Limcaoco said bulk of the loan growth this year will still be driven by lending to finance housing construction and projects.
"Real estate will be very strong in the provincial areas," he noted.
Thrift banks, while smaller than universal and commercial banks, are focused on providing funds to micro, small and medium scale enterprises.
As of end-2012, there are 70 thrift banks in the country with 1,557 branches nationwide.
The industry faces stiff competition from big banks expanding their reach to the provinces but Limcaoco said the thrift banks' "more localized" operations provide them an edge over the universal and commercial banks.
Moreover, he said "thrift banks meet this challenge by upgrading [people] skills and technology."
Limcaoco admitted that there are some talks within the industry of consolidation with bigger banks or among themselves.
He noted however that some talks are not necessarily for mergers but for "alliances" in improving products to customers.
The Chamber of Thrift Banks is set to hold its annual convention on March 20 at the Dusit Thani Manila in Makati City. Speakers include Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando M. Tetangco, Jr., Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio A. Abaya, and Bank of the Philippine Islands President Aurelio R. Montinola III.