Ihab Saadi

GENERAL MANAGER OF THE HOUSING BANK FOR TRADE AND FINANCE

Jordan 2016  I  Economy  I  Leader

BIOGRAPHY With extensive experience in investment banking, he served as the Chief Banking Officer at Housing Bank and Head of Corporate & Investment Banking. He is a Certified Public Accountant and holds a Master’s Degree in Financial Administration from the US. He has worked for Grant Thornton Chicago and Arthur Andersen in Amman and Dubai for several years.

GROWTH IS AN IMPORTANT FACTOR IN OUR AGENDA AND WE WILL CONTINUE TO INCREASE OUR MARKET SHARE IN THE DIFFERENT SEGMENTS IN WHICH WE ARE PRESENT.

CAN YOU GIVE US AN OVERVIEW OF HOUSING BANK?

The Housing Bank for Trade and Finance (HBTF) was established in 1973 as a specialized bank providing housing loans. Throughout the following 24 years, the bank continuously expanded its operations to become a fully-fledged commercial bank in 1997, which marked the beginning of a new era for the bank (as new Qatari, Kuwaiti, and Libyan shareholders came onboard). 

HBTF today stands at the helm of the Jordanian banking industry, with a market share of 15.2% in total assets and 15.9% in deposits providing Retail, Commercial, and Corporate Investment Banking services through the largest branch network in the country of 127 branches and the largest ATM network of 215.Additionally, HBTF has expanded regionally and internationally in Palestine, Bahrain, Syria, Algeria, and The United Kingdom further increasing the group’s coverage to 178 branches. 

AS THE NEWLY APPOINTED GENERAL MANAGER, WHAT ARE YOU FOCUSING ON?

I am focused on further expanding our retail banking operations in order to capture even more market share. Housing Bank was created as a retail bank and we still have the largest market share in the segment but there is room for improvement particularly in light of the country’s demographic which is mainly young. To that end, I aim at investing heavily in technology and training of our human resources to make sure we can offer the best and most innovative services in the market. To cite an example, we are currently preparing for mobile phone payments so as to be ready when this service becomes a reality in Jordan. This is also a part of being a leader; we have to invest in the changes and to lead by example.

 

Furthermore, I am placing emphasis on Corporate Investment Banking activities. HBTF’s position in the banking sector gives it a competitive advantage in this field as the bank is able to leverage on its liquidity, expertise, network, and international relations to facilitate financing of major projects in the country of which we have been very successful in leading multi hundreds of millions of dollars in syndicated project finance transactions. On the other hand, I am also focusing on advancing the compliance function at the bank to ensure that best practices are applied throughout the organization. It should be noted that HBTF has always been committed to applying the highest and most conservative measures in this field as we believe in the importance of safeguarding our institution and our clients. This is particularly true in light of the changing and difficult local and international environments we operate in today. 

CAN YOU ELABORATE ON YOUR 2015 RESULTS?

In 2015, HBTF earned a record JD 177 million in net income before tax (NIBT) on revenue of JD 462 million, up 9% from NIBT of JD 162 million in 2014. Our financial results reflect strong underlying performance across all our businesses, driven by strong lending and deposit growth. Total assets of the bank increased by 4.3% to reach JD 7.9 billion at the end of 2015. In addition customers’ deposits increased by 6.4% to reach JD 5.8 billion and net credit facilities increased by 29% to reach JD 3.5 billion. We maintained a solid balance sheet, HBTF ended 2015 with a Basel II capital adequacy ratio of 16.8%, while loans to deposits ratio stood at 60%, and non-performing loans declined to 4.8%. We continued to gain market share in key areas of our franchise. In addition we continued to support customers; in 2015, we provided more than JD 1.6 billion of new credit to both of our retail and corporate clients. 

HOW IS YOUR BANK CURRENTLY DEALING WITH THE PREVAILING INTEREST RATE ENVIRONMENT AND WHAT IS YOUR STRATEGY TO REACT TO ANY CHANGES?

HBTF local currency portfolio is actively managed by taking advantage of any changes in the JOD interest rates which reflect the trend of the USD interest rates and actions taken by the FED. Hence, our strategy is set to seize opportunities of the current environment characterized by higher level of interest rates and benefit from any potential further uplift while keeping an eye on the liability side represented by our clients’ deposits through comprehensive and continuous reviews in a way that achieves optimal and efficient asset-liability management. 

WHAT IS THE STRATEGIC PLAN FOR THE BANK WITHIN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?

As the General Manager of Housing Bank, I will continue to pursue the strategy I have contributed to setting within my capacity as part of the previous management by continuing to focus on profitability and through the expansion of our operations in a manner that is in line with our risk appetite. Our strategy is to continue expanding our operations in retail banking within the country, to focus on further developing our existing international operations, and additionally, we continue to aggressively pursue Corporate Investment Banking’s transactions; all of which while keeping an eye on regional developments. 

 

Finally, HBTF will maintain its commitment towards CSR, customer service, and innovation to safeguard its position as a leader in the Jordanian banking industry.