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Fil C. Sionil

Fil C. Sionil

As a golfer and a tennis player, for Mr. Sanjiv Vohra the Philippines is a sweet spot in his banking career spanning more than three decades. His love affair with the country started almost 33 years ago. Six months after the 1986 EDSA revolution, he along with two other new recruits from New Delhi, India, joined 17 others for a month-long Citibank management training here. This was in August, 1986.

His development into a seasoned banker took him to many cities in the world. He moved, as bankers often do, from one financial institution to another. But his liaison with the Philippine market stood the test of time. He renewed his presence in the local banking industry in 2005, this time as Citibank ‘s country head for the Philippines and Guam. The assignment ended 2013. He moved to another foreign institution, then in 2017 became MUFG (Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc.) managing director and co-head of investment banking for Asia and Oceania. Singapore based, his long-arm supervision included the Philippines.

“My stint with the MUFG allowed me to reconnect with the Philippine market, again. And, of course Security Bank,” he said.

The first ever foreigner appointed to steer a domestic lender, it feels like a homecoming to him. From my conversion with him, I could sense that Mr. Sanjiv has already been Filipinized. He swears he loves our forever comfort food chicken adobo, “kare-kare,” and mutton kaldereta. He, however, never ever dared try “balut.” And like most of us, he’s into basketball. It’s not only a sports he loves, it’s game that bonds him with his 15-year-old daughter Mishaa. “It’s the hospitality… the warmth of the people.”

He is no stranger to the local market as his Citibank stint here lasted seven and a half years and he developed close relationship with clients and friendship with colleagues from other financial institutions. “I enjoyed my stay,” he said.

In May, at 57, he was ready to join the growing retiree group. Then, came the offer to take over from Mr. Alfonso “Yogi” Salcedo. Now, he’s back again, assuming the post of president and chief executive officer of Security Bank.

“There’s a big difference,” was his response when asked to compare shepherding a foreign and a local bank. At Citibank, any big decisions – projects and programs – are held in abeyance until the stamp of approval has been obtained either from the regional office or the headquarters in New York. The working environment is altogether different. “It will be quicker to discuss and obtain approvals from the board and the management.”

Mr. Sanjiv is tight-lipped on what he has in mind to level-up further Security Bank’s foothold in the market. I have yet to meet with other officers in the management team.” He promised we’d meet again sometime in the near future for development updates.

An afterthought: Where was Mr. Sanjiv when he left the Philippines from 2013 to 2017? He moved from Citibank to Deutsche Bank leading its corporate banking business, covering 15 economies in the Asia Pacific region. Would this mean recently retired Deutsche Philippines country head Mr. Eric Cruz is not far off from joining Security Bank’s board as independent director?
Let’s see how the banking wheel turns. In meantime, welcome back Mr. Sanjiv.

Talkback to me at sionil731@gmail.com

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