This August, EastWest (EW) celebrates 25 years of banking excellence and undeniable growth in the industry. Despite being relatively young in the Philippine banking industry, the bank achieved such a milestone through the relentless and ambitious pursuit to serve the Filipino customer the best way it can.
Today, EastWest is one of the country’s largest universal banks, largely due to its strong consumer focus and strategic acquisitions. In 2004, the bank set out to grow beyond its limits, transforming itself from a traditional commercial bank into today’s fast-growing consumer-focused bank—and a huge part of its success in only 25 years is the support it gets from its parent company, the Filinvest Development Corporation (FDC).
“EastWest blossomed through its own merits over this past decade and a half—there’s no question about that. But it was the optimistic and nurturing backing of FDC that gave the bank the foundation it needed to build itself up,” said EastWest CEO and Vice Chairman Antonio C. Moncupa.
History shows that Andrew Gotianun, Sr., the family patriarch and FDC’s founder and chairman emeritus, took a keen interest in EastWest’s performance that time.
“Let us pay more attention to our banking business. It is such a waste not to. We should really differentiate ourselves from the top-tier banks so that we will have a chance to compete with them and grow,” Gotianun says in their book Useless Each Without the Other: Enduring Love That Built Filinvest. “Among other things, we should consider a move into consumer banking.”
EastWest’s heavy emphasis on the consumer stems from a long history of service excellence. It comes all the way from the bank’s predecessor in the 1970s, the FDC-owned Family Savings Bank. Family Savings set a new standard in its time with innovations such as daily interest rates and a low minimum balance for deposit accounts, among others.
Becoming a consumer-focused bank would also require the help of many key acquisitions over the years to expand its network and capabilities along the way.
EastWest’s first such acquisition was its 2003 purchase of Ecology Savings Bank, which allowed it to expand its store network significantly. The 2008 financial crisis also presented the bank a good opportunity to acquire the American International Group (AIG) Philam Savings Bank in 2009, which ballooned its auto loans and credit card portfolios. It also entered the rural bank industry with its purchase of Green Bank of CARAGA in 2011 and Finman Rural Bank of Pasig in 2012.
Moreover, the bank got into bancassurance through EastWest Ageas Life, its partnership with Belgian insurance company Ageas Group. This 50-50 joint venture resulted in the Troo brand in 2016, expanding its already wide variety of product offerings with the addition of life and investment-related insurance.
Perhaps EastWest’s biggest acquisition yet was its purchase of Standard Chartered Bank Philippines’ complete retail banking operations in 2016, adding another facet of customer service excellence to the bank. It absorbed Standard Chartered’s wealth management services (now known as EastWest Priority) and launched two new credit cards geared toward the high-value Priority clientele.
All of these strategic long-term moves would eventually pay off for EastWest, as the growth that the bank experienced in over two and a half decades is nothing short of remarkable—and unstoppable. It has brought the bank not only vast expansion, but also numerous accolades and recognition, proving true its commitment to serving the consumer well and being excellent beyond its years.
As of its 25th year, EastWest has over 500 stores nationwide, and it continues to make huge strides in the industry. This year alone, it boasts of an acquisition of the Philippine Bank of Communications’ (PBCOM) auto loan portfolio, top recognitions in the country at this year’s Asian Banking and Finance Awards, and a prestigious partnership with Singapore Airlines with the launch of the EastWest Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Mastercard.
As it looks to the future beyond its 25 young years, EastWest renews its promise of a strong consumer focus and more strategic moves to further its vision and goals.