BANK of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (BTMU) is gaining market share in transaction banking and adding to the team in Singapore even as growth and trade flows slow in the region.
On Monday, Japan's largest lender said it has added four new hires to its Asia and Oceania banking transaction team based in Singapore, boosting it to about 70 strong.
"This is part of the bank's strategic intent to further expand its transaction banking business in this region," said BTMU.
The four are Azim S Walli, who will head the trade and supply chain finance products; Meetu Singh, head of global corporate sales; Sudhamsh Cheekoty, senior vice-president who reports to Mr Walli; and Paul van Sint Fiet, also senior vice-president reporting to Ms Singh.
The bank has been building its transaction banking business globally for more than five years and this push gained traction when the Asia and Oceania team was set up in May 2012.
"We have made great inroads in building our business, especially over the last two years, in which we rolled out many new product solutions and delivery channels," said Ken Stratton, BTMU regional head of transaction banking sales, transaction banking office for Asia & Oceania.
"We are gaining market share and I believe with the expertise of Azim, Meetu, Sudhamsh and Paul, who have a combined close to 75 years of experience in transaction banking across the globe, we will be in a position to leapfrog our competitors to become the preferred transaction banking partner for both Japanese and global corporates by 2020," said Mr Stratton.
The market share increase amid slower growth is due to the retreat of some global banks from Asia as their appetite for risks shrinks as markets get more volatile, he said.
"Over the last three years or so, we have seen some of the large global banks pull back on traditional and trade lending as they encounter challenges in their home markets, especially in the US and Europe," he said.
"A number of major trade finance banks have also trimmed their trade loan books as commodity companies go through challenges resulting from price reductions in their core commodities, significantly reduced margins and market volatility (currencies and interest rates)," said Mr Stratton. "In addition, reduced shipments to China have seen margin compression in areas such as country and bank risk pricing."
"We have taken this as an opportunity to press home with our increased trade capabilities developed over the last three years or so, and used the 'pull back' as an expansion opportunity," he said. "We have always provided significant lending support to our clients, in good times and bad. Now is the time to show our further commitment to our client base, through the provision of our new transaction banking product capabilities across our global network, and it is paying off."
The bank's trade finance revenues have increased by close to 60 per cent annually over the past two years, BTMU said. Transaction banking's gross profit has also increased by more than 10 per cent compound annual growth rate in the past three years.
In the Asia and Oceania region, BTMU is in 14 key markets with 33 offices and close to 4,000 employees serving largely corporate and institutional clients. Singapore is the headquarters for South Asia, South-east Asia (ex-Thailand) and the Oceania region since July 2013, while the headquarters for East Asia including China is located in Japan.