Marwan Kheireddine explains why transparency in business is more important than ever — ESBO
“If you’re working hard and you are being transparent, the market ultimately will determine that you are a good institution,” Kheireddine says. “And if you’re offering products that are transparent, ultimately, the market will realise that your products are superior. So essentially if you offer products with a good price-quality ratio, you will have return clients who are happy.”
Kheireddine is old-school when it comes to giving his customers quality products and personalised service. While technology continues to flourish at AM Bank, he says transparency was always a pillar of its culture. Kheireddine says AM Bank has always maintained a commitment to integrity, honesty, and transparency, and protecting customers has always been a prime priority for his bank. It’s a move he says he feels has strengthened market confidence in AM Bank and resulted in sustainable growth.
In 2017, AM Bank was one of a handful of financial institutions in Lebanon to sign the Investors for Governance & Integrity Declaration. The document encourages corporate governance and international ethical practices, according to ambank.com.
Marwan Kheireddine: Business owners should forego fast money
“In my opinion, one should always forgo the quick buck for long-term profitability,” Kheireddine says. “So go for a lower margin that is repeatable over time, as opposed to making a quick buck once. A quick buck once will not repeat itself.”
He references part of the iconic quote often attributed to Abraham Lincoln: “[I refer to] the famous classic example, you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time,” Kheireddine points out.
Transparency has been at the forefront of AM Bank’s customer service initiatives through the Covid-19 pandemic. According to ambank.com, top safety measures have been taken. Kheireddine says they implemented delivery banking services to avoid overcrowding at AM Bank branches. “We’re trying to serve our large clients by sending tellers to them,” he says. “We’re sending each teller with a handheld device with cash and they would go and transact at the location of that client. So we take appointments and we are visiting our clients instead of having our clients come and visit us.”
Kheireddine says AM Bank, established in 1980, has long been a financial institution rooted in trust. He’s also proud to have a flat organisational structure at AM bank where clients can easily access senior management.
Kheireddine says positive thinking is a part of his business model
“A company is as successful as its culture,” he says. “And we have created a culture at the bank where we are all positive thinking.”
COO and AM Bank general manager Dr. Nahla Khaddage Bou-Diab says in addition to maintaining strong communication with customers, “transparency is the key foundation of our compliance structure.”
Bou-Diab adds that transparency not only reinforces trust but it sparks innovation.
In addition to transparency, AM Bank has been instrumental in empowering women in the Arabic banking sector. “We are tackling women empowerment by focusing on the need for diversity in organisations therefore the end result will be women empowerment,” Bou-Diab told International Banker during a video interview. “At banks in the Middle East, we lack women [who are] managers at the senior level. Our focus is to give women the opportunities to work at senior-level management [positions] in banks in the Arab world.”
Bou-Diab says AM Bank encourages the importance of ongoing learning and empathy. “If your mind is constantly learning, you see what is happening in the global environment and you can gear your organisation toward the future,” Bou-Diab told International Banker. “But you have to have empathy to be able to pass that on to your team. Those are two fundamental characteristics leaders must have in this era.”
AM Bank remains aligned with ethics
Bou-Diab, who works closely with Kheireddine, is proud of the resilient culture AM Bank has created and is proud to be part of a family-owned business that cares about the values of its organisation.
“The greatest success is the culture we have created, and our biggest challenge is also the culture we have created,” Bou-Diab says. “We established a culture inside the bank that is in a way different than the social culture that dominates the country. You’re teaching people about a new culture they don’t experience when they leave the bank.”
Through AM Bank’s commitment to transparency, Bou-Diab says she hopes to inspire other institutions within the Arab world to adopt some of the leadership styles the bank has implemented.
“Transparency pays,” Kheireddine reiterates. “Perseverance pays. Honesty pays. Ego is the enemy of everything in life.”