Vira-anong C Phutrakul
UOB’S RISING RETAIL STAR SHINES
Retail banking is a crucial aspect of a bank’s operations, providing essential financial services to individuals, generating revenue and contributing to economic growth.
One who is chosen to take the helm of a retail banking business must possess excellent leadership and strategic planning skills, prioritise customer satisfaction, and adapt to changing market conditions and customer needs.
Vira-Anong Chiranakhorn Phutrakul is a highly seasoned and accomplished professional who has taken on the role of Head of Retail and Brand at United Overseas Bank (Thai) Plc, known as UOB Thailand.
She is entrusted with driving retail growth in Thailand by ensuring that UOB’s brand values remain prominent and delivering a seamless transition to business operations.
Prior to joining UOB Thailand, Ms Vira-anong was the first Thai executive woman to be appointed as Consumer Business Manager at Citi Thailand’s Global Consumer Group. As Consumer Business Manager, she oversaw over one million customers with cards, credit lines, loans, and retail banking products and related services.
She began her career at Citibank in 1994 as a corporate finance specialist, and became head of Securities Services for Thailand in 1998, and for Hong Kong/China in 2000.
She returned to Bangkok in 2002 and assumed the role of Global Transaction Services Head, leading Cash Management, Trade Products, and Securities Services, as well as took charge as Coverage Head for Financial Institutions, Public Sector, Global Subsidiaries Groups and Commercial Banking until 2010.
As Ms Vira-Anong’s career has progressed, she has been given more opportunities to make an impact in the banking arena. She has achieved success in managing large teams of employees, reaching targets, building relationships with clients, and providing services that exceed expectations. Her extensive corporate transactions and consumer banking background set her up well for success as UOB Thailand’s Head of Retail and Brand.
Thanks to her contribution and exceptional achievements in recent years, Ms Vira-Anong was appointed to oversee UOB Thailand’s retail banking business following the UOB’s acquisition of Citibank’s retail banking businesses in Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand.
The sale of Citigroup’s Malaysia and Thailand consumer banking businesses to UOB subsidiaries was completed in last November. The integration doubles UOB Thailand’s total individual customer base to around 2.3 million.
“The retail banking industry is a really cutthroat environment that actually benefits customers with more options and newer digital-centric capabilities,” she says.
“At UOB, we believe that technology is an important factor for the future. Therefore, we are investing heavily, to the tune of 13 billion baht, to ensure that our digital banking platform and features are efficient, convenient, stable and secure.
“Our key mission is to bring our services to the next level. We aim to integrate our brand into the lives of our customers in the true sense, using data-driven analytics and insights from customers, to design offerings and marketing specially designed to meet the demands of different customers.”
In addition to maintaining existing business partners, the bank has been adding new partnerships both locally and internationally, including Michelin Guide, Shopee, Club21 and Singapore Airlines, to provide better services and privileges to customers.
Apart from the credit card business, the bank also plans to strengthen its wealth management, deposit and mortgage businesses, and cross sell suitable products under the integration.
UOB Thailand expects to double revenue from the retail banking business, in line with its goal of doubling growth in its customer base from the integration.
Ms Vira-Anong said the bank would expand the customer base to cover the younger generation, especially via UOB TMRW, its digital banking platform which can onboard new customers digitally.
With her expertise, Ms Vira-Anong looks to set a new standard for upholding UOB’s status among the most preferred banks in Thailand. Moreover, she manages to do it all despite a variety of competing priorities at play.
“As a woman leader, you have to be a good executive for your company, a good manager for your people, a good mentor for aspiring young talents, and a good daughter, wife and mother for your family. Therefore, it is important to have a strong support system, from your family to your managers to other professionals in your workplace.
“Furthermore, it is essential to have good self-care in order to stay strong physically and mentally to rise up to the everyday challenges,” she said.