Manuel G. Santiago Jr.: A Distinguished Leader Driving Growth & Innovation

Manuel G. Santiago Jr.: A Distinguished Leader Driving Growth & Innovation

Manuel G. Santiago Jr. , President

Manuel G. Santiago Jr.


The banking industry is constantly evolving and facing various challenges, such as economic fluctuations, regulatory changes, and technological advancements. Skilled leaders possess the ability to navigate through these complexities and steer their institutions towards sustainable growth and profitability. They possess a strategic vision, anticipate market trends, and make informed decisions that align with the long-term objectives of the bank. Effective leaders not only adapt to change but also drive innovation and embrace emerging technologies to improve operational efficiency and enhance customer experience. They inspire and empower employees to think creatively, challenge the status quo, and explore new avenues for growth. An accomplished professional, Manuel G. Santiago Jr.,President, City Savings Bank has over 40 years of experience in financial services, specializing in consumer lending, mass market finance, and banking operations. CEO Insights Asia indulged in an exclusive interaction with Manuel G. Santiago Jr., President, City Savings Bank where he shared his tips to success and how he sets the tone for the overall organizational growth and performance. Let’s dive to know more from him.

Could you please provide a brief overview of your professional journey?

Throughout my career spanning more than four decades in the financial services industry, I have accumulated extensive expertise in areas such as consumer lending, mass market finance, and banking operations. I began my professional journey at Citibank, which served as a valuable starting point for me to immerse myself in the world of banking and acquire essential experience and skills in consumer finance. Subsequently, I was sought after by American Express in the Philippines, where I assumed the role of Director of Operations before being entrusted with the same responsibility in Indonesia. Upon my return to the Philippines, I joined Union Bank of the Philippines and held various positions, overseeing diverse consumer finance businesses, including Credit Cards, Auto Loans, Home Loans, and Personal Loans. Eventually, I was appointed as the Chief Mass Market and Financial Inclusion Executive for the  Currently, I have the privilege of serving as the President of City Savings Bank, a prominent subsidiary of UnionBank. As one of the largest Thrift Banks in the Philippines, City Savings Bank holds a leading position in Teachers Loans and is also a key player in motorcycle loans. Additionally, I hold the position of Chairman of the Board at PETNET, a premier urgent transaction center operating across the country, offering customers a comprehensive range of financial services. Furthermore, I serve as a Director of Banko Kabayan, a private development bank dedicated to providing services to Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises.

Please provide details about your academic background and how the knowledge gained during your university studies has benefited you throughout your professional journey.

The principles of Competence, Commitment, and Compassion instilled by my university have served as the bedrock for my career progression. I firmly believe that becoming a leader requires continuous learning, fostering relationships, and embodying passion and resilience. Reflecting on my early days in the workforce, I recall dedicating long hours at the office, utilizing that time to acquire knowledge and enhance my understanding of the business landscape. Whenever I'm entrusted with a new objective, my first instinct is to ask myself ‘how?’ I actively seek to broaden my knowledge base, enabling me to devise comprehensive plans and execute them effectively. Along the way, I've encountered challenges, which I perceive as valuable learning opportunities. While academic experience provides a supportive foundation and serves as the starting point for a successful career, true growth transpires when navigating through real-world workplace obstacles. By embracing the lessons and values instilled during my university education, I've been able to continually enhance my professional journey. The combination of theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience has equipped me with the tools needed to tackle and overcome hurdles in the pursuit of success.

What are the key elements that contribute to City Savings Bank's continuous success in the banking services sector?

City Savings Bank has achieved consistent excellence in the banking services industry by adhering to its fundamental principle of ‘Simple is Good’. By providing clients with straightforward and easyto- understand banking solutions, combined with warm and supportive customer service, we ensure an exceptional banking experience. We also emphasize the importance of staying up-to-date with relevant products and embracing digital innovations to further enhance customer satisfaction. Our commitment to delivering exceptional and convenient customer service, along with our swift processing turnaround time, has earned us the trust and loyalty of our customers, making us their preferred banking partner. As a result, City Savings Bank has experienced significant growth, expanding our operations to over 140 branches and transitioning from a bank with a single product offering to a comprehensive financial institution that caters to a wide range of customer needs.

What factors are considered when formulating effective strategies for corporate growth?

Our approach begins by assessing the competitive environment and identifying potential opportunities. This analysis allows us to understand how we can effectively serve the market while staying true to our purpose, vision, mission, and values. Through our experiences, we have discovered that a primary concern for our target market is the accessibility of affordable credit during critical times. With a mission centered on serving Filipinos with limited resources, we aim to provide the underserved segment with the opportunity to access banking services. By doing so, we eliminate their reliance on informal lending sources that impose exorbitant interest rates. This approach aligns with our commitment to address the main pain point faced by our target market and ensures a more inclusive banking experience.

City Savings Bank Has Achieved Consistent Excellence In The Banking Services Industry By Adhering To Its Fundamental Principle Of ‘Simple Is Good’

How do you lead your team in extracting meaningful market insights to ensure City Savings Bank stays abreast of the latest trends?

In order to continually enhance our customers' experience, it is crucial for us to deeply engage with the market, identify their needs, and genuinely understand them. We prioritize keeping our team closely connected to the realities of the customer experience. I actively encourage our teams to directly interact with our clients, which we facilitate through event activations, multi-sectoral partnerships, and various sales and marketing initiatives. These engagements enable us to gather valuable insights directly from the market we serve. By immersing ourselves in these experiences, we can proactively stay attuned to the evolving needs and preferences of our customers, ensuring that City Savings Bank remains aligned with the latest trends and advancements.

What are your future aspirations and plans for the upcoming years?

My vision is to position City Savings Bank as the leading mass market bank in the country, excelling in the categories in which we operate. Our roadmap entails expanding our range of products and services, as well as targeting new customer segments. Throughout this journey, our strategy remains centered around delivering an exceptional customer experience. We will continue to prioritize innovation, striving to provide our cust omers with the best possible banking experience.

What are your expectations for the future market landscape, and what advice would you give to emerging leaders in this industry?

As City Savings Bank ventures into new customer segments, we anticipate substantial growth in both our scale and scope. Throughout this expansion, our commitment to serving our customers in a manner that aligns with our purpose of improving lives remains steadfast. This entails offering loans that provide individuals with the necessary financial resources to send their children to school, start their own businesses, or simply meet their basic needs for a comfortable life.

To budding leaders in this industry, I offer the following advice - Discover your purpose. When you have a clear understanding of your purpose, you will find joy in what you do. This enjoyment fuels your focus and determination to succeed in any endeavor you pursue. By staying true to your purpose and embracing it wholeheartedly, you `will be well-equipped to navigate the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead as a leader in this dynamic industry.

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