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Driving growth and inclusion: the transformation of Land Bank of the Philippines

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At the 5th FINEX General Membership Meeting, Ma. Lynette V. Ortiz, president and chief executive officer of Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK), delivered the keynote address that resonated deeply with FINEX’s 2024 theme of “Transformational Growth through Sustainability, Digitalization, and Diversity.” Invited to speak at this event, Ms. Ortiz highlighted the transformative journey of LANDBANK under her leadership, emphasizing the bank’s pivotal role in driving national development through innovative and inclusive financial strategies, and a change in the bank’s culture.

BALANCING PUBLIC MANDATES WITH FINANCIAL SUSTAINABILITYFrom the outset, her shift to a public sector role brought challenges and profound learning experiences. Unlike global banks focused on revenue and market expansion, LANDBANK’s core mission is deeply rooted in public interest, prioritizing financial inclusion, rural development, and support for underserved sectors such as agriculture and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). The challenge lies in balancing these socioeconomic goals with financial sustainability — a task that LANDBANK has embraced by consistently surpassing its financial targets while expanding its developmental impact.

The past year has seen LANDBANK achieve unprecedented financial milestones, including a record net income exceeding P40 billion, driven by robust growth in loans and investments. This financial strength has enabled the bank to be the largest lender to the agriculture, fisheries, and rural development sectors, with loans reaching over P716 billion. Additionally, LANDBANK has significantly supported MSMEs, providing P48.4 billion in loans to more than 6,000 borrowers.

LANDBANK’s commitment to financial inclusion is evident in its extensive reach across the Philippines. With a presence in 82 provinces and 1,439 cities and municipalities, the bank has adopted a “phygital” strategy, combining physical branches with digital channels to serve even the most remote areas. Programs like LANDBANKasama, which partners with local cooperatives and stores, extend banking services to underserved communities, ensuring no Filipino is left behind.

LANDBANK serves as a vital partner in various government initiatives. It efficiently disburses cash grants for social welfare, transportation, and agriculture programs, with recent remittances totaling P32.119 billion in cash dividends to the National Government, the highest in LANDBANK’s history.

These efforts support priority infrastructure projects and socioeconomic programs, demonstrating LANDBANK’s commitment to national development.

DRIVING DIGITAL TRANSFORMATIONDigital innovation is at the forefront of LANDBANK’s strategy, enhancing the accessibility and convenience of banking services. The bank’s digital platforms facilitated over 30.8 million transactions worth P1.95 trillion in the first quarter alone, reflecting a significant year-on-year growth of 31%. This digital push aligns with the government’s broader digitalization efforts, positioning LANDBANK as a key player in the nation’s economic infrastructure.

Ms. Ortiz emphasized the need for continuous adaptation and innovation in a rapidly changing environment, drawing inspiration from the words of R. Buckminster Fuller, an American architect, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor, and futurist: “You can never change things by fighting against the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the old model obsolete.”

LANDBANK’s new model begins with focusing on the diverse needs of its clients, supported by technology and increased collaboration both within the bank, and with its ecosystem of partners. This transformative strategy aims to cultivate a banking experience that is not only dynamic and responsive, but also ensures that its services remain pertinent and accessible to all.

Lynette also shared her plan to change the culture at LANDBANK to achieve its transformational goals. She advocates for a growth mindset and innovative approach, encouraging employees to embrace change and disrupt traditional ways of working. Ms. Ortiz promotes empowerment and distributed leadership, urging leaders to take control and accountability for the bank’s objectives. By fostering a culture of communication, collaboration, openness, and moving away from hierarchical structures, LANDBANK aims to become a more agile and client-centric organization. This vision includes transforming LANDBANK into a proactive, dynamic, and responsive institution, aligning with its mandate to serve the Filipino people effectively and efficiently.

A CALL FOR COLLABORATIONMs. Ortiz’s message was clear: business leaders and financial executives play a crucial role in steering the nation’s progress. By mobilizing capital, allocating resources, and fostering investments in key sectors, they can significantly contribute to economic growth and job creation. The evolving and dynamic LANDBANK invites the private sector to join in building a stronger, inclusive, and more resilient Philippines.

In conclusion, the transformational growth of LANDBANK is not just a testament to its leadership, but a call to action for all stakeholders. Together, through collaboration and innovation, we can uplift communities, drive economic development, and ensure a prosperous future for our nation.

The views and opinions expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Ayala Land, Inc., and FINEX

Augusto “Toti” D. Bengzon is the CFO, chief compliance officer & treasurer of Ayala Land, Inc., and the 2024 FINEX president.

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