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Ketan Morjaria Reflects On 50 Years of I&M Bank Uganda’s Growth And Innovation

Ketan Morjaria is the founder of Orient Bank and a continuing shareholder at I&M Bnak

As I&M Bank Uganda commemorates its 50th anniversary on June 28th, Non-Executive Director Ketan Morjaria celebrates the bank’s impressive evolution, highlighting some of the milestones that have positioned it as an esteemed and dynamic entity in the industry.

In April 2021, Uganda’s Orient Bank shareholders approved a majority acquisition and merger with Kenyan-headquartered I&M Group Plc, fulfilling I&M’s vision as East Africa’s premier financial partner for growth. This strategic move was preceded by Bank of Uganda’s 2011 regulations mandating diversified ownership in financial institutions, prompting Morjaria to seek a partner aligned with the bank’s values. I&M Bank stood out for its dedication to stakeholder respect, customer fairness, and ongoing innovation, making it the ideal choice.

Morjaria, the founder of Orient Bank and a continuing shareholder at I&M, saw this integration as a natural progression that aligned perfectly with I&M Group’s unwavering commitment to expanding its presence and enhancing its influence across the region, thereby solidifying their position as one of the leading financial institutions in East Africa.

“Given I&M Bank and Orient Bank’s shared commitment to delivering contemporary banking services founded on trust, the alignment was natural. With I&M Group Plc’s strategic ambitions to expand across East Africa, the merger presented an ideal chance to collaborate, extend their footprint into the Ugandan market, and harness their strengths to uphold our mission of providing accessible banking solutions, particularly for local entrepreneurs and the SME business community,” Morjaria highlighted.

From the beginning, Morjaria recognized the need for a customer-centric banking approach. He saw an opportunity to establish a bank that would prioritize fairness and flexibility, offering an alternative to the rigid financial institutions that dominated the market at the time. Both Orient Bank and now I&M Bank have upheld these values.

“As a chartered accountant, I identified a gap in the market and decided to take the leap,” Morjaria explains. “We established a bank with a clear vision: to put customer needs first and create a trustworthy institution.”

In the early days, attracting customers posed a significant challenge as people were hesitant to entrust their money to banks, requiring industry players to work diligently to earn their trust. “We focused relentlessly on building a solid reputation for fairness, continuous innovation, and unwavering trustworthiness, which proved essential in establishing our place in the market,” Morjaria recalls.

Morjaria highlights the bank’s evolution amidst the backdrop of the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, which reverberated through the international banking sector. The crisis prompted tightened banking regulations, enhanced due diligence, and Know Your Customer (KYC) compliance for anti-money laundering purposes, necessitating banks worldwide to implement new compliance systems and procedures while bolstering core capital to ensure financial stability. The bank’s ability to adapt to these developments has been instrumental in its ongoing operations.

Morjaria acknowledges the transformative impact of technological advancements to the banking industry, recognizing both the opportunities they bring for customer convenience and operational efficiency, as well as the challenges such as cybersecurity and the need for continuous adaptation.

“As the bank prioritised digitisation as a core strategic pillar, this brought with it, new and evolving threats, particularly in the cyber security space. Criminals were becoming more sophisticated in their approach, and this led to a large increase in digital fraud. Orient Bank (now I&M Bank), once again quickly adapted by investing heavily in cyber security and procuring world-class international systems such as firewalls and new 24/7 digital monitoring capabilities to curb this threat,” he stated.

Looking to the future, Morjaria envisions I&M Bank continuing its legacy for another 50 years and beyond, maintaining its core values while innovating to meet evolving customer needs. He expresses pride in witnessing the growth and flourishing of the seed they sowed, emphasizing their dedication to serving customers with excellence and fairness.

“Our priority is to grow the bank’s market share with the vision of becoming a top 5 bank in Uganda over the next decade. To achieve this, we believe continued investment in digital services will be critical as our belief is more customers will demand convenience baking in the coming years,” Ketan noted.

Morjaria extends his appreciation to the customers, employees, and regulators whose support and collaboration have been fundamental to I&M Bank’s 50-year journey. Their trust, dedication, and guidance have been instrumental in shaping the bank’s success and commitment to excellence in the region’s financial sector.

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