BDO Named Best Bank in the Philippines

BDO Unibank Inc., Banco De Oro,  has been named the Best Bank in the Philippines by FinanceAsia for the fourth consecutive year according to a report on PhilSTAR.com.  BDO is the main banking unit of the SM Group. 

BDO tellers(Photo Source: bdo.com.ph)

FinanceAsia noted BDO’s ability to stay ahead the competition in terms of it's strong business franchise, low-cost funding, quality assets and extensive distribution network.

“It has also diversified its business, expanding into consumer lending and middle-market businesses to complement its strength in corporate banking,” FinanceAsia added.

BDO’s wholly-owned subsidiary,  BDO Capital and Investment Corp.,  was likewise recognized by FinanceAsia as the country’s Best Investment Bank and Best Equity House.

The international publication said BDO’s investment arm has established itself as the market-leading investment bank in the Philippines.

“It is helped by the pedigree of its parent companies – BDO Unibank and SM Investments. These relationships certainly make deal origination easier. But BDO Capital has plenty of pedigree in its own right and is the partner of choice for many international banks doing business in the Philippines,” it said.

In 2012, the bank’s net income stood at P14.3 billion, 36 percent more than the P10.5 billion profit in 2011 and higher than its P12.5 billion earnings guidance.

The first quarter income growth was driven by continuing expansion in loan portfolio and increase in deposits.

BDO Remittance Services

(Photo Source: bdo.com.ph)

Gross customer loans expanded 16 percent while total deposits increased nine percent, leading to a 14 percent increase in net interest income to P9.6 billion.

For 2013, the bank expects its net interest income to grow 12 percent to P40.5 billion from 2012’s P36.2 billion while non-interest income is seen to expand 28 percent to P31.2 billion from P24.4 billion in 2012.

With these, BDO sees its gross operating income for 2013 to increase 18 percent to P71.7 billion from the 2012 level of P60.6 billion.

As mentioned in a previous article regarding Philippines banking systems, I noted my asawa and I do business with BDO and have been very happy with the service we've received. The staff are always friendly, helpful and professional. Good to hear that they've been rated the best bank in the Philippines.  Everyone has their favorite bank, of course. BPI has received some positive feedback in my earlier post. 

I've also read information from other expats in the Philippines which give high marks to China Bank and Metrobank. Developing a good relationship with your bank management and staff could prove beneficial in helping you with your financial needs.  Networking in the PHL is just as essential as networking  was back in the States. The tellers at our local bank know me by name and greet me as I walk in the door. That's good customer service, in my books. 

 

40 comments

  1. I like BDO, but they’ve got problems. Their ATMs are working about half the time. Under maintenance, offline or just fact out not work.

    Additionally their online banking is lacking. Adding load, for instance, often leaves you without load & the peso. So you need to call in for an adjustment, but you still don’t have the load. They’ve set up a OTP that is clumsy and also broken. To the point where I was locked out if my account.

    They are friendly, and relatively speaking, the somewhat efficient.

    They go have lots of branches, but certain transactions can only be performed at your branch. Others require a fee if performed at a branch other than where you set up your account.

    1. Thanks for the input, Randy C. We did have problems with our ATM in Iloilo, and at one of the ATMs we had used in the past. From >GMA News online: “Security guards from the SM City Mall in Iloilo City caught the three foreigners stealing money from a Banco de Oro ATM using a skimming device—a device attached to an ATM’s card entry slot to capture data from customers’ cards.”

      The scammers have since jumped bail and are nowhere to be found. My wife can barely access the new security safeguards on the ATMS now and finds it very difficult to use them. BDO also wants to charge me five US dollars for each Social Security direct deposit when I start collecting SS next year. I said “no, thanks,” my bank in the States charges me nothing.

    1. I used to have a debit card from my bank in the States, PapaDuck, and told them ahead of time that I would be using it in the Philippines. It worked fine. Don’t know if BDO in the Philippines could have done the same for her card when she visited the States.

  2. Good to know Dave.
    I use 3 different banks here, 2 are small local ones and one is a very large credit union, I use it mainly. I know there are Bank of America’s there, but are there any other US banks with branches there, that you know of, and would the same FDIC insurance laws apply there, or would local insurance caps be applied there, even if its an International bank, with home office in the states. Just curious about that.

    I once had an account at Bank of America, but as a bank, I hated it, with all the rules and charges for practically everything. At one point they even tried to charge to speak to a live teller if you went inside, but the backlash from that made them drop that brilliant idea, that’s when I said adios to them, but now with a move to the Philippines on the horizon one day, would like to find an international bank if possible.

    1. Would the same FDIC insurance laws apply, Bill S, in the Philippines as it would with the same sister bank in the States? That’s a good question. Personally, I don’t think the local insurance caps would be applied in the Philippines but I honestly don’t know. Might want to check with the bank you plan to do this with and hope they give you the right answer. I would ask to see something in writing.

      We were told initially at BDO that we could wire transfer our money from America to BDO if we opened an account with them. But our bank in America advised us we could not do that. We’ll be investigating on writing checks that will clear in a week such as Rease mentioned in a previous remark.

  3. I use BPI and love it. Great service. They do charge $6.00 to have my SS check deposited here in Tagum City. Before that I wrote checks on my bank in the USA. Took about 25 days for the check to clear and there was no charge by the bank to do that. Also no extra charge to use a BPI branch in another city. Many banks here in the Philippines do charge extra fees if you use other branches other than the bank you opened your account in.

    Why do they charge a fee to have your SSA check deposited here in the Philippines? Easy… Social Security will not deposit you check into a bank outside the United States. Your Philippine bank will use a bank in the USA and have your money sent to them.

    Using a international bank? There is no such thing here. It might have the same name but it is not the same bank. The law here does not allow that. It will be a Philippine bank and it will be run under Philippine banking laws.

    Remember then deposit insurance law is very different here. No matter how many accounts you have here the insurance covers only ONE person. A married couple by law is ONE person.

    1. Thanks for the information, Gary, very useful. I’ve heard a lot of good things about BPI. I use a different BDO branch in Iloilo now and fortunately they also don’t charge me extra. Used to deal with the BDO branch at SM City in Iloilo but way too crowded for me. Our new location is not nearly as crowded and I have a favorite teller, “Pie,” who I always greet with “I like Pie!” I also tease the poor girl about her boyfriend of three years and why he hasn’t proposed to her yet. “We’re waiting till we have the money, sir,” is her standard reply.

  4. Three items:

    1. Thumbs up on Singapore banks.

    2. US military officers likely bank with USAA. USAA has all the cash moving issues well defined. If you’re USAA, ask ’em.

    3. Cyprus and bank branches. When controls were imposed on Cyprus bank accounts, forbidding withdrawals greater than $200 per day, some clever folks went to Cyprus bank branches in London and got all their money out. The Cyprus government law had no jurisdiction in the UK. This is worth thinking about when choosing a bank.

    1. Here’s a story that Channel News Asia reported on last month, Owen, in regards to Singapore banks:
      “Singaporean banks are not at risk, the city-state’s central bank stated after credit rating agency Moody’s downgraded its outlook on local lenders to “negative”.

      The three home-grown banks have the highest average credit ratings among banking systems worldwide and hold adequate capital to weather financial stresses, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said.

      It was reacting to an announcement by Moody’s that lowered its outlook for Singapore’s three main banks to “negative” from “stable”.

      Moody’s cited mounting domestic household debt and rising property prices in Singapore and in countries where the three banks are active.

      It said these “have increased the probability of deterioration in the banks’ credit profiles under potential adverse conditions in the future”.

      MAS said that while some borrowers are at risk, especially when interest rates rise as a result of a tightening of US monetary policy, “the local banks are not at risk”.

      “They undertake regular stress tests on their own as well as coordinated by the MAS, and have adequate buffers in place to cope with the inevitable upturn in the interest rate cycle,” it added.

      “The local banks continue to have strong financial positions by any serious assessment. As Moody’s itself concluded, the local banks have enough capital to withstand even the severe stress test scenarios that it considered,” Singapore’s central bank said.

      The three local banks — DBS, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp and United Overseas Bank — maintain capital levels well above the threshold required under new global banking rules known as Basel III, MAS said.

      Moody’s pointed to a tightening of US monetary policy as a “potential trigger” for Singapore and neighbouring countries also to raise interest rates, which would affect borrowers’ ability to repay their loans.”

  5. Bill S.,
    There are no Bank of America Branches in the Philippines. There one non-banking subsidiary of BOA in Manila. BOA charges $2.34 for using ATM here on top of a local charge of $5.00 for using the ATM. Citibank/HSBC are 2 international banks here. Also Australian Banks are pretty safe banks.

    1. Those fees are close to what we were charged when we used a debit card from our bank in the States, PapaDuck. The card expired last year and my bank in the States would not mail a new one. Xoom is a good alternative. Thanks for the info and have a safe trip to Iloilo next week.

  6. Thanks for the info on the deposit insurance law, Gary. I did not know it applied to the PERSON. I was going to spread my money among several banks to protect my deposits, but I now see it won’t do any good.

    To have your SS check deposited into a Phil. bank, did you guys have to first deal with the U.S. embassy there?

    If inflation kills the U.S. dollar in the near future, the Singapore dollar might be the best bet.

    1. Ice Man, the U.S. Social Security office in the Philippines is located at the U.S. Embassy in Manila. Rease, one of my faithful readers here in Iloilo, knows of expats that have had agents from the Social Security office come to them. I was told several months ago by the Social Security office at the embassy that I would need to set up an appointment three months before my birthday to initiate the start of my SS pension. I am going to email the embassy again next month and see if a personal visit to Iloilo could be arranged.

  7. When I gave my then Fiancee an engagement ring I also gave her a debit card for a new checking account I had opened. I advised the bank that I travel to the Philippines all of the time. While we were waiting for the K-1 visa, rather than send Christmas gifts, birthday etc. I would just have her go to an ATM and withdraw cash. The ATM fee and exchange fee was about $6 USD making it much better than Western Union. When she moved to the US she gave the card to her brother and that is how she sends money home. My brother in law recently lost the card, so before sending another I have been looking for a better way. Someone told me that Wells Fargo could wire transfer money to a BDO account for a very small fee as there was a Wells Fargo BDO connection, however I spoke with a girl at a local branch and it was like talking to a fence post, she was clueless. Is there a cheaper way to send money to the Philippines than $6 bucks?

    1. Lee, while I do like dealing with BDO in the Philippines, I’ve discovered that not all their employees have the same knowledge and skill level. Look at that graphic in my article regarding companies and banks that BDO works with regarding remittances. That graphic came straight from the BDO website. Wells Fargo Express Send is one of the outfits BDO directly deals with.

      Less than $6? XOOM charges $4.99 BUT, like Western Union, they give you about a peso or so less than the going rate in order to make up for the initial cheaper fee.

    1. Hi, Ice Man. Nope, I saw the headline about the Iloilo softball team but didn’t follow it on any of the sports channels available here. I’m just amazed that a baseball team was so successful. Basketball is the king of sports in the Philippines. Baseball teams are much more expensive due to equipment and uniform costs.

  8. Thanks Gary and PapaDuck for the info, always glad to find out more about how things are there.

    Lee, I use Xoom to transfer money to there. I have them transfer it from a bank account here in the states and deposit it into an account my fiancée has in the Philippines, and the deposit has never taken more than an hour to complete. It can be picked up in cash from the bank of your choice I believe, but we just to transfers from bank accounts only, so not positive about how cash works, but know they offer it, but you can check about it on there website, you can also pay by paypal I think. They just have a flat fee of $4.99 to transfer up to $2,999.00, you can transfer larger amounts also but it costs more, then I just transfer it through my bank to her bank for a fee of $6.00. I have never had any problems with Xoom at all, but would advise you to use a strong password to access your account.

    1. XOOM is a good choice, Bill S. I’ve heard good reports from them from other expats and haven’t heard anyone having any problems with them. They do charge the flat fee of $4.99 as you mentioned, but will also give you a lower exchange rate in order to make up for the cheaper charge.

  9. Lee, should have looked before I posted earlier. They do not accept paypal, have to pay with your bank account, which is what I do, or they will also take credit and debit cards but charge $6.99 for using them.

    1. Thanks for the info, Murray. Hope your family and you were spared from the recent 6.5 earthquake near Wellington, New Zealand. Have a safe trip back to the Philippines and keep safe.

  10. Yeah, that is good data on Singapore and let it be a lesson to all. Nowhere is 100% safe.

    Returning to Cyprus and FDIC a moment — folks, heads up. Most people say, well I don’t have $250K laying around so I am under the limit and fully insured.

    Cyprus had the EU’s version of FDIC, and they still found a way to bail-in. Small businesses who had the week’s payroll of 500K sitting Friday for paying employees … They lost all above 250K, and the remainder was limited to $200/day. (Cyprus’ 1500 year old Orthodox Church had $80 million on deposit. They lost $79.75 million — all so that the depositors would bail-in the bank and essentially protect the shareholders)

    Oh, and what about IRA’s and 401Ks? See? One does not think one has accounts beyond the number, until you REALLY think about it.

    1. You’re exactly right, Owen. I have an upcoming article coming up on banking in the Philippines…again. Let me post some info that I’ll have in the next post. It’s directly from the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation, the official arm of the Philippine government:

      “Effective June 1, 2009, the maximum deposit insurance coverage is P500,000 per depositor. All deposit accounts by a depositor in a closed bank maintained in the same right and capacity shall be added together.”

      “Under R.A. (Republic Act) No. 9576, the PDIC may propose to adjust the MDIC, subject to the approval of the President of the Philippines , in case of a situation that threatens the monetary and financial stability of the banking system that may have systematic consequences.”

  11. Hi Dave: You caould call the SSA in the States using your MagicJack phone for free. If you have a US address use that. That way you will not get the Drop Dead report each year. I have talked to the folks in Manila and they are very nice. And your records are on their computers just like in the States. Good luck!

    1. Thanks for that info, Gary, it’s much appreciated. I did email the Manila Social Security Office late last year and got a very quick, polite response from them the very next day. Seem to be some nice folks there, as you mentioned.

  12. Okay, I’m still not clear on this. While it says: “All deposit accounts by a depositor in a closed bank” are insured up to the cap, if I’ve spread my money among, say, 3 banks, is each one insured separately? Of course, I will ask at my bank when I get there, but thought one of you might already know the answer.

    1. Good question, Ice Man. I will leave it to others that hopefully will know the answer. My first inclination would be to think that if you have accounts in three separate banks, each account in each separate account would be covered to the maximum. But I certainly do not want to assume that because sometimes in the Philippines one is best to throw logic out the window. It’s the same logic that applies to understanding my asawa. 🙂

  13. It is one person only here in the Philippines. You can have ten accounts in ten banks and all you get is the 500,000 pesos. Don’t forget… You and your wife are ONE person by law here in the Philippines.

    Now then, Pray that all ten banks don’t fail at the same time. 😛

  14. Getting your Social Security check deposited here in the Philippines is easy. Just go to your bank and they will have the form to fill out. BPI uses a bank in New York City and they send it to BPI, that is the reason for the $6.00 fee.

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